Diabetes epidemic to cause huge rise in heart attacks and strokes

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The number of people suffering heart attacks and strokes will soar by almost 30 per cent by 2035 as a diabetes epidemic sweeps the country, research by a charity has found.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is calling for more action to curb the sugar and fat content of food to ease the multi-billion pound burden of diabetes on the NHS.

The charity said the food industry is not acting quickly enough to re-formulate its products despite mounting evidence of the impact on the nation’s health.

It is estimated that 39,000 people living with diabetes will suffer a heart attack in 2035, a rise of 9,000 compared with 2015.

More than 50,000 people will have a stroke, a rise of 11,000, and cases of angina and heart failure are also set to soar.

The BHF has called for more research to better understand the links between diabetes and heart problems. It also wants “bold action” to tackle rising levels of obesity and inactivity among the population. BHF chief executive Simon Gillespie said: “Thanks to research we’ve made excellent progress in improving survival rates for heart attacks and strokes.

“However, today’s figures point to an extremely worrying trend.

“People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases and the expected surge in type 2 diabetes cases by 2035 could put thousands more people at risk of a deadly heart attack or stroke.”

The BHF said that over the next two decades the number of people with diabetes in England is set to increase to five million.

People with type 2 diabetes are between two and four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, which means a rise in diabetes cases is expected to trigger a sharp increase in these potentially deadly heart and circulatory conditions.

Estimates suggest that the annual cost to the NHS of treating people with diabetes will be £16.9bn by 20354, up from £9.8bn in 2012.

Mr Gillespie said: “We can only reverse this trend by taking bold action to tackle obesity and inactivity, especially amongst young people.

“This must include consideration of further regulatory action to reduce sugar and fat content in food, and to curb junk food advertising directed at young children.

“The food industry is not acting quickly enough to re-formulate its products, despite mounting evidence of their impact on the nation’s health.

“We also need continued research that will enable us to better understand how diabetes leads to these deadly heart and circulatory conditions, and how we can stop it.”

The vast majority of people with diabetes have type 2, which is linked to unhealthy lifestyles. In the UK just ten per cent of diabetics have type 1.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We know the damage obesity causes and are determined to halve childhood obesity by 2030.

“Our new childhood obesity plan will get children exercising more in schools and reduce their exposure to sugary and fatty foods.

“This is in addition to the billions we have invested in public health services, and our reformulation efforts which have already removed the equivalent of 45m kilograms of sugar from soft drinks every year.”