Main Factors Contributing to the Slowdown in Life Expectancy 148 in the United Kingdom
1. Inequalities in life expectancy
People living in more affluent areas live significantly longer than people living in deprived areas. In 2015–17. Much of this inequality is caused by higher mortality from heart and respiratory disease, and lung cancer, in more deprived areas. The gap in healthy life expectancy at birth is even greater – about 19 years for both males and females, and those living in the most deprived areas spend nearly a third of their lives in poor health, compared with only about a sixth for those in the least deprived areas. Socio-economic inequalities in life expectancy are also widening in both sexes as a result of greater gains in life expectancy in less deprived populations. Between 2012–14 and 2015–17, the difference in life expectancy between the most and least deprived widened by 0.3 years among males and 0.5 years among females. Among females living in the most deprived areas life expectancy fell by 100 days over this period, in contrast to the gain of 84 days among females living in the least deprived areas.
2. A slowdown in improvement in mortality rates for heart disease and stroke
Reductions in mortality from heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death, have historically driven improvements in life expectancy. Since 2011, there has been a slowdown in improvement in mortality rates for these causes which has therefore had a large impact on the trend in life expectancy. Up to 80% of these premature heart attacks and strokes are avoidable and this highlights the importance of focusing on preventative interventions such as stopping smoking, getting more physically active and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Stepping up efforts to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke will also mean addressing the underlying wider determinants of health.
3. No improvement in death rates in young adults
While flu, heart disease and stroke have partly determined the trend in mortality rates in older adults, other causes of death have influenced the trend in younger people. Mortality rates among younger adults made almost no positive contribution to trends in life expectancy between 2011 and 2016, despite making small positive contributions in earlier years. The cause of death that had the biggest negative impact was accidental poisoning, with 70% of these deaths due to drug misuse and 10% due to alcohol. In the age group 20 to 34 years the leading causes of death are suicide & injury or poisoning of undetermined intent, accidental poisoning, transport accidents.