Heart disease is the leading cause of ‘excess deaths’

Last year was the most deadly non-pandemic year for excess deaths since 1945.

Research published today by scientists at Oxford University shows that while cancer and dementia fatalities have fallen, deaths from heart and circulatory problems are spiralling.

On Tuesday, there will be a debate in Parliament, with MPs calling for the Government to investigate the problem.

The study shows there were 595,789 deaths last year, of which 53,000 were considered “excess” or “extra”.

This is based on a five-year average of deaths before Covid.

By comparison, there were 82,000 and 60,000 extra deaths during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 respectively.

This equates to 1,000 additional deaths each week during 2023, surpassing the total of 50,200 excess deaths in 2022.

Last year there were 100,000 more deaths than there were in 2011, the report shows.

Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: “These are not just numbers and statistics but real people, loved ones, often from younger age groups, who are dying before their time.”

The largest rise was heart failure which saw a 16 per cent jump, almost 10,000 extra deaths. There was also an 8.5 per cent increase in deaths due to narrowed heart arteries and a 14 per cent rise in deaths from liver diseases.

Prof Carl Heneghan, who co-authored the study, said: “These deaths cannot be explained by Covid, population growth nor an ageing population. The Govern-ment has failed to investigate this problem. It is unacceptable.”

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a leading cardiologist, said 80 per cent of excess heart deaths were “linked to lifestyle and environmental factors, such as worsening diet, sedentary lifestyles and stress which happened in lockdowns”.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “There are a wide variety of factors contributing to excess deaths, including high flu prevalence, the ongoing challenges of Covid, and health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, which did not get picked up during the pandemic.”

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