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Thousands of deaths in Wales every year could be prevented according to BHF Cymru

BRITISH Heart Foundation Cymru is calling for more action on smoking, alcohol and obesity to address the societal factors that are affecting the health of people across Wales.

Heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lung disease and complications as a result of diabetes cause well over half of all deaths in Wales every year. That’s at least 20,000 people a year. Many of these deaths could be prevented if more was done to reduce the numbers of people who are overweight or have obesity, those who smoke, and who drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol.

Known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), many of the deaths and the lost healthy years of life caused by these conditions could be avoided by addressing some of the key risk factors.

BHF Cymru is one of a number of leading health charities in Wales coming together to call for political parties to take action and commit to measures that could help save lives across the country.

Head of BHF Cymru Adam Fletcher said: “Wales needs to commit to empowering people to make healthier choices through interventions to reduce smoking rates; levels of overweight and obesity; and alcohol consumption, all of which we know impact worse on the poorest in our society.

“The coronavirus pandemic has also provided a wake-up call on these issues. We are becoming aware of how underlying heart conditions and risk factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake and obesity can affect the severity of Covid-19 infections, highlighting the need to act now, more than ever.”

BHF Cymru in collaboration with, ASH Wales, British Lung Foundation Wales- Asthma UK, Stroke Association Wales, Diabetes Cymru, Cancer Research UK and the British Liver Trust has set out a series of priorities to tackle three of the biggest risk factors to improve the health of everyone in Wales: tobacco use, alcohol consumption and unhealthy diets.

Health problems caused by alcohol misuse, tobacco use and obesity have been estimated to cost the NHS in Wales millions. Tobacco alone costs the Welsh NHS £386 million per year. Illnesses associated with obesity are projected to cost the Welsh NHS more than £465 million per year by 2050.

People living with NCDs often find that their quality of life has declined. Heart and circulatory diseases, respiratory disease and cancer are the main contributors to the overall burden of disease, and years of life lost in Wales. Wales’s healthy life expectancy is only 61.7 years, the lowest and is just 50.7 years in the most deprived communities.

Adam Fletcher continued: “Urgent action is needed to address the societal factors that are affecting the health of people across Wales. The next Welsh Government has the opportunity to support people to make positive health choices and reduce their risk of preventable illness. Ahead of the Senedd elections, all political parties must commit to taking action against preventable death and disease”

Full details of the report and its recommendations can be found here: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/in-your-area/wales/ncd-prevention-report

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