Media Release: Life expectantly in Lothian increases

PEOPLE are living longer in Lothian, according to the latest statistics.

Begins a spokesperson: “Mortality figures for 2005-2009 issued by the General Registrar for Scotland reveal that death rates in the region have been decreasing despite population growth.

“Over the past five years there has been an overall improvement in life expectancy in Lothian.

“And of all the Scottish Health Board areas, this has increased most in NHS Lothian’s catchment area, rising by 2.9 years.

“Men in Lothian can now expect to live to 76.7 years and women to 81.1 years. This is higher than the Scottish average life expectancy of 75.4 for males and 80.1 for females.

“Death rates in all age groups have decreased over the past five years, with marked reductions in deaths at the earliest stage of life (stillbirths and deaths of newborns and very young babies) and in the five to 15 years age group.

“The statistics highlight key mortality indicators, pointing out the specific causes of death, including common killers such as coronary heart disease (CHD), cancer and respiratory disease and the areas where they are most and least prevalent.

“Deaths in Lothian due to heart disease have fallen from 1,611 in 2005 to 1,327 in 2009, with the decrease particularly evident in Edinburgh and West Lothian.

“There was also a significant reduction in CHD deaths from heart attack, with these accounting for a smaller proportion than ever before.

“A similar downward trend has been seen in deaths from respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD – an umbrella term for people with chronic bronchitis, emphysema or both), with the most marked decrease taking place in Midlothian.

“Cancer figures too show improvement.  Standardised to the European population, cancer mortality has decreased in Lothian, although the increase in our population means that the observed number of deaths has remained more or less constant (for under-75s, it was 1,078 in 2004 and 1,040 in 2008).

“Lung cancer accounts for over half of all cancer deaths and colorectal cancer for a further 20 per cent.

“Drug and alcohol-related deaths are noted in the statistics, however due to the small numbers of both, clear trends are not as defined.  In the past five years, the highest number of drug-related deaths – 118 – was in 2008 and overall, it appears that drugs deaths are increasing, although they are occurring later in life than in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“Alcohol-related deaths are decreasing (from 26.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2005 to 16.1 per 100,000 in 2009).

“Deaths associated with Healthcare Associated Infection have also shown a clear reduction in number over the past five years, and a decrease in deaths from both Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile Infection (CDI).”

Commenting on the statistics and the improving life expectancy in Lothian, Dr Alison McCallum, NHS Lothian director of Public Health, said:

“It is very satisfying to have confirmation from these latest figures that people are living longer in Lothian and that premature deaths, particularly those amenable to healthcare intervention, have fallen across all socio-economic groups.

“The increased life expectancy is due to a complex range of factors. Generally speaking, the positive trend is due to people benefitting from better living and working conditions.

“Better healthcare – implementing the evidence about how to make services more accessible, tackling risks to health and wellbeing systematically, improving the quality of relationships with patients, high quality diagnosis, treatment and follow-up – all contribute.

“And our commitment to evidence based treatment, such as smoking cessation and alcohol brief interventions- two of our most important life saving treatments – are another important reason for the decrease in death rates.

“As ever, however, there are major issues contributing to the socio-economic gap in life expectancy where improvement is vital. In addition to action to reduce alcohol consumption, we need to make it easier to be active and eat a healthy diet.

“As in many countries, there are specific areas of Edinburgh and the Lothians where deprivation and ill health are more concentrated. We know that the area in which you live appears to have an additional impact.

“We need to ensure that people who are most likely to have poor health have the best possible access to advice and support and that our full range of services enables everyone, no matter how vulnerable, to help us design and deliver effective services.”

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Contact: Aileen MacArthur
Phone: 0131 465 5646