Health Secretary calls for action on 5 top causes of early death Go compare with our comparison table

Health Secretary calls for action on 5 top causes of early death

11 March 2013 / by Isabel Buxton

The health secretary has announced plans to fight the top five causes of death in the wake of a major Lancet report on public health in the UK, which suggested that we’re currently falling behind our global peers when it comes to preventing early deaths. While many of us are living longer than ever before, sometimes our health can become an issue at a much earlier age. While it’s not something many of us want to dwell on, it’s important, especially if you’re a parent, to make financial provision for your family in the event of your death.

Big Five conditions kill 150,000 under-75s a year

The announcement comes as the Lancet publishes a major report into the UK's health performance, which shows that the UK is behind global counterparts. The report observed that, while life expectancy in the UK has risen by over four years since 1990, the nation’s position relative to several of its neighbours was significantly worse by 2010.* The ‘Big Five’ conditions – cancer, heart disease, stroke, respiratory conditions and liver disease - currently kill more than 150,000 under-75s each year, with cardiovascular disease representing about 30% of all deaths in 2011. While we can all play our part in preventing these diseases by endeavouring to live a healthy lifestyle, the many and varied causes of illness range from genetic factors to sheer bad luck. This means that it’s always sensible to have adequate protection in place for dependents in the event of becoming unwell.

Turning the tide

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has responded to the report with plans to tackle cardiovascular diseases, potentially saving 30,000 lives by 2020. He argues that all middle-aged people should be offered regular health checks to spot emerging problems before they become too serious to treat successfully. While this plan would hopefully reduce the number of preventable deaths, we all know that there are many factors, some unavoidable, which play a role when it comes to living a (hopefully) long and healthy life.

Planning for the future

We can’t predict what the future holds, but we can plan ahead, just in case. Life insurance provides you with financial protection against the risk of death and the consequences to those left behind – something which is particularly important if you have children or other dependent relatives to support. Many life insurance providers also offer schemes such as critical illness cover, which provides financial peace of mind if you are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with certain acute health conditions.


*Source: The Lancet report was based on data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which assessed health figures for the UK and 18 other countries.

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