Where you live should not determine how long you live. To put an end to the postcode health lottery, regular testing is necessary, says a leading expert.
Amazing new official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show a difference of 12.9 years in the life expectancy of a woman in Kensington & Chelsea compared to a man in Blackpool.
New life expectancy figures for local areas in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales show that male life expectancy at birth in Hart (the area around Fleet in Hampshire) is the highest at 83.7 years, and the lowest in Blackpool at 73.4 years. This is a gap of over a decade. Female life expectancy is highest in the London borough of Kensington & Chelsea at 86.3 years and lowest in Blaenau Gwent in Wales at 78.9 years, resulting in a difference of over seven years.
This postcode health lottery must not continue, says a leading health expert.
Where in Great Britain we are born should not condemn us to a shorter life than other Britons. The difference between the life expectancy figures of a Chelsea girl and a Blackpool boy is unacceptable. Regular health tests and screenings would be effective tools to ensure that women born in Blaenau Gwent and men born in Hart lead an equally long and healthy life.
Dr. Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), Clinical Director, London Medical Laboratory (LML)
„The more we examine these figures, the more worrying they become.“ In England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, life expectancy at birth in the period 2020–22 was actually lower for both men and women than in the period 2017–19. And the health gap between the north and south is significant. Of the ten local areas with the highest male life expectancy, nine were in the south of England. For women, all ten areas with the highest life expectancy were in the south.
„The north-south health gap is a national problem that urgently needs to be addressed.“ The English regions with the highest and lowest male life expectancy were the southeast (80.1 years) and the northeast (77.2 years), a difference of three years. The English regions with the highest and lowest female life expectancy were the southwest (83.9 years) and the northeast (81.2 years), a difference of almost three years.
„It is important to note that the ONS acknowledges that a decline in life expectancy does not mean that a baby born in the years 2020–22 will inevitably lead a shorter life than a baby born in the years 2017–19. Their average life expectancy will be determined by changes in mortality rates throughout their lives, and if these rates improve, life expectancy will rise again. Regular health tests could be crucial for improving underlying health factors and outcomes.“
„Before people even show symptoms, many potentially fatal diseases can be identified and treated through regular blood tests.“ The most recent monthly mortality statistics (for July 2023) show that the most common cause of death in both England and Wales was „ischemic“ heart diseases (9.9% of deaths in England and 9.6% of deaths in Wales). Ischemic heart diseases result from blockages in the heart’s coronary arteries, leading to inadequate blood flow to the heart. This condition is strongly associated with several broader health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes.
„There is no reason why the heart of a man born in Hart should be healthier than anywhere else.“ The latest blood tests for heart health precisely identify the main causes of heart complications. Regardless of where we live in Great Britain, these tests are easily available and can be used as the basis for treatment plans that could help overcome the north-south health gap.
„The London Medical Laboratory’s Heart Health Profile Test is already widely used to identify many diseases.“ The simple fingerprint blood test indicates risks for heart health and includes a complete cholesterol profile as well as tests for inflammation. It also tests for diabetes and shows how well the body controls blood sugar levels.
„The Heart Health Profile Test can be done at home by post or at one of the many drop-in clinics offering these tests throughout London and at over 120 selected pharmacies and health stores nationwide.“
London Medical Laboratory