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Heart death rate worry for women

Death rates from heart disease in young women could be on the rise due to increased cases of obesity and diabetes.

Researchers studying deaths in England and Wales between 1931 and 2005 say death rates among women under 50 could begin to increase after almost three decades of continuous falls.

Better treatments and a fall in the number of people smoking has seen heart disease death rates for all age groups fall since the 1970s.

But the rate at which heart disease in women under 50 is falling is slowing, compared with the speed with which it is decreasing among older people.

The findings were published in the journal BMC Public Health.

Report author Peter Scarborough said: "What we may be seeing with the figures for women is a plateauing and in the future it may even rise.

"It seems to me that the increased rates of obesity and diabetes are playing a role in this and if this pattern is emerging in women then it is quite likely we will see the same in men in the future."

The report pointed out that obesity and diabetes levels had been rising in younger age groups over the last 10 years, while physical activity levels have fallen.

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