Life expectancy in England has reached 79.6 years for men and 83.2 years for women, and people are healthier at all ages than ever before, according to the latest Health Profile for England published by Public Health England (PHE).
However, the report also shows that inequalities persist, with people in the least deprived areas living 19 years longer than those in the most deprived areas.
According to the statistics, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease could overtake heart disease as the most common cause of death in men as early as 2020. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are already the leading cause of death in women. The figures are significant given that the number of people aged 85 years has more than tripled since the 1970s and will rise to more than 2 million by 2031.
In addition, the number of people with diabetes is expected to increase by a million from just under 4 million people in 2017 to almost 5 million in 2035.
On a positive note, smoking rates in England have dropped by a quarter in the last 7 years. Smoking prevalence now stands at 15% and is expected to be as low as 10% by 2023.
Commenting on the figures, Professor John Newton, PHE director of health improvement said: “The challenge now is for the NHS to respond to this changing landscape and to focus on preventing as well as treating the conditions which are causing the greatest disease burden across our nation.”