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Why is heart disease 'more likely if poor'?

The British Heart Foundation says that people who live in Tameside in Greater Manchester are more likely to die from coronary heart disease than those from anywhere else in the UK.

The risk is more than three times higher than in wealthier parts of Britain.

While overall figures for heart disease have dropped significantly in the last 30 years, the gap has remained stubbornly constant.

Speaking to Today presenter John Humphrys, epidemiologist Professor Sir Michael Marmot explained that, while heart disease rates have come down, the gap between rich and poor "has not narrowed".

He said that it was important to look at the "causes of the causes".

He indicated smoking and unhealthy diets are know causes of heart disease and explained that the investigation needed to look into why people living in poorer areas are were more likely to live unhealthy lifestyles.

Anna Soubry, Minister for Public Health, said the government's efforts to devolve some health decisions to a local level is helping to tackle the problem and explained that it is "absolutely the right thing to do, because local authorities know what's best in their areas."

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme on Friday 19 April 2013.

  • 19 Apr 2013
  • From the section Health