Thursday 22 March 2012

Liver deaths at all-time high


Liver disease is killing more people than ever before in England, especially in deprived areas, shows a report out today. Deaths from liver disease: implications for end of life care in England, the first national report into the problem, finds that between 2001 and 2009, deaths from liver disease rose by 25% – and that more than a third of these were from alcohol-related liver disease. In England in 2001, 9321 people died from liver disease, but by 2009 this had risen to 11,575; at the same time, deaths from other major causes fell. The report, from the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, also showed that liver disease was a disproportionate killer of younger people, accounting for one in ten of all deaths in people in their 40s. Death from liver disease, especially alcohol-related, was much more common in men than in women – 60% of all deaths from liver disease occurred in men. Alcohol-related liver disease was responsible for 41% of deaths from liver deaths in men, and 30% of liver disease deaths in women. The most economically deprived areas of England were the most likely to have high levels of death from alcohol-related liver disease, where it accounted for 44% of all liver disease deaths, compared with 28% in the least deprived areas. Mortality also varied between regions: it was highest in North West, North East and London, and lowest in East of England, South West and South East. Professor Martin Lombard, national clinical director for liver disease, said: “The key drivers for increasing numbers of deaths from liver disease are all preventable, such as alcohol, obesity, hepatitis C and hepatitis B. We must focus our efforts and tackle this problem sooner rather than later.” Professor Julia Verne, lead author of the report and clinical lead for the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, said: “It is crucial that commissioners and providers of health and social care services know the prevalence of liver disease in their local areas, so that more people can receive the care they need to allow them to die in the place of their choosing.”