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About the project


Welcome to Healthier Lives, a beta website from Public Health England developed from the original Longer Lives web tool. The site features information about diabetes, high blood pressure and the NHS Health Check. We welcome your feedback via the Connect page, Twitter, using #healthierlives, or you can email us on enquiries@phe.gov.uk.

For more information about Healthier Lives you can read a blog post written by Professor Kevin Fenton on the Public health matters blog.

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol and drug use are widespread throughout our society, and while the number of people with serious problems is relatively small, the impact on people’s lives, their families and communities is significant.

In England, an estimated 10.3 million people (22% of the population) drink at levels that increase the risk of harm to their health. Of these, an estimated 1.6 million adults show some signs of alcohol dependence.

About a third of adults have taken drugs at some point during their lifetime, with about 2.8 million (8.6%) of 16 to 59 year olds having taken an illicit drug in the last year. There are an estimated 300,000 heroin and/or crack users in England. Added to this, more people are reported to be having problems with other drugs, including new psychoactive substances (so-called ‘legal highs’) and image and performance-enhancing drugs. Misuse of and dependence on prescribed and over-the-counter medicines is another area of growing concern.

Dependence or uncontrolled use of alcohol or drugs can significantly impact the people around the user, including their families, friends, communities and society. It is estimated that at least 6 million people in England are affected by the alcohol or drug use of a family member – mostly in poorer communities.

People born in England today can expect to live longer than ever before. However, there are certain conditions that are having an increasing impact on people’s lives.

Both alcohol and drugs also take their toll on families and wider society. Alcohol plays a significant part in almost half of violent assaults, in more than half of domestic violence incidents, in marital/relationship breakdown, and in road traffic accidents (causing 13% of fatalities). Alcohol also features in around a quarter of serious case reviews of at risk children, while drugs are implicated in 29%. Drug harms also include the crime and community safety issues associated with the buying/selling and use of drugs.

Alcohol and drug misuse both carry the risk of dependence, which brings with it a whole range of health and social problems. However, even non-dependent alcohol and drug use can damage health. They can cause or contribute to cardiovascular disease, liver disease, harm to unborn children and trigger anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. Excessive alcohol use also carries the risk of reducing fertility and increasing the likelihood of developing various cancers, while drug use risks include overdose, mental health problems and physical health harms. There are also some specific risks associated with injecting such as poor vein health and the acquisition of blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV.

Alcohol misuse leads to many deaths: nearly 22,500 people died from alcohol-related causes in 2013, and deaths from liver disease have doubled since 1980. The annual death rate from drug misuse was the highest ever recorded in 2014 at 39.9 deaths per million population, while deaths involving new drugs and some prescription medicines, although relatively small, are also rising. The death rate among heroin users is estimated to be ten times higher than the general population.

Even in England in 2016 how healthy we are depends greatly on where we live and unfortunately we see variation in the prevalence, care and outcomes for people with alcohol and drug problems depending on where they live.

Healthier Lives – Alcohol & Drugs makes England’s data about many aspects of alcohol and drug use accessible to everyone. It sets out our best current prevalence estimates alongside the key performance measures for treatment services, including recovery outcomes.

Healthier Lives – Alcohol & Drugs follows on from a previous piece of work, Longer Lives, which described variations in early deaths across England. Other Healthier Lives projects are being planned and will focus on other major conditions which impact upon living healthily into older age. Expanding this work along with improvements made in response to your feedback will help the project become ever more useful to local decision-makers.

Diabetes

People born in England today can expect to live longer than ever before. However, long term conditions such as diabetes are having an increasing impact on people’s lives.

Diabetes affects 6% of adults in England and is increasing. In addition, some people with diabetes may not be aware of their condition. Diabetes can cause a range of complications affecting both the small and large blood vessels including heart attacks, strokes, kidney, foot and eye problems.

Importantly, Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, and the risk of those with diabetes developing complications can be reduced significantly with appropriate and personalised care. Even in England in 2014 how healthy we are depends greatly on where we live and unfortunately we see variation in the prevention, care and outcomes for people with diabetes depending on where they live.

Public Health England (PHE) is dedicated to improving the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reducing health inequalities across the country. 

When it comes to health, every community faces its own challenges. PHE has been created to help communities decide on steps they can take to improve their collective health. The Longer Lives Project gives them the tools to help do this.

PHE was created to help communities decide on steps they can take to improve their collective health. The Healthier Lives – Diabetes project provides a tool to help do this on many aspects of this long term condition. Communities can take action to encourage people to take control of their lives by stopping smoking, being a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet which can reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes, and in those who already have diabetes, reduce the likelihood of developing the complications.

Healthier Lives – Diabetes, makes England’s data about all aspects of diabetes accessible to everyone.

It quantifies several aspects of diabetes prevention and care, complications and outcomes and highlights inequalities across the country.

The result is a powerful enabler for change, helping communities work together to live longer, healthier lives.

Healthier Lives – Diabetes follows on from a previous piece of work, Longer Lives, which described variations in early deaths across England. Other Healthier Lives projects are being planned and will focus on other major conditions which impact upon living healthily into older age. Expanding this work along with improvements made in response to your feedback will help the project become ever more useful to local decision-makers.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a very common long-term condition, with almost 8 million patients diagnosed, and a further 5 million adults estimated to live with this who are undiagnosed. It is often preventable, and is worsened by poor lifestyle behaviours (such as poor diet and physical inactivity). Both lifestyle changes and drug therapy are effective in contributing towards lowering blood pressure. It is a risk factor for conditions including cardiovascular disease (including stroke and heart attack), cognitive decline (including dementia) and kidney disease.

Whilst there has been notable improvement in the prevention, detection and management of high blood pressure in the past decade there is still significant room for improvement – both to reduce variation within this country, and to achieve higher standards across the board which we know to be possible looking at international experience.

NHS Health Check

People born in England today can expect to live longer than ever before. Although this is good news it means that more people are now living with conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia. The leading causes of these diseases such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption vary across England and are higher in some areas than others.

Public Health England is dedicated to improving the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reducing health inequalities across the country.

This section of the healthier lives site is focussed on the NHS Health Check programme. The NHS Health Check offers people, aged 40 – 74, access to specialist advice and support to take early steps to improve their chances of living healthier, for longer.

More than 15 million people in England are eligible for an NHS Health Check

The NHS Health Check has the potential to prevent 1,600 heart attacks and strokes, 650 premature deaths, and over 4,000 new cases of diabetes. At least 20,000 cases of diabetes or kidney disease could be detected earlier; allowing people to improve their quality of life.

Healthier Lives makes NHS Health Check data accessible to everyone

The NHS Health Check site provides information on the number of people invited for a check and the number who have had one. It also provides supporting data on the levels of diseases the programme aims to prevent such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. The Healthier Lives series follows on from Longer Lives, which includes rates of early deaths across England. 

Premature Mortality

A child born in England today can expect to live a longer, healthier life than ever before, yet, they still have a one in three chance of dying before they reach 75. Of all the factors affecting their chances of premature mortality, location is one of the most important. Because, even in England in 2013, how long we live depends greatly on where we live.

Longer Lives makes England’s mortality data accessible to everyone.

It quantifies premature deaths from the four most common causes of mortality in England – heart disease and stroke, lung disease, liver disease, and cancer, highlights inequalities in premature mortality across the country and provides examples of effective local interventions.

The result is a powerful enabler for change, helping communities work together to live longer, healthier lives.

The project is currently in its early stages. However, new data sets will be introduced, including data for county districts. This development, along with improvements made in response to your feedback, will help the project become ever more useful to local decision-makers.