Startling health divide between Westminster's rich and poor

Women aged 65 who live in Little Venice can expect to live until they're nearly 96, according to a report released by Westminster Primary Care Trust (PCT).  In contrast, older women who live just a stone's throw away in Westminster's Church Street ward can only expect to live on average until they're 79.   Further towards the Thames, in Churchill ward, women aged 65 can only expect to live until they're 77 - 14 years less than their Little Venice counterparts.  Similar differences in further life expectancy are also seen for men.

The information is contained in Westminster PCT's Public Health Annual Report 2005/06, which focuses on the health and wellbeing of older people in Westminster.

The report's author, Dr Margaret Guy, Director of Public Health for Westminster PCT, said:

"One of the most striking findings is the extent to which the health of older people varies across Westminster.  Along with the wide variations in life expectancy, there is also a significant difference across Westminster in mortality rates for people aged 65 to 74.  These variations mirror the pattern of deprivation across the borough - only three per cent of older people living in Knightsbridge and Belgravia are defined as income-deprived, compared to 77 per cent of those living in parts of Church Street."

Dr Guy says the most effective way to reduce these health inequalities in the short term is to improve the management of cardiovascular disease and its main risk factors - especially high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, smoking and diabetes.

"GPs have a pivotal role to play in identifying people at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.   Once identified, they need to focus on reducing this risk - for example, by treating and controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels; helping those with diabetes to improve the management of their condition; and supporting people to adopt a healthier lifestyle through the provision of stop smoking services, healthy weight management support and preventative alcohol services."

For media queries or to arrange an interview with Dr Guy, please contact Westminster Primary Care Trust's Communications Department 020 7150 8243 or 07798 840 029

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