22 Mar 2012

Liver disease deaths up by 25 per cent in England

Deaths from liver disease in England have jumped by a quarter with alcohol the major cause, men the biggest victims and fatalities more prevalent in the north, new statistics show.

New figures suggests deaths from liver diease are up by 25 per cent (Getty)

The first ever National End of Life Care Intelligence Network report said the vast majority of the fatalities were people under 70, with more victims now in their 40s.

But obesity, hepatitis C and hepatitis B have also helped lead to the increase in total liver disease deaths between 2001 and 2009.

The findings are in contrast to other major causes of death – such as heart disease – which have been declining in recent years. In 2001, 9,231 people died of the condition, but by 2009 it was 11,575 people, with 60 per cent being men and 40 per cent women.

Although numbers of deaths due to cancer, vascular or respiratory disease are still much greater, liver disease disproportionately kills people at a much younger age.

A striking 90 per cent of people who die from liver disease are under 70, the report revealed. More than one in 10 deaths of people in their 40s are from liver disease.

Alcohol-related deaths

When measured as “years of life lost”, liver disease is much more prominent, the report authors said. Most of these deaths were from alcohol-related liver disease, which accounted for well over a third (37 per cent) of all liver disease deaths.

But the prevalence of deaths from alcohol-related liver disease varied greatly between males (41 per cent of liver disease deaths) and females (30 per cent of liver disease deaths).

Alcohol-related liver disease was also more common in the most deprived areas (44 per cent of liver disease deaths) than the least deprived areas (28 per cent of liver disease deaths).

The complex needs of many patients mean that more than two-thirds died in hospital, compared with 55 per cent of all deaths in 2009 from any cause – so leading to a greater cost to the NHS when treating the condition.