EAST Lancashire is falling behind on reducing deaths from heart disease.

A new study by Imperial College London has revealed that nationally, deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) have more than halved since the 1980s, but East Lancashire has not shown the same progress.

In some local towns, death rates have fallen by as little as 10 per cent, and in some electoral wards, not at all.

Ward-by-ward analysis by experts showed the gap between the richest and poorest areas widening, with the North West highlighted as a hotspot for CVD mortality.

Nick Hartshorne-Evans, of Hapton-based heart failure charity Pumping Marvellous, said: “In East Lancashire there is still a significant cardiovascular disease problem, and it’s linked to deprived areas.

“People are getting the right education in this area, but they might think they can’t afford to act on it.

“There is a perception that eating healthily is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be, and we need to get that message across.

“Exercise is even more important, and we need more people in this area to take up the help being offered by Healthy Community Partnerships.”

Researchers looked at CVD mortality rates for men and women aged 30-64 and over-65s.

The best performing boroughs in East Lancashire for men over 65 were Ribble Valley and Pendle with a 32 per cent reduction, and for women over 65, Ribble Valley was best with a 34 per cent reduction.

Ribble Valley also showed the biggest reduction for both men and women aged 30-64, with reductions of 44 and 58 per cent respectively.

Burnley was the worst-performing town overall, scoring the lowest reductions in three out of four categories.

The worst-performing wards in East Lancashire were, in Blackburn with Darwen: Shearbrow and Audley; Hyndburn: Springhill, Central and Immanuel; Ribble Valley: Clayton-le-Dale and Ramsgreave; Rossendale: Whitwell and Healey in Whitworth; Burnley: Bank Hall and Daneshouse and Stoneyholme; and Pendle: Waterside.

Co-author Professor Majid Ezzati said: “We have to reduce major risk factors like smoking, and provide good health services that help both with prevention through high-quality GP services and with treatment. We need to focus on putting these into practice in places that are behind.”