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Why have increases in life expectancy slowed down in England?

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Until recently the trend in mortality over the last 100 years in England had been relatively clear: since World War 1 every decade has seen people living longer than before. But since 2011 improvement in mortality rates and life expectancy in England has slowed down considerably for both men and women. For some age groups, and for some parts of England, improvement has stopped altogether.

There has also been an increase in the number of deaths in some recent winters. Excess winter deaths in 2017 to 18 were the highest in over 40 years.

To understand what is happening, PHE were commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to undertake a review of trends in life expectancy and mortality in England, with a particular focus on the number of deaths in some recent winters and the slowdown in mortality improvement. This review has now been released.

Reductions in mortality from heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death, have historically driven improvements in life expectancy. Since 2011, there has been a slowdown in improvement in mortality rates for these causes which has therefore had a large impact on the trend in life expectancy. This slowdown has also been seen across many other countries.

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