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Alarming rise in alcohol-related liver deaths

There has been an alarming rise in the number of deaths due to liver disease, according to a new study.

A report by Public Health England (PHE) shows a 40% increase in liver deaths in England between 2001 and 2012, with men being twice as likely to be affected as women and the statistics show Bournemouth is worse than the national average in eight key categories.

These include the under 75 age mortality rate from liver disease, alcohol related hospital admissions and the under 75 age mortality rate for alcohol related liver disease.

In Poole, the figures for hospital admission rates due to liver disease and the admission rate for alcoholic liver disease are also above the national average.

The 40% national increase in liver deaths represents a rise from 7,841 deaths in England to 10,948.

Professor Julia Verne, Lead for Liver Disease at PHE, said: “Liver disease is a public health priority because young lives are being needlessly lost. “All the preventable causes are on the rise, but alcohol accounts for 37% of liver disease deaths.

“We must do more to raise awareness, nationally and locally, and this is why it is so important for the public and health professionals to understand their local picture.”

Going into more detail about liver disease, Professor Verne said: “Liver disease develops silently and obvious signs and symptoms may only appear when changes are irreversible.

Therefore the identification of people with risk factors for liver disease in primary care is a critical first step in the pathway.” Early symptoms of liver disease include abdominal pain, loss of appetite and fatigue.

Professor Verne added catching liver disease early is key. She said: “Most people who die of liver disease don’t realise they’ve got it until a very late stage. “While their life can be prolonged, they can’t be saved.”

Other categories studied in the PHE report show the statistics for Bournemouth and Poole are similar for the rest of the country.

But death rates from liver disease are increasing in England in contrast to most EU countries.

Most liver disease is preventable and over 90% is due to three main risk factors: alcohol, viral hepatitis and obesity

Liver disease is one of the leading causes of premature mortality in England. One in 10 people who die in their 40s die of liver disease.