Are we going through an inactivity epidemic? Recent NHS statistics shed light on the growing burden it’s facing.

The NHS and the monumental strain it’s put under is a well-covered conundrum, and one which is a hot topic in public health. In light of figures published by the NHS, there have been some alarming statistics which have recently surfaced.

Hospital admissions for heart failure have risen to record levels, as numbers show that more than 86,0001 patients suffered from the condition last year – this is a 33% increase on the 2013/2014 figures. When admitted, patients with heart failure stay in hospital for an average of 10 days, which is double the expected stay for all other diagnoses. This results in not only a huge financial strain, but also adds to the burden on already overloaded health services. The survival rate for the condition is extremely low and actually worse than many cancers, with a third of patients dying within a year of developing the condition.

The condition is often caused by a heart attack and the risk factors are ultimately influenced by lifestyle factors such as diet and activity levels, which are both aspects we can control in our everyday lives. In total, this condition affects approximately 920,0001 people in the UK and due to the constant care required and time spent in hospital, it has become one of the biggest drains on NHS funding.

In addition to this, recent diabetes statistics compound the growing strain on health services. Last year, the NHS reported that there were 1.7 million2 admissions of patients with type 2 diabetes. This equates to approximately 5000 daily appointments, costing a staggering £22 million2 each day. Upon being broken down further, the future isn’t appearing to be very promising either. There were almost 1000 admissions for children/teenagers aged 19 and under, indicating that this problem which used to be seen predominantly in middle aged adults, is now beginning to affect the younger generation.

Due to the constant monitoring of blood sugar levels for those diagnosed with diabetes, regular check-ups are often necessary, with at least 8 appointments each year becoming the norm (providing everything goes to plan). Many people often have far more than this depending on the level of their diabetes control. It has been reported that some patients who had poor blood sugar control were requiring over 200 appointments each year, with some also needing a nurse to be called out to their home daily. In total, it is estimated that there are over 4.72 million adults and children in the UK who are living with diabetes.

These mammoth figures for both of the conditions truly highlight the extent of the growing problems which we are facing and show the need for immediate action.

 

So, what can I do to reduce my risk of these conditions?

 

Despite the fact that lifestyle choices can play a huge role in managing these conditions, evidence would suggest that we are actually going through an inactive lifestyle epidemic.

Miracle cures don’t come around very often, so when a treatment is deemed to be almost 100% safe and effective, it is unsurprising that it is viewed with intense scepticism and often raises many eyebrows. What if we were to add to this by telling you that this treatment is also readily available to everyone and comes with no financial cost?  Well, you’d probably laugh…

This treatment comes in the simple form of physical activity. Physical activity has recently been described as a ‘miracle cure’ by the highly regarded Academy of Medical Sciences. The BMJ recently published a review showing a clear dose-response relationship between physical activity and mortality. This basically means that the more active we are, the likelier we are to live a longer and healthier life. It also provides evidence showing that any level of activity is better than none, and the more activity the better!

As outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan for Diabetes, encouraging individuals to better manage their activity is a vital component which will be put under the spotlight to ensure progress is made in helping the nation better manage this condition.

Physical activity is safe, and beneficial for nearly everyone with few if any side effects, unlike those experienced with prescription drugs. The power of physical activity is there for everyone to see, and through our years of R&D we’ve developed a programme which can be prescribed just like a drug to prevent and treat a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart failure. The KiActiv® programmes combine the latest technologies with a multidimensional understanding of physical activity to empower self-management and support self-endorsed lifestyle change. Through encouraging people to take responsibility for their own health and lowering the burden on GPs and hospitals, we can also see a huge impact in cost reduction and in improvement in people’s quality of life.