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Heart disease remains leading cause of excess deaths in private homes

Heart disease, cancer and other causes are continuing to drive the large number of extra deaths in homes since the Covid-19 pandemic began, rather than coronavirus itself, new analysis shows.

Private homes are the only setting where deaths in England and Wales have been consistently above the pre-pandemic average every month from January 2020 to June 2021.

But the main cause of these extra deaths – known as “excess deaths” – has not been Covid-19.

Instead there have been “substantial increases” in people dying from other causes, such as heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s, and various cancers, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Coronavirus graphic
(PA Graphics)

Ischaemic heart disease was the main leading cause of death in private homes in England and Wales between January 2020 and June 2021, with 27,048 male deaths registered – 18% above the pre-pandemic average – along with 12,183 female deaths, 10% above average.

Deaths where dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was the leading cause during this period were 72% above average for males and 62% above average for females – the largest percentage increase among causes.

Deaths where lung cancer was the leading cause of death were also above average, by 21% for males and 35% for females.Sarah Caul, ONS head of mortality analysis, said the figures show the pandemic “appears to have had an indirect effect” on private-home deaths. 

“This could be because of a combination of factors which may include health service disruption, people choosing to stay away from healthcare settings or terminally ill people staying at home rather than being admitted to other settings for end-of-life care,” she added.

“More investigation is needed to understand this.”

A total of 62,792 excess deaths were registered in private homes in England and Wales from January 2020 to June 2021.

But separate ONS figures published on Tuesday show that even in recent months, when almost all lockdown restrictions have been eased across the country, there are still many more people dying at home than usual.

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