The number of people dying from heart and circulatory diseases before they reach their 75th birthday is on the rise for the first time in 50 years, according to a British Heart Foundation analysis of the latest national health statistics.

The figures show an upward trend in deaths since 2014, with 42,384 people dying from conditions including heart attack and stroke in the UK before the age of 75 in 2017, compared to 41,042 three years earlier, marking the first upward trend in 50 years.

The worrying rise bucks decades of progress that has seen annual deaths from heart and circulatory disease half since the 1960s, partly thanks to improvements in treatments and changing lifestyles including declining smoking rates.

The change likely comes as a result of increasing figures for conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, smoking and family history.

Over the last five years the UK has seen an 18% increase in people diagnosed with diabetes, adding to circulatory disease issues including stroke and diseases of the arteries.

The charity claims that the ‘significant slowdown’ is also partly down to “the rate of improvement in death rates per 100,000 people combined with a growing population”

In the UK there has already been “phenomenal progress in reducing the number of people who die of a heart attack or stroke. But we’re seeing more people die each year from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK before they reach their 75th, or even 65th, birthday. We are deeply concerned by this reversal”, commented Simon Gillespie, British Heart Foundation chief executive.

“Only through the continued commitment of our researchers, the public’s generous support, and determination from governments can we 'shift the dial' and imagine a 2030 where fewer people live with the fear of heart and circulatory disease."