It’s been a while since I posted on Talk Health and morbidly, for reasons I will not bore you with I have been thinking about the grim reaper.

The top five causes of death in the UK (according to the Department of Health quoted in a BBC article in March of this year – are as follows :

Heart Disease, Stroke, Cancer, Lung and Liver disease – between them they cause more than 150,000 deaths per annum in the under 75’s and around 30,000 of these are apparently (according to Jeremy Hunt) preventable.

Coronary disease, the biggest killer, takes over 200 people each day and sadly smoking, obesity and having high blood pressure are all massive risk factors – 1 in 3 people in England and Scotland have high blood pressure but only half of them are receiving treatment.

Cancer is now so common that around one in thirty people have cancer or are in remission although survival rates are improving it is estimated that by 2030 over three million people will have cancer.

Particularly scary for those of us who enjoy a tipple is liver disease – the only major cause of death that is on the increase in the United Kingdom. Death from chronic lever disease and cirrhosis in the under 65’s has increased by 20% in the UK whilst falling in the rest of Europe. Consider this, over a third of men and quarter of women drink more than the recommended daily units of alcohol – so we really only have ourselves to blame.

In hospitals the Centres of Disease Control in the USA estimates that there are 1.7 million hospital acquired infections in America (causing or contributing to around 99,000 deaths per annum) . According to Wikipedia, in the UK hospital infection rates run at around 10% compared to 8.2% in 2006 – that’s probably more scary than drinking too much red wine.

Lastly I wanted to finish on a bizarre but slightly more upbeat/funny note. According to the Guardian from a graph and set of data printed in 2011 :

132 were killed by inanimate objects (not cars) in 2010

23 by animate objects (animals presumably)

7 died following being bitten or struck (?) by mammals (but not rats or dogs)

Bath tubs took 29 Britons

5 people succumbed (somehow) to accidental suffocation in bed

Nobody died from a lightning strike in 2010 but one person did the previous year

Nobody dies from rat bites anymore – at least in 2008 through 2010.

On balance it seems that rats are safer than red wine, lightning or taking a bath.















Phil Knight started work in the National Health Service in Leeds in 1989 before going to Hull University to read American Studies and then moved into private medical sales and marketing in 1994. He now owns two business focused in the private medical sector and works with senior clinicians and healthcare providers on a daily basis advising on a variety of healthcare issues. He is also a Member of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. He is interested in all aspects of healthcare and regularly blogs on related medical, business and technology issues and also hosts the only podcast in the country focusing on private medical insurance. He is lives in Leeds, West Yorkshire but has clients across the UK and internationally. He is married to Hazel, a Senior HR Manager with two children : Megan aged 13 and Ryan, 7. His interests include technology, podcasting, science fiction and martial arts - he is a Second Dan Black Belt in Tai Sabaki Do Karate and 2nd Kyu Brown Belt in Shukokai Karate so health and fitness dominate both his business and personal life. Read his blog at and visit his websites : and

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