Obese
The CEBR Research says UK will be one of the hardest hit countries in Western EuropeReuters

The Centre for Economic and Business Research has warned Britain that the country faces a whopping £18.4bn in costs related to heart disease by 2020.

According to the thinktank's latest research, the UK will be one of the hardest hit countries in Western Europe by cardiovascular disease, which is linked to obesity and smoking.

Those who are overweight are also more likely to develop heart disease as well.

In total, direct and indirect costs linked to heart disease will hit £97bn (€122bn, $161bn) across France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden and the UK, says CEBR.

Only Germany is expected to beat the UK in heart disease related costs in the future. CEBR says Germany's total bill will rise to £32.8bn by 2020, from previous estimates of £29.4bn.

"The figures set out in this new study are stark," said Tom Keith-Roach at AstraZeneca, which commissioned the CEBR research.

"The financial burden of cardiovascular disease and the human impact on individuals and their families is only set to rise unless we address this epidemic head-on. This requires a continued, coordinated focus across industry, academia, healthcare systems and governments."

AstraZeneca's new heart drug Brilinta has just been cleared by US authorities following a probe into its clinical trial.

According to the World Heart Federation, there are 400 million adults worldwide who are obese and one billion who are overweight.

In January, the National Obesity Forum also warned that the prediction of 50% of the UK population becoming obese by 2050 is "underestimating" the problem.

Meanwhile, statistics from Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) shows a sixth of Britain's population smokes, equivalent to 10 million adults.

Ash added that every year, over 100,000 smokers in the UK die from smoking related causes and smoking accounts for about one-seventh of cardiovascular disease deaths.