Top 5 Causes of Death Worldwide

The prevalence of causes of death can vary significantly based on geographic location, lifestyle, healthcare access, and socioeconomic factors.
Understanding the leading causes of death worldwide. (Unsplash)
Understanding the leading causes of death worldwide. (Unsplash)

According to the WHO, the global causes of death in order to the total number of lives list are associated with three broad topics which are:

  • Cardiovascular (ischemic heart disease, stroke)

  • Respiratory (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lower respiratory infections)

  • Neonatal conditions

Top 5 leading causes of death globally

1. Ischemic heart disease: Ischemia is defined as inadequate blood supply (circulation) to a local area due to blockage of the blood vessels supplying the area. Ischemic heart disease is a condition that weakens the heart caused by blood flow to the heart. Ischemic heart disease, also called coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease is the term given to heart problems caused by narrowed arteries that supply blood to the heart. The world’s biggest killer is ischemic heart disease, which is responsible for 16% of the world’s total deaths. Since 2000, the largest number of deaths has been caused by this disease, which increased by more than 2 million to 8.9 million deaths in the year 2019.

2. Stroke: Stroke is a condition that happens when part of the brain doesn’t get enough blood flow. This most commonly happens because of a blockage of blood in the arteries. Without a steady supply of blood, the brain cells start to die from a lack of oxygen. According to the World Health Organization, Stroke is the second leading cause of death around the world, causing 6.6 million deaths in the year 2020. The number of people who die from stroke worldwide will jump 50% by 2050 if no significant action is taken to limit the prevalence of stroke and its risk factors, according to a new report from the World Stroke Organization-Lancet Neurology Commission, a new group formed to forecast the condition’s epidemiological and economic impacts.

3. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. COBD symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, and wheezing. This condition is typically caused by long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, mostly from cigarette smoke. People with COPD are at increased risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer, and a variety of other conditions. Nearly 90% of COPD deaths in those under 70 years of age occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Tobacco smoking accounts for over 70% of COPD cases in high-income countries. In LMIC tobacco smoking accounts for 30–40% of COPD cases, and household air pollution is a major risk factor.

The common causes of a lower respiratory tract infection (RTI) is virus or bacteria, which causes infection at the airways including the trachea and the alveolar sacs.(Representational image Unsplash)
The common causes of a lower respiratory tract infection (RTI) is virus or bacteria, which causes infection at the airways including the trachea and the alveolar sacs.(Representational image Unsplash)

4. Lower Respiratory Infections: Lower respiratory infections remained the world’s most deadly communicable disease, ranked as the 4th leading cause of death. However, the number of deaths has gone down substantially: in 2019 it claimed 2.6 million lives, 460 000 fewer than in 2000. The common causes of a lower respiratory tract infection (RTI) is virus or bacteria, which causes infection at the airways including the trachea and the alveolar sacs.

5. Neonatal Conditions: Neonatal conditions are ranked 5th as most common cause of death worldwide. Neonatal disorders is a condition which causes disturbance of normal state of body, organs of a newborn child. Globally approximately  about 10% of newborns need special care after birth due to prematurity problems, difficulty in breathing, infections, or any other abnormalities. In this type of situations specialized care is often given to the newborns in a neonatal intensive care centers.

References:

  1. https://search.app/Mhp6iQL3AMzXA9x89 (cited on 29/6/2024)

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209964/ (cited on 30/06/2024)

  3. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-(copd) (cited on 30/06/2024)

 By Ankur Deka

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