The top 10 causes of death
Major causes of death
Q: How many people die every year?
During 2008, an estimated 57 million people died.
Q: What is the number one cause of death throughout the world?
Cardiovascular diseases kill more people each year than any others. In 2008, 7.3 million people died of ischaemic heart disease, 6.2 million from stroke or another form of cerebrovascular disease.
Q: Isn't smoking a top cause of death?
Tobacco use is a major cause of many of the world’s top killer diseases – including cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive lung disease and lung cancer. In total, tobacco use is responsible for the death of almost one in 10 adults worldwide. Smoking is often the hidden cause of the disease recorded as responsible for death.
Q: What are the main differences between rich and poor countries with respect to causes of death?
In high-income countries more than two thirds of all people live beyond the age of 70 and predominantly die of chronic diseases: cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, cancers, diabetes or dementia. Lung infection remains the only leading infectious cause of death.
In middle-income countries, nearly half of all people live to the age of 70 and chronic diseases are the major killers, just as they are in high-income countries. Unlike in high-income countries, however, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and road traffic accidents also are leading causes of death.
In low-income countries less than one in five of all people reach the age of 70, and more than a third of all deaths are among children under 15. People predominantly die of infectious diseases: lung infections, diarrhoeal diseases, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Complications of pregnancy and childbirth together continue to be leading causes of death, claiming the lives of both infants and mothers.
Q: How many young children die each year?
More than 8 million deaths in 2008 were among children under five years of age, and 99% of them were in low- and middle-income countries.