Heart Disease Remains Leading Cause Of Death Worldwide

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Ischaemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive lung disease, diarrhea and HIV/AIDS have remained the top major killers worldwide during the past decade.

The World Health Organization's updated fact sheet describes the leading causes of death worldwide, based on a comparative study of the situation in 2000 and 2011, enhanced with new data graphics and easy-to-read questions and answers.

Tuberculosis is no longer among the ten leading causes of death, but is still among the top 15, killing one million people in 2011.

Chronic diseases cause increasing numbers of deaths worldwide. Lung cancers (along with trachea and bronchus cancers) caused 1.5 million (2.7 percent) deaths in 2011, up from 1.2 million (2.2 percent) deaths in 2000. Similarly, diabetes caused 1.4 million (2.6 percent) deaths in 2011, up from one million (1.9 percent) deaths in 2000.

In 2011, an estimated 55 million people died worldwide, two-thirds of which due to non-communicable diseases (NCD), up from 60 percent in 2000. The four main NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. Communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutrition conditions collectively were responsible for a quarter of global deaths, and injuries caused nine percent of all deaths.

Cardiovascular diseases remained the number one cause of death throughout the world, killing nearly 17 million people in 2011, that is three in every ten deaths. Of these, seven million people died of ischaemic heart disease and 6.2 million from stroke.

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 about one in ten adults worldwide. Smoking is often the hidden cause of the disease recorded as responsible for death.

Maternal mortality dropped from 420,000 in 2000 to 280,000 in 2011, but is still unacceptably high.

Injuries continue to kill five million people each year. Road accident injuries claimed nearly 3,500 lives every day in 2011 - about 700 more than in the year 2000 - making it among the top ten leading causes in 2011.

Nearly 80 percent of the 36 million global NCD deaths in 2011 occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

In 2011, 6.9 million children died before reaching their fifth birthday; almost all of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Measuring how many people die each year and why they died is one of the most important means - along with gaging how diseases and injuries are affecting people - for assessing the effectiveness of a country's health system.

The U.N. health agency noted that improvements in producing high quality cause-of-death data are crucial for improving health and reducing preventable deaths in many low- and middle-income countries.

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