Cardiovascular diseases remain the number one cause of death throughout the world

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WHO Fact Sheet

Cardiovascular diseases remain the
number one cause of death throughout the world
Non Communicable Diseases responsible
for two-thirds of all deaths globally

WHO has updated its list of leading causes of death worldwide, and has issued a fact sheet and fact file to explain the changes that have occurred between 2000 and 2011. Cardiovascular diseases remain the number one cause of death throughout the world, and killed nearly 17 million people in 2011, that is 3 in every 10 deaths. Of these, 7 million people died of ischaemic heart disease and 6.2 million from stroke.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) were responsible for two-thirds of all deaths globally in 2011, up from 60% in 2000. The four main NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. Communicable, maternal, perinatal and nutrition conditions collectively were responsible for a quarter of global deaths and injuries caused 9% of all deaths.
Non-communicable diseases cause increasing numbers of deaths worldwide. Lung cancers (along with trachea and bronchus cancers) caused 1.5 million (2.7%) deaths in 2011, up from 1.2 million (2.2%) deaths in 2000. Similarly, diabetes caused 1.4 million (2.6%) deaths in 2011, up from 1.0 million (1.9%) deaths in 2000.
Ischaemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive lung disease, diarrhoea and HIV/AIDS have remained the top major killers during the past decade. Tuberculosis is no longer among the 10 leading causes of death, but is still among the top 15.. Road traffic accidents claimed nearly 3500 lives each day in 2011 – about 700 more than in the year 2000 – making it among the top 10 leading causes in 2011. Prematurity claimed 200 000 fewer infant lives in 2011 than in 2000, but remains among the 10 leading causes of death.
Deaths from NCDs do not only occur in high-income countries. In terms of number of deaths, 26 million (nearly 80%) of the 36 million of global NCD deaths in 2011 occurred in low- and middle-income countries. In terms of proportion of deaths that are due to NCDs, high-income countries have the highest proportion – 87% of all deaths were caused by NCDs – followed by upper-middle income countries (81%). The proportions are lower in low-income countries (36%) and lower-middle income countries (56%).
Tobacco use remains 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 1 in 10 adults worldwide. Smoking is often the hidden cause of the disease recorded as responsible for death.

The 10 leading causes of death in the world, 2000 and 2011

Ischaemic heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive lung disease, diarrhoea and HIV/AIDS have remained the top major killers during the past decade. Tuberculosis is no longer among the 10 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%) deaths in 2011, up from 1.2 million (2.2%) deaths in 2000. Similarly, diabetes caused 1.4 million (2.6%) deaths in 2011, up from 1.0 million (1.9%) deaths in 2000. Road traffic accidents claimed nearly 3500 lives each day in 2011 – about 700 more than in the year 2000 – making it among the top 10 leading causes in 2011. Prematurity claimed 200 000 fewer infant lives in 2011 than in 2000, but remains among the 10 leading causes of death.

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