Biggest Health Killers of 2019? Heart Disease, Diabetes : WHO

Health News
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Biggest Health Killers of 2019? Heart Disease, Diabetes : WHO

In 2019, non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease emerged as the leader causes of death as per data by the World Health Organization.

The WHO’s s 2019 Global Health Estimates indicated the trends of mortality and morbidity in the past two decades, and found that “noncommunicable diseases now make up 7 of the world’s top 10 causes of death.”

The number one killer of them all? Heart disease, which accounts for 16 per cent of all deaths.

“The number of deaths from heart disease increased by more than 2 million since 2000, to nearly 9 million in 2019,” as per the WHO. Meanwhile, deaths from diabetes increased by 70 per cent worldwide between 2000 and 2019.

Mental health illnesses like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are also among the top 10 causes of death.

These new estimates are another reminder that we need to rapidly step up prevention, diagnosis and treatment of noncommunicable diseases. They highlight the urgency of drastically improving primary health care equitably and holistically. Strong primary health care is clearly the foundation on which everything rests, from combatting noncommunicable diseases to managing a global pandemic.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO

The report highlighted seven diseases that accounted for 24.4 million deaths, or 44% of all deaths globally, in 2019.

First came heart disease, which killed almost 9 million people, then second came strokes, and third was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Trachea, bronchus and lung cancers, and kidney disease, were also on the rise. Seventh was dementia, and this disproportionately affected women as 65 per cent of the deaths were of women. Ninth was diabetes, and this saw an 80 per cent rise in male deaths from 2000.

Decline in Deaths from Communicable Disease

Pneumonia and other lower respiratory infections were together ranked as the fourth leading cause of death in 2019. But compared to 2000, the WHO report found that “lower respiratory infections were claiming fewer lives than in the past, with the global number of deaths decreasing by nearly half a million.”

Other communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis both saw a decline in their mortality rates reflecting the success of treatment interventions over the last few decades. For example, HIV/AIDS dropped to the 19th leading cause of death in 2019 from the 8th in 2000, but it still remains the 4th leading cause of death in Africa - although the total number of deaths has dropped by more than half.

These results are on par with the global decline in deaths from communicable diseases. Still, the report highlighted that communicable diseases still account for many deaths in low to middle-income countries.

“6 of the top 10 causes of death in low-income countries are still communicable diseases, including malaria (6th), tuberculosis (8th) and HIV/AIDS (9th).”
WHO 2019 Global Health Estimates report.

The report also added that there was a global rise in people living with disabilities, and the diseases and health conditions that are causing the most deaths are responsible for the greatest number of healthy life-years lost.

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