One in four deaths today due to heart disease, stroke, says study

Non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease killed two out of three people in 2010 a larger share than in 1990, when they were responsible for every second death in the world.

Of the 52.8 million people who died worldwide in 2010, ischaemic heart disease and stroke accounted for 12.9 million, or 24 per cent. Two decades ago, in 1990, IHD killed 9.9 million people, which was around a fifth of all deaths that year. Eight million people died of cancer in 2010, which was almost 38 per cent more than the 5.8 million who died of the disease in 1990.

Results of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2010, published in The Lancet on Thursday, show heart disease and stroke continue to be the top two killers worldwide.

Deaths from road traffic injuries have increased 50 per cent between 1990 and 2010. Blood pressure is currently the biggest risk factor for disease worldwide, followed by tobacco, alcohol and poor diet.

Infectious diseases, maternal and child illness, and malnutrition cause fewer deaths than they did 20 years ago, but more young adults and middle-aged people are suffering and dying from disease and injury now. The forces of nature are playing a more important role in causing deaths worldwide, the study found.

The study, which has taken over five years and involved 486 authors in 50 countries, comprises seven articles on various aspects of death, disability and life expectancy. This the first systematic and comprehensive assessment of global data on disease, injuries and risk since the first GBD study was commissioned by the World Bank in 1990. It was led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington.

The study reports a striking increase in deaths because of HIV/AIDS/tuberculosis and malaria.

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