Which are the most common causes of death worldwide?
Death is an inevitable fate to which everyone is destined, but its causes may vary from one person to another. Some causes are more common than others, but the perception of risks does not always correspond to what is actually dangerous.
The fear of flying or dying by lightning or even a shark attacks are just phobias, as they are not among the most common ways to die.
Mosquitos, on the other hand, are perceived as harmless but they are the deadliest animals on earth, causing about 620,000 deaths per year through malaria.
Meanwhile, cardiovascular diseases are the most common causes of death followed by cancer which became the leading cause in western countries at the end of the 21st century.
Obviously, ways of death depend on the geographical distribution of the population in the planet. In undeveloped countries, for example, malnutrition, digestive diseases or diarrhoea are very common.
In the following list, you will find the 30 leading causes of death in the world and a brief description for each of them.
The ranking is based on the number of deaths, not taking into account risk factors such as obesity, poor diet and lack of physical exercise.
The information has been obtained from the University of Oxford’s data office and corresponds to the year 2017.
They are diseases that affect the circulatory and vascular system such as heart attacks, embolism, thrombosis and hypertension. They are the most common causes of death worldwide, leading to 17.79 million deaths.
Cancer is not a single disease but a set of complex diseases. As many as 9.56 million people die each year from various types of tumours. Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer globally, while breast cancer is the most frequent in women and prostate cancer in men.
A respiratory disease may be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergies or irritation by toxic agents such as snuff. Pneumonia, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or chronic bronchitis are some examples.
Each year, 3.91 million people die from respiratory diseases.
Dementia is a group of diseases associated with age and characterised by a generalised cognitive impairment and, sometimes, also physical. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 70% of all cases. Globally, dementias cause the death of 2.5 million people per year.
This type of diseases affects the organs that make up the digestive system. Annually, they end the lives of 2.38 million people.
Premature children are usually divided into categories according to the week of birth and their birth weight. Complications and disorders cause 1.78 million deaths per year.
In extreme cases, diarrhoea can lead to dehydration and ultimately death. They are usually caused by bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, shigella or campylobacter, which can be found in contaminated food.
Every year, 1.57 million people die from diarrhoea worldwide.
A metabolic disease caused by the increase in blood glucose. Genetics are often associated with the index of diabetes, but the food consumed is also a risk factor.
As many as 1,37 million people die from diabetes every year.
The liver is the body’s largest organ and is essential for its proper functioning, because it eliminates toxins, helps digest food and stores energy. Liver diseases cause the death of 1.32 million people every year.
The odds of dying in a car accident are 1 in 84 for an average person. Injuries caused by traffic accidents lead to 1.24 million deaths worldwide.
They are diseases such as kidney failure or pyelonephritis and kill 1.23 million people every year.
Sepsis is the leading cause of death for hospitalised patients, and it’s a result of multiple organ failures caused by an abnormal response of the body to infection. Normally it usually occurs due to complications associated with other diseases, so it is difficult to establish the number of annual deaths. However, scientists place it among the main causes of mortality.
An infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Each year, it causes 1.18 million deaths worldwide.
AIDS is a disease caused by an immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Its mortality is reduced each year due to the progress of medicine, but it still causes one million deaths across the world.
Suicide is one of the most frequent causes of unnatural death, after traffic accidents. In 2017, 793,823 people suicided worldwide, while in Spain, ten people commit suicide every day.
It is a set of diseases that are caused by protozoa of the genus Plasmodium, and is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito. Malaria is the most common of tropical diseases, and was the cause of death for 619,827 people in 2017.
Homicides and murders caused the death of 405,346 people back in 2017. In some cities, homicide is one of the leading causes of death.
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease causing limited motion. It is the second most frequent disease of this type after Alzheimer's disease, and mainly affects the elderly. As many as 340,639 people died globally from Parkinson's in 2017.
Drowning is directly related to the socioeconomic situation, as according to the UN, low and middle income countries account for 90 percent of drowning deaths. In Africa, cases of drowning are 15 to 20 percent higher than in Europe.
In 2017, 295,210 people died from drowning worldwide.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, which are the membranes surrounding the central nervous system. The most common cause of meningitis is a bacterial infection, and in 2017, it caused the death of 288,021 people.
When the body does not receive the necessary nutrients to function properly, the person in question suffers from malnutrition.
Poor nutrition, but mainly starvation are the ultimate causes of death, with 269,997 people dying worldwide from malnutrition back in 2017.
Nearly 200,000 women die each year from complications during or after childbirth, or during pregnancy. WHO notes that most of these deaths could have been avoided as the vast majority of them occur in low-income countries.
This section is broken down into two causes of death, although both substances are drugs.
As many as 184,934 died in 2017 from alcohol abuse, while 166 613 passed away due to other drugs’ abuse.
Wars and human conflicts of various kinds were the cause of 129,720 deaths in 2017.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and is classified according to its transmission. Hepatitis A, for example, is transmitted by a pathogen that can inhabit contaminated food and water.
In 2017, 126,391 people died from hepatitis.
Smoke suffocation is the leading cause of death from a fire. It leads to 120,000 deaths each year worldwide.
Iodine, selenium or fluoride are some of the most common substances which cause poisoning and lead to the death of approximately 70,000 people each year.
Extreme temperatures, taking into account both hot and cold situations, are the cause of death for 50,000 people in the world every year.
Violent attacks provoked by organised groups with certain objectives kill about 25,000 people a year worldwide.
Finally, natural disasters kill approximately 10,000 people each year across the world.
Natural disasters are expected to increase due to climate change, which will also skyrocket the cost of living and lead to millions of climate refugees.