Heart disease behind 16% of global deaths in 2019: WHO report

2019 Global Health Estimates

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In News:

  • The World Health Organization recently released the 2019 Global Health Estimates.

WHO 2019 Global Health Estimates:

  • The report gives comprehensive data for population health, including life expectancy, mortality and morbidity, and burden of disease at global, regional and country levels.
  • The report gives trends for more than 160 diseases and injuries annually from 2000 to 2019. 
  • Morbidity refers to a situation where a person has a disease and mortality refers to death.
2019 Global Health Estimates

Key findings:

Increase in non-communicable diseases:
  • Non-communicable diseases now form 7 of the world’s top 10 causes of death. This is an increase from 4 of the 10 leading causes in 2000.
  • All non-communicable diseases together accounted for 74% of deaths globally in 2019.
Heart disease:
  • Heart disease has remained the leading cause of death at the global level for the last 20 years. However, it is now killing more people than ever before.
  • The number of deaths from heart disease increased by more than 2 million since 2000, to nearly 9 million in 2019. Heart disease now represents 16% of total deaths from all causes.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia:
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are now among the top 10 causes of death worldwide, ranking 3rd in both the Americas and Europe in 2019.
  • Women are disproportionally affected and globally 65% of deaths from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia were among females.
  • Dementia is a general term to describe a group of symptoms which occurs due to the damage and death of brain cells.
  • It is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday activities
  • Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate and die. Memory loss and confusion are the main symptoms.
  • Deaths from diabetes increased by 70% globally between 2000 and 2019, with an 80% rise in deaths among males.
  • In the Eastern Mediterranean, deaths from diabetes have more than doubled and represent the greatest percentage increase of all WHO regions.
Decline in communicable diseases:
  • There has been a global decline in deaths from communicable diseases but it still remains a major challenge in low- and 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).
Respiratory infections:
  • In 2019, pneumonia and other lower respiratory infections were the deadliest group of communicable diseases and together ranked as the fourth leading cause of death.
  • However, compared to 2000, lower respiratory infections are claiming fewer lives compared to the past, with the global number of deaths decreasing by nearly half a million.
  • Tuberculosis is also no longer in the global top 10 causes of death. It moved from 7th place in 2000 to 13th in 2019, with a 30% reduction in global deaths.
  • However, it remains among the top 10 causes of deaths in the African and South-East Asian regions, where it is the 8th and 5th leading cause respectively.
  • HIV/AIDS dropped from the 8th leading cause of death in 2000 to the 19th in 2019, reflecting the success of efforts over the last two decades.
Increase in disability:
  • The new projections state that people are living longer but with more disability. In 2019, people were living more than 6 years longer than in 2000, with a global average of more than 73 years in 2019 compared to nearly 67 in 2000.
  • However, on average, only 5 of those additional years were lived in good health.
  • To a large extent, the diseases and health conditions that are causing the most deaths are responsible for the greatest number of healthy life-years lost.
  • Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (lung disease) were collectively responsible for nearly 100 million additional healthy life-years lost in 2019 compared to 2000.
Injury induced death and disability:
  • Injuries are another major cause of disability and death, with the African region recording a significant rise in road traffic injuries since 2000.
  • Globally, 75% of deaths from road traffic injuries are among males.

Way Ahead:

  • The estimates are another reminder that there is a need to rapidly increase prevention, diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases.
  • Strong primary health care is clearly the foundation on which everything rests, from dealing with non-communicable diseases to managing a global pandemic.
  • Thus, there is an urgent need to drastically improve primary health care equitably and holistically.

Also Read: NDHM will radically transform health care

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