Cardiovascular disease causes 4 million deaths each year
A study by the University of Oxford has revealed that cancer is now the biggest killer across countries in Europe, replacing cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death.
Currently four million deaths each year can be attributed to cardiovascular disease, which is nearly half of the European total. However, the report, published in the European Heart Journal, shows that improving heart health means that cancer is now a bigger threat in some countries, such as Denmark.
The number of deaths from illnesses such as heart attacks and strokes have been declining for decades, with lifestyle improvements such as quitting smoking, as well as better treatments being pinpointed for the fall. The new analysis reveals that now cancer causes more deaths in men across 10 countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Israel, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and San Marino. In Denmark, cancer deaths have overtaken cardiovascular deaths in women as well.
Cancer death rates
However, 15 countries out of the 52 analysed, had four times the number of cardiovascular deaths in women as deaths from cancer. The highest death rates were in some eastern European countries, with the report showing that cardiovascular deaths in 55- to 59-year-old men in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Ukraine were all higher than the death rate in French men who were 20 years older.
Researchers Dr Mike Rayner told the BBC “It is due to the decline in cardiovascular disease not an increase in cancer. There have been improvements in the incidence and treatment of cardiovascular disease and we haven’t seen the same improvements in cancer.”
Simon Gillespie, the chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said “It’s good news that the number of lives being taken too soon by cardiovascular disease is falling across Europe. However, the fact remains that heart disease and stroke remain the biggest cause of death among Europeans. Perhaps surprisingly, more women are dying from cardiovascular disease than men. These figures are a stark reminder that women need to be more aware of their heart health as heart disease kills almost three times as many women as breast cancer.”