Top 10 Causes of Death Worldwide

In 2015*, there were 56.4 million reported deaths worldwide. More than half of these deaths were due to the top 10 causes of death. The figures below are in million numbers of deaths.

  1. Ischemic heart disease (8.76)
  2. Stroke (6.24)
  3. Lower respiratory infections (3.19)
  4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (3.17)
  5. Trachea, bronchus, lung cancers (1.69)
  6. Diabetes mellitus (1.59)
  7. Alzheimer disease and other dementias (1.54)
  8. Diarrheal diseases (1.39)
  9. Tuberculosis (1.37)
  10. Road injury (1.34)

Ischaemic Heart Disease

8.76 million died due to ischemic heart disease in 2015. For 15 years now, ischemic heart disease has been one of the leading causes of death worldwide. More men died of this disease but the margin is not far from that of women.

Mostly affected were ages 70 and older, followed by those in their 60s. But there were also men and women in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who died of ischemic heart disease.

Europe topped the list of mostly affected having reported 2.428 million deaths in 2015. This number has dwindled since 2005.

Ischemic heart disease is also know as coronary artery disease. It is a condition that affects the coronary arteries or coronaries, for short. Coronaries are blood vessels that supply blood to the heart. If the heart does not receive blood or the right amount of blood supply, the person may experience angina or suffer a heart attack. Angina is chest pain due to the heart not receiving enough blood supply.

Cholesterol deposits that accumulate in the blood vessels cause the narrowing of the vessels; thus, preventing regular blood flow to the heart. If the cardiac muscle of the heart does not receive the blood that it needs, the health of the body is affected. In worst cases, if the disease is not treated, the cholesterol deposits will eventually and totally block the coronaries causing angina or a heart attack which may be fatal.


6.24 million died of stroke in 2015. Mostly affected were men and women ages 30 and older. Those in 70+ age were affected the most — 3.99 million deaths; followed by those in their 60s with a recorded 1.27 million deaths.

Most women died of stroke (3.25 million deaths, mostly in their 70s) compared to men (2.99 million deaths). However, younger men died most due to stroke in the ages 30-69. Most women would likely die from stroke when they reach 70. This trend has not changed since 2000 based on the study conducted by WHO.

Men and women from the Western Pacific Region (2.49 million deaths) had the most number of deaths due to stroke followed by those in the South East Asian region (1.35 million deaths). The region of the Americas and the African region had the fewest number of deaths due to stroke (422,200 and 450,900 deaths respectively).

What is Stroke?

If blood supply suddenly is blocked to a particular part of the brain, a stroke occurs. Brain cells rely on oxygen and nutrients supplied by the blood. Without oxygen and nutrients, the brain cells die. When particular brain cells die, the parts of the body controlled by these cells stop working. Thus, a stroke victim may lose the ability to speak, parts of his body may be paralysed,  or stop breathing.

Blood supply to the brain is cut off when an artery breaks or there is a blood clot in an artery or blood vessels.

*Latest study conducted by WHO

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