What Are The Main Causes of Death in Europe?

A look at what happened in Pre-Covid-19 times

We rarely touch on this topic about death, many for fear, others for thinking that it is a bad omen, however, it is a topic that should be seen as normal.

Death remains a taboo subject in most societies. It is not that it is socially forbidden to talk about how we die, what are the causes of death, but that, since we do not like it, we avoid it.

From the religions or certain other very specific metaphysic disciplines, the question of death is treated, but it is less common to be approached from a secular perspective or that it be part of our socialization. It is an inevitable part of life, but we try to deny it, and it is understandable.

More than talking about it, it is relevant to talk about the data on the causes of death. We have to specify what we mean by cause of death.

This would be the disease or injury that started the morbid (disease-causing) events that led directly to death or the circumstance of the accident or violence that caused the fatal injury.

This definition derives from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) of the World Health Organization. The classifications can vary when the cause of death is multiple or difficult to assess, even for different reasons for notification, but it is very relevant to know the general situation in the European Union.

The question of the cause of mortality is relevant not only because of the aforementioned confusion, but because, as Eurostat points out, given that there is a general lack of comprehensive European statistics on morbidity, we can use the data on causes of death as a tool to assess EU health systems

During 2019, the main cause of death among people under 65 was cancer, while for those over 65 it was circulatory diseases. According to European statistics (Eurostat), for 2019 these are the causes of death – standardized mortality rate:

Ischemic heart disease

Cerebrovascular disease

Cancer of the tracheas, bronchi, and lung

Chronic diseases of the lower respiratory tract


Colon cancer


Diabetes mellitus

Pancreatic cancer

Breast cancer

Chronic liver disease

Kidney disease

Stomach cancer

Intentional self-inflicted damage

Mental disorders


Drug dependence

According to the International Classification of Diseases, two main groups of diseases are related to the circulatory system: Ischemic heart disease (also known as coronary heart disease, including heart attacks) and cerebrovascular disease (strokes).

Second, the highest overall cause of mortality was cancer (23.8%). Among all cancers, lung cancer was the most common cause of death among the elderly. Finally, we would have deaths from respiratory diseases (8.9%).

Respiratory diseases include chronic diseases of the lower respiratory tract or asthma, as well as infectious diseases such as the flu or pneumonia.

By gender, women have a greater impact of circulatory diseases than men (41.2% vs. 35.7%) but somewhat less cancer (28.4% vs. 19.7%) or diseases of the respiratory system (9.9% vs. 8.1% of males).

At the territorial level and within the European Union, during 2019 ischemic heart disease (or coronary heart disease, which would be when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle are blocked preventing blood flow from reaching) caused higher mortality than cerebrovascular diseases except for Bulgaria, Greece, France, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Portugal.

In the rest of the European Union, according to Eurostat, there were 534 deaths per 100,000 65+ inhabitants, compared to 376 per 100,000 inhabitants of that age group.

As we have already seen, the main causes of death in Europe revolve around circulatory and cerebrovascular problems, so efforts must be made to lower these levels, which must be based on raising awareness among the population to avoid that these figures continue to increase.

Resonance Costa Rica
VIAGuillermo Agudelo
SOURCEEdixon Colmenarez
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