The Causes Of Death/ The top 10 causes of death And Their Definition
Unfortunately, death having a purpose does not automatically give meaning to life. And if life turns out to be meaningless, then death, even if it were evolutionarily valuable, would also be meaningless. We have simply removed some common misconceptions regarding death and its effect on the meaning of life.
According to the whole-brain standard, human death is the irreversible cessation of the functioning of the entire brain, including the brainstem. This standard is generally associated with an organismic definition of death (as explained below).
The death of humans is seen as a “natural” and essential part of life, comparable to the natural history of other life forms in nature, yet it is also seen by many religions as uniquely different in profound ways. Death is often defined as the cessation of all the biological functions that sustain a living organism.
What is Death?
Death is the permanent, irreversible cessation of all biological functions that sustain an organism. Brain death is sometimes used as a legal definition of death. The remains of a former organism normally begin to decompose shortly after death. Death is an inevitable, universal process that eventually occurs in all organisms.
Death is generally applied to whole organisms; the similar process seen in individual components of an organism, such as cells or tissues, is necrosis. Something that is not considered an organism, such as a virus, can be physically destroyed but is not said to die.
As of the early 21st century, over 150,000 humans die each day, with aging being by far the most common cause of death.
Death, particularly of humans, has commonly been considered a sad or unpleasant occasion, Due to the affection for the deceased and the termination of social and familial bonds. Other concerns include fear of death or anxiety from the thought of death. Necrophobia, feelings of sorrow, grief, depression, solitude, or Saudade for the deceased. And/or feelings of sympathy or compassion for the deceased or the loved ones of the deceased.
Many cultures and religions have the idea of an afterlife, and also may hold the idea of judgment of good and bad deeds in one’s life (Heaven, Hell, Karma).
The Causes Of Death
The leading cause of human death in developing countries is an infectious disease. The leading causes in developed countries are atherosclerosis (heart disease and stroke). Cancer, and other diseases related to obesity and aging. By an extremely wide margin. The largest unifying cause of death in the developed world is biological aging. Leading to various complications known as aging-associated diseases.
These conditions cause loss of homeostasis, leading to cardiac arrest. Causing loss of oxygen and nutrient supply. Causing irreversible deterioration of the brain and other tissues. Of the roughly 150,000 people who die each day across the globe. About two-thirds die of age-related causes. In industrialized nations, the proportion is much higher, approaching 90%. With improved medical capability, dying has become a condition to be managed. Home deaths, once commonplace, are now rare in the developed world.
In developing nations, inferior sanitary conditions and lack of access to modern medical technology make death from infectious diseases more common than in developed countries. One such disease is tuberculosis, a bacterial disease that killed 1.8M people in 2015. Malaria causes about 400–900M cases of fever and 1–3M deaths annually. AIDS death toll in Africa may reach 90–100M by 2025.
According to Jean Ziegler
According to Jean Ziegler, mortality due to malnutrition accounted for 58% of the total mortality rate in 2006. Ziegler says worldwide approximately 62M people died from all causes and of those deaths, more than 36M died of hunger or diseases due to deficiencies in micronutrients.
Tobacco smoking killed 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century and could kill 1 billion people around the world in the 21st century, a World Health Organization report warned.
Many leading developed world causes of death can be postponed by diet and physical activity, but the accelerating incidence of disease with age still imposes limits on human longevity. The evolutionary cause of aging is, at best, only just beginning to be understood. It has been suggested that direct intervention in the aging process may now be the most effective intervention against major causes of death.
Selye proposed a unified non-specific approach to many causes of death
Selye proposed a unified non-specific approach to many causes of death. He demonstrated that stress decreases the adaptability of an organism and proposed to describe adaptability as a special resource, adaptation energy. The animal dies when this resource is exhausted. Selye assumed that adaptability is a finite supply, presented at birth.
Later on, Goldstone proposed the concept of production or income of adaptation energy which may be stored, as a capital reserve of adaptation. In recent works, adaptation energy is considered as an internal coordinate on the “dominant path” in the model of adaptation. It is demonstrated that oscillations of well-being appear when the reserve of adaptability is almost exhausted.
In 2012, suicide overtook car crashes for leading causes of human injury deaths in the U.S., followed by poisoning, falls, and murder. Causes of death are different in different parts of the world. In high-income and middle-income countries nearly half up to more than two-thirds of all people live beyond the age of 70 and predominantly die of chronic diseases.
In low-income countries, where less than one in five of all people reach the age of 70, and more than a third of all deaths are among children under 15, people predominantly die of infectious diseases.
An autopsy is also known as a postmortem examination or an obduction. Is a medical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a human corpse. To determine the cause and manner of a person’s death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present. It is usually performed by a specialized medical doctor called a pathologist.
Autopsies are either performed for legal or medical purposes. A forensic autopsy is carried out when the cause of death may be a criminal matter. While a clinical or academic autopsy is performed to find the medical cause of death. And is used in cases of unknown or uncertain death, or for research purposes. Autopsies can be further classified into cases where external examination suffices. And those where the body is dissected and an internal examination is conducted.
Permission from the next of kin may be required for internal autopsy in some cases. Once an internal autopsy is complete the body is generally reconstituted by sewing it back together. An autopsy is important in a medical environment and may shed light on mistakes and help improve practices.
A necropsy, which is not always a medical procedure, was a term previously used to describe an unregulated postmortem examination. In modern times, this term is more commonly associated with the corpses of animals.
The top 10 causes of death
The top global causes of death, in order of the total number of lives lost, are associated with three broad topics: cardiovascular (ischaemic heart disease, stroke), respiratory (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lower respiratory infections), and neonatal conditions – which include birth asphyxia and birth trauma, neonatal sepsis and infections, and preterm birth complications.
Causes of death can be grouped into three categories: communicable (infectious and parasitic diseases and maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions), non-communicable (chronic), and injuries.
1. Leading causes of death globally
At a global level, 7 of the 10 leading causes of death in 2022 were non-communicable diseases. These seven causes accounted for 44% of all deaths or 80% of the top 10. However, all noncommunicable diseases together accounted for 74% of deaths globally in 2022.
The world’s biggest killer is ischaemic heart disease, responsible for 16% of the world’s total deaths. Since 2000, the largest increase in deaths has been for this disease, rising by more than 2 million to 8.9 million deaths in 2022. Stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are the 2nd and 3rd leading causes of death, responsible for approximately 11% and 6% of total deaths respectively.
Lower respiratory infections remained the world’s most deadly communicable disease, ranked as the 4th leading cause of death. However, the number of deaths has gone down substantially: in 2021 it claimed 2.6 million lives, 460 000 fewer than in 2000.
Neonatal conditions are ranked 5th. However, deaths from neonatal conditions are one of the categories for which the global decrease in deaths in absolute numbers over the past two decades has been the greatest: these conditions killed 2 million newborns and young children in 2022, 1.2 million fewer than in 2000.
Deaths from non-communicable diseases are on the rise. Trachea, bronchus, and lung cancers deaths have risen from 1.2 million to 1.8 million and are now ranked 6th among leading causes of death.
In 2022, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia ranked as the 7th leading cause of death. Women are disproportionately affected. Globally, 65% of deaths from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are women.
One of the largest declines in the number of deaths is from diarrhoeal diseases, with global deaths falling from 2.6 million in 2000 to 1.5 million in 2022.
Diabetes has entered the top 10 causes of death, following a significant percentage increase of 70% since 2000. Diabetes is also responsible for the largest rise in male deaths among the top 10, with an 80% increase since 2000.
Other diseases which were among the top 10 causes of death in 2000 are no longer on the list. HIV/AIDS is one of them. Deaths from HIV/AIDS have fallen by 51% during the last 20 years, moving from the world’s 8th leading cause of death in 2000 to the 19th in 2022.
Kidney diseases have risen from the world’s 13th leading cause of death to the 10th. Mortality has increased from 813 000 in 2000 to 1.3 million in 2022.
2. Leading causes of death by income group
The World Bank classifies the world’s economies into four income groups – based on gross national income – low, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high. People living in a low-income country are far more likely to die of a communicable disease than a noncommunicable disease. Despite the global decline, six of the top 10 causes of death in low-income countries are communicable diseases.
Malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS all remain in the top 10. However, all three are falling significantly. The biggest decrease among the top 10 deaths in this group has been for HIV/AIDS, with 59% fewer deaths in 2019 than in 2000, or 161 000 and 395 000 respectively.
Diarrhoeal diseases are more significant as a cause of death in low-income countries: they rank in the top 5 causes of death for this income category. Nonetheless, diarrhoeal diseases are decreasing in low-income countries, representing the second biggest decrease in fatalities among the top 10 (231 000 fewer deaths).
Deaths due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are particularly infrequent in low-income countries compared to other income groups. It does not appear in the top 10 for low-income countries yet ranks in the top 5 for all other income groups.
3. Leading causes of death in lower-middle-income countries
Lower-middle-income countries have the most disparate top 10 causes of death: five non-communicable, four communicable, and one injury. Diabetes is a rising cause of death in this income group: it has moved from the 15th to 9th leading cause of death and the number of deaths from this disease has nearly doubled since 2000.
As a top 10 cause of death in this income group, diarrhoeal diseases remain a significant challenge. However, this category of diseases represents the biggest decrease in absolute deaths. Falling from 1.9 million to 1.1 million between 2000 and 2022. The biggest increase in absolute deaths is from ischaemic heart disease. Rising by more than 1 million to 3.1 million since 2000. HIV/AIDS has seen the biggest decrease in rank among the previous top 10 causes of death in 2000, moving from 8th to 15th.
4. Leading causes of death in upper-middle-income countries
In upper-middle-income countries, there has been a notable rise in deaths from lung cancer, which have increased by 411 000; more than double the increase in deaths of all three other income groups combined. In addition, stomach cancer features highly in upper-middle-income countries compared to the other income groups, remaining the only group with this disease in the top 10 causes of death.
One of the biggest decreases in terms of the absolute number of deaths is for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which has fallen by nearly 264 000 to 1.3 million deaths. However, deaths from ischaemic heart disease have increased by more than 1.2 million, the largest rise in any income group in terms of the absolute number of deaths from this cause.
There is only one communicable disease (lower respiratory infections) in the top 10 causes of death for upper-middle-income countries. Notably, there has been a 31% fall in deaths from suicide since 2000 in this income category, decreasing to 234 000 deaths in 2022.
5. Leading causes of death in high-middle-income countries
In high-income countries, deaths are increasing for all top 10 diseases except two. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the only causes of death in the top 10 for which the total numbers have gone down between 2000 and 2022, by 16% (or 327 000 deaths) and by 21% (or 205 000 deaths) respectively.
High-income is the only category of income group in which there have been decreasing numbers of deaths from these two diseases. Nonetheless, ischaemic heart disease and stroke have remained in the top three causes of death for this income category. With a combined total of over 2.5 million fatalities in 2022. In addition, deaths from hypertensive heart disease are rising. Reflecting a global trend, this disease has risen from the 18th leading cause of death to the 9th.
Deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have increased, overtaking stroke to become the second leading cause in high-income countries, and being responsible for the deaths of 814 000 people in 2022. And, as with upper-middle-income countries, only one communicable disease, lower respiratory infections, appears in the top 10 causes of death.
Why do we need to know the reasons people die?
It is important to know why people die to improve how people live. Measuring how many people die each year helps to assess the effectiveness of our health systems and direct resources to where they are needed most. For example, mortality data can help focus activities. And resource allocation among sectors such as transportation, food and agriculture, and the environment as well as health.
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance for countries to invest in civil registration. And vital statistics systems to allow daily counting of deaths, and direct prevention and treatment efforts. It has also revealed inherent fragmentation in data collection systems in most low-income countries. Where policy-makers still do not know with confidence how many people die and of what causes.
To address this critical gap, WHO has partnered with global actors to launch Revealing the Toll of COVID-19: Technical Package for Rapid Mortality Surveillance and Epidemic Response. By providing the tools and guidance for rapid mortality surveillance. Countries can collect data on the total number of deaths by day. Week, sex, age, and location, thus enabling health leaders to trigger more timely efforts for improvements to health.
Furthermore, the World Health Organization develops standards. And best practices for data collection, processing. And synthesis through the consolidated and improved International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). A digital platform that facilitates reporting in a timely. And accurate data for causes of death for countries to routinely generate. And use health information that conforms to international standards.
The routine collection and analysis of high-quality data on deaths and causes of death. As well as data on disability, disaggregated by age, sex. And geographic location, is essential for improving health and reducing deaths and disability across the world.
However, if there is anything you think we are missing. Don’t hesitate to inform us by dropping your advice in the comment section.
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