Heart attacks, strokes, cancer: main causes of deaths in the EU

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In 2017, cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of death in all EU member states, with the exception of Denmark, Ireland, France (2016 data) and the Netherlands, where cancer was the leading cause of death.

Among the EU member states, the highest proportion of deaths from diseases of the cardiovascular system was observed in Bulgaria (66%), the lowest in Denmark (23%), while the largest number of cancer patients was recorded in Slovenia (32%), the lowest proportion in Bulgaria (16%).

Diseases of the cardiovascular system and cancer together are the main causes of death in Europe – for example, 52% of all deaths in France and 82% in Bulgaria were associated with these diseases (data for 2016).

In the third place in terms of the number of deaths in most EU member states are diseases of the respiratory system – the highest mortality rate was recorded in Bulgaria, the lowest in France.

To make a reliable comparison between countries, it is necessary to adjust the absolute number of deaths in different countries for the size and structure of the population – the highest death rate in the EU in 2017 was in Bulgaria – 1,631 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. This is followed by Romania (1,488), Latvia (1,485), Hungary (1,470) and Lithuania (1,418).

The lowest mortality rate among EU member states was recorded in France – 838 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants (data for 2016) and Spain (844), followed by Italy (875), Luxembourg (911), Sweden (916) and Malta (927).