Heart disease is no longer the leading cause of death in rich countries, it is now a cancer that could become the world’s biggest killer in just a few decades if current trends continue, scientists have warned.
Publishing the findings of two large studies in the medical journal The Lancet, the scientists said they presented evidence of a new global “epidemiological transition” between different types of chronic diseases.
Cancer now kills twice as many people as heart disease in developed countries
While cardiovascular disease remains, for now, the leading cause of death among middle-aged people worldwide – about 40 percent of all deaths – it is no longer the case in high-income countries where cancer now kills twice as many people as heart disease, studies have shown .
“Our work revealed that cancer was the second most common cause of death in the world in 2017 and that it accounted for 26 percent of all deaths. However, as the rate (of heart disease) continues to fall, cancer could become the leading cause of death worldwide in just a few decades, ”said Jules Dagene, a professor at Laval University in Quebec, Canada.
Of the approximately 55 million deaths in the world in 2017, scientists said, around 17.7 million died from cardiovascular diseases, Hina reports.
Approximately 70 percent of these diseases are caused by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor diet and smoking – factors that can be influenced.
In high-income countries, treatment for high cholesterol and drug pressure has helped reduce the rates of heart disease in recent decades.
Dezene’s team said that their findings suggest that the cause of higher death rates from heart disease in poorer countries could be poorer quality of health care.
Research has shown that rates of first hospitalization and use of heart disease medications are much lower in poorer and middle-income countries than in rich states.
This research is part of an urban and rural epidemiological (PURE) study, published in the Lancet and presented at the ESC Congress in Paris.
Among the countries analyzed were Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, the Philippines, India, Iran, South Africa, Canada, China, Colombia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Tanzania, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe.