In 12 European countries, cancer has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death among men. The same switch occurred for women in two of these countries. However, disparities remain. Overall, in the 53 countries included in the study, cancer caused fewer than half the number of deaths caused by heart disease.
The highest number of deaths from heart disease tended to be seen in Eastern European countries. Countries not part of the European Union (EU) had higher rates of death from heart disease than member states.
Disparities also exist in premature deaths (before age 75), according to the study. In countries that joined the EU before 2005, 21% of premature deaths could be attributed to heart disease, compared to 36% in non-EU members.
Worldwide, more people continue to die from heart disease than from any other cause. In Canada, cancer became the leading cause of death in every province for the first time in 2011. Heart disease remains the leading cause in the United States.
- Read the study in the European Heart Journal