The World Health Organisation has recognised stroke – a non-communicable disease – as the leading cause of death in Bangladesh, followed by ischaemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2019.
Stroke, a medical condition in which poor blood flow to the brain causes cell death, killed 134,166 people in the country last year, and the death rate was 82.3 per 100,000 people, revealed the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Global Health Estimates published on Wednesday.
The estimates also showed that non-communicable diseases made up 7 of the world's top 10 causes of death last year. This is an increase from 4 of the 10 leading causes in 2000. The latest data covers the period from 2000 to 2019.
In Bangladesh, death toll by stroke had increased by 13.7% in 2019, compared to 2015. Stroke had killed 130,655 people in 2010.
Ischaemic heart disease – the second major cause of death in 2019 – killed 108,528 people in 2019, which is 24.6% higher than in 2015. The death rate was 66.6 per 100,000 people. Besides, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease killed 45,699 people in the same period, and the death rate was 28 per 100,000 people.
According to experts, the number of people suffering and dying from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart diseases is increasing in the country, due the change in lifestyle, consumption of junk food, and physical inactivity.
Speaking with the Business Standard, Dr Md Shafiqul Islam, associate professor at the Department of Neurosurgery of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said, "Deaths due to stroke is increasing in Bangladesh because the number of people suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure has gone up too.
"Fast food consumption should be halted. Along with a disciplined lifestyle, high blood pressure and diabetes must be controlled to help prevent stroke."
Meanwhile, cardiologist Dr APM Sohrabuzzaman pointed out, "Fifty percent of the heart diseases can be prevented by stopping the use of tobacco products, controlling the cholesterol, and engaging in regular exercise."
The other major causes of death in Bangladesh last year were – neonatal conditions (45,148), tuberculosis (37,175), diarrhoeal diseases (36,111), lower respiratory infections (29,586), diabetes Mellitus (28,976), road injury (25,023) and
cirrhosis of the liver (21,024).
Ischaemic heart disease, also called coronary heart disease (CHD), is the term given to heart problems caused by narrowed coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. It is the leading cause of death in neighbouring India and Pakistan.
In India, the disease killed 1,520,034 last year, and the death rate was 111.2 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, it killed 240,720 people during the same period, and the death rate reached 111.2 per 100,000 people.
Ischaemic heart disease was also the leading cause of death in Afghanistan (40,195), Bhutan (702), Sri Lanka (26,304), and the Maldives (279) in 2019. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease killed 27,027 people, making it the top cause of death in Nepal last year. The death rate was 94.5 per 100,000 people in that country.
What is the global situation?
Heart disease has remained the leading cause of death at the global level for the last 20 years. However, it is now killing more people than ever before. The number of deaths from heart disease increased by more than 2 million since 2000, to nearly 9 million in 2019.
Heart disease now represents 16% of total deaths from all causes. More than half of the 2 million additional deaths were in the WHO Western Pacific region. Conversely, the European region has seen a relative decline in heart disease, with deaths falling by 15%.
Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are now among the top 10 causes of death worldwide, ranking 3rd in both the Americas and Europe in 2019. Women are disproportionately affected, as globally, 65% of deaths from Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia are women.
Deaths from diabetes increased by 70% globally between 2000 and 2019, with an 80% rise in deaths among males. In the Eastern Mediterranean, deaths from diabetes have more than doubled and represent the greatest percentage increase of all WHO regions.
In 2019, pneumonia and other lower respiratory infections were the deadliest group of communicable diseases, and together ranked as the fourth leading cause of death. However, compared to 2000, lower respiratory infections were claiming fewer lives than in the past, with the global number of deaths decreasing by nearly half a million.
This reduction is in line with a general global decline in the percentage of deaths caused by communicable diseases.