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Top 15 Leading Causes of Deaths in 2020


The year 2020 forced us all to confront the nature of mortality. Most of us had suffered a loss. There’s been a shift in mortality trends due to COVID-19. Yet, heart diseases are still the number one cause of death worldwide.  

Top 15 Causes of Death  

Here is our list on the top causes of death globally in the year 2020. 

1. Ischemic Heart Disease

Cardiovascular diseases cause more deaths worldwide than any other disease. It results in 18 million deaths globally each year. 32% of all deaths globally have been caused by heart diseases. 

One-third of these deaths happen in underdeveloped and developing countries. 

In the United States alone. 655,000 deaths are caused each year by cardiovascular disease, which means one in every four deaths.

2. Stroke

Every year, about 15 million people suffer a stroke. One-third of them die and another one-third suffer a permanent disability due to stroke. People over 40 who have hypertension are at a greater risk of having a stroke.

To recognize the signs of stroke, remember BEFAST. Here’s what it means.

  • B stands for balance. Check whether the person has any difficulty balancing.
  • E stands for eyesight. People suffering from a stroke may have a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes.
  • F stands for Face. Check whether their face looks uneven or lopsided.
  • A stands for arms. See if their arm can be bent and moved normally or not.
  • S stands for speech. A loss of speech is common when someone is having a stroke.
  • T stands for time. If there are any signs of these symptoms, take no time to call an ambulance.

3. Septicemia

Sepsis kills more people than you’d expect. Annually, about 11 million people die each year due to sepsis. Many of them are children. Fever, shivering, breathing difficulty, weak pulse, mottled skin, low urine output are some of the symptoms associated with sepsis. 

4. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD is several lung conditions that cause difficulty in breathing. 

In the US, every four minutes a death is caused by COPD. This adds up to more than 15,000 deaths each year.

Worldwide, about 3 million deaths are caused each year by COPD. Some of the common causes of COPD are exposure to tobacco, dust and, fumes, air pollution, a genetic condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, asthma, etc.

5. COVID-19

COVID-19 has completely disrupted the world as we knew it. Being one of the most contagious diseases the world has ever seen, it brought the whole world to a standstill.

In 2020, there were an estimated 81.5 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide. According to worldometer, by December 31, 2020, 1,935,414  deaths had been caused by the novel coronavirus worldwide. 

About 3,358,814 of these deaths happened in the United States. 

6. Accidental Injuries

Accidental injuries include drug overdoses, unintentional falls, unintentional poisoning, motor vehicle traffic deaths, and other causes of death.

About 173,040 deaths out of every 100,000 deaths are accidents or unintentional injuries. An estimated, 1.3 million people die each year, just from traffic accidents. Most of these deaths, about 96 percent, occur in underdeveloped or developing regions. 

7. Trachea, Bronchus, Lung Cancer 

Lung cancer is the deadliest form of cancer in the world. In 2020, there were about 2.21 million reported cases of lung cancer. Out of these 2.21 million people, 1.8 million died. 

The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking, including passive smoking. But that doesn’t mean people who aren’t exposed to cigarette smoke can’t develop lung cancer.

Being exposed to carcinogenic gases or lung cancer-causing genes are also causes of lung cancer. 

8. Neonatal Conditions

Conditions that occur within 28 days of birth are classified as neonatal. More than 2 million children die every year within a month of their birth. About 1 million babies die within 24 hours of birth each year.

Lack of professional care during childbirth causes most of these deaths. 

9. Diabetes

The number of diabetes cases globally are on the rise. About 1.6 million deaths are linked to diabetes directly. Worldwide, about 422 million people are living with diabetes. 

Obesity, hypertension, sedentary lifestyle, family history are among the top causes of diabetes. 

10. Alzheimer’s disease And Other Dementias

Alzheimer’s disease is the most widespread form of dementia in the world. An estimated 6.2 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. Due to COVID-19, Alzheimer’s related death in the US has risen by 16 percent.

About 1.5 million people lose their lives to dementia each year globally. 

11. Colon And Rectum Cancer

In 2020, about 53,200 deaths were caused in the US due to colon and rectum cancer. The second-highest number of cancer deaths is caused by this type of cancer. 

Worldwide, colon and rectum cancer claimed 935,000 lives in the year 2020. Routine colonoscopy can bring the death toll down by catching cancer at an early stage. 

12. Kidney Disease

Over 1 million deaths are caused by renal diseases each year worldwide. Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, abnormal kidney structure, smoking are among the most common causes of kidney diseases. 

13. Suicide

Every 40 seconds, one person in the world commits suicide. This results in more than 700,000 deaths annually worldwide. People living in low to mid-income countries are more at risk of committing suicide.  

14. Influenza And Pneumonia

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death among children under the age of five. Every year, about 650,000 people die globally due to diseases caused by influenza.

Other than young children, people over the age of 65, pregnant women, Native Americans, people with a compromised immune system are at a higher risk of having complications from the flu. 

15. Diarrheal Diseases

Diarrhea, although completely treatable, causes 525,000 children under the age of five to die each year. It is the second most common cause of death among children that age. In undeveloped countries, infections and malnutrition cause diarrhea in children. 


Some of these causes of death on our list may come as a surprise to you. Many curable diseases are causing innumerable deaths each year because of a lack of proper healthcare facilities. 


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