Twenty four risk factors responsible for nearly half of annual deaths, says WHO

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 28 October 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4439
  1. John Zarocostas
  1. 1Geneva

    Twenty four risk factors are responsible for 44% of the estimated 60 million global deaths that occur each year and cause 34% of the loss of healthy life years worldwide, says a World Health Organization report.

    The five leading global risks for mortality are high blood pressure, which is responsible for 12.8% of all deaths globally; tobacco use (8.7%); high blood glucose (5.8%); physical inactivity (5.5%), and overweight and obesity (5%), it says.

    Other key global risk factors among the top 10 causes of death include high cholesterol (4.5%), unsafe sex (4%), alcohol use (3.8%), childhood underweight (3.8%), and indoor smoke from solid fuels (3.3%).

    The report concludes that these leading risks are responsible for raising the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancers.

    For instance, 57% of cardiovascular deaths, it says, can be traced back to three risk factors—high blood pressure, high body mass index, and physical inactivity.

    Similarly, it says that raised blood pressure changes the structure of arteries and increases …

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