Continuing decline in mortality from acute heart infarcts

In 2014, the number of deaths from an acute heart infarct dropped by 7 percent to 5.3 thousand in the Netherlands, nearly 400 fewer than in 2013. This decline is more or less equal to previous years. The most common cause in 2014 was dementia with 12.5 thousand deaths. Death from dementia ranks higher than lung cancer or heart infarcts. Nearly 70 percent of deaths from dementia were female, as indicated by Statistics Netherlands.

5.3 Thousand deaths from acute heart infarcts

In 2014,  2.9 thousand men and 2.4 thousand women died from an acute heart infarct, in total 400 fewer than one year previously. These numbers have been declining steadily since the 1970s. Explanations for this decline include better prevention (fewer smokers, more awareness of high cholesterol), better organised health care (Coronary Care Units or CCUs in hospitals) and progress made in related treatments (dotter operations, stents and medicine), thus enabling people to survive an acute heart infarct; these people eventually die from other causes.

Mortality acute myocardial infarction, 1970-2014*

Cancer most common cause of death

Total mortality in the Netherlands in 2014 was slightly over 139 thousand. Almost one third (43 thousand deaths) was linked to a form of cancer. Cardiovascular diseases (including heart infarcts and brain haemorrhages) accounted for over a quarter (38 thousand) of total mortality. Around 17 thousand people died from psychiatric disorders, mainly dementia, as well as nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis (MS). These deaths generally occur after abstaining from food or drink, choking or infections. In 2014, 10 thousand lives ended due to respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia or COPD. This number is down from a year earlier partly due to the absence of a flu epidemic in the spring of 2014, as this would generally affect many people with respiratory illnesses. 

Groups causes of death in total mortality by gender, 2014*

Men more likely to die of cancer than women

Over 23 thousand men and close to 20 thousand women in the Netherlands died of cancer in 2014. The most common forms of cancer in men are lung cancer (6,170 deaths), colon cancer (including rectal cancer, 2,677 cases) and prostate cancer (2,539 deaths). In women most cases were lung cancer (4,176), breast cancer (3,014) and colon cancer (including rectal cancer, 2,270).

Cancer as cause of death in men, 2014*

Cancer as cause of death in women, 2014*

Suicide a common cause of death in young people 

Deaths in the younger age group are generally linked to other causes than in older age groups. Of the 766 young people between the ages of 1 and 24 who died last year, the majority were non-natural deaths including traffic deaths and suicide. The MH17 plane crash disaster contributed significantly to the sharp increase in traffic deaths for this age group last year compared to previous years. Most cancer-related deaths in this age group are caused by brain tumours. As for people aged 25 to 44, a common cause of death was suicide, as in previous years.

Among people aged 45 to 64, cancer accounts for half of the total mortality rate. Although cancer is less prevalent as a death cause in the older age group (65 to 85),  the absolute number of cancer-related deaths is significantly higher in that group. The second most common cause for elderly is cardiovascular disease. Death related to traffic accidents rarely features in this age group. As for ages 85 and up, cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death.

Mortality by cause of death and age (n=number), 2014*