2. Ischaemic heart disease still the cause of one in five deaths

Of the main cause of death categories, most Finns died of diseases of the circulatory system. The importance of diseases of the circulatory system as a cause of death has decreased, however, over the past twenty years from 47 to 38 per cent. Simultaneously, men's and women's mortality from diseases of the circulatory system has declined by over 40 per cent.

Among diseases of the circulatory system, ischaemic heart disease is still one of the most common causes of death for Finns, even though mortality from ischaemic heart disease has decreased considerably in Finland. Ischaemic heart disease still caused more than every fifth death. In 2013, more than 10,000 persons died from ischaemic heart disease. Slightly over one-half of them were men. Persons dying of this disease have become older than before. In 1970, four out of ten persons that died of ischaemic heart disease were of working-age, while in 2013 only one in ten was of working-age.

Figure 2 shows ischaemic heart disease mortality age-standardised. In age standardisation, the effect of the age structure of the population and its changes are eliminated. Here it is seen in which level mortality from ischaemic heart disease would be if the age structure of the population remained unchanged during the whole reference period. The new standard population of Eurostat is used as the standard population in age-standardisation. When the ageing of the population is eliminated from the figures by age standardisation, it can be seen that ischaemic heart disease mortality has fallen evenly over the last 40 years. Ischaemic heart disease mortality decreased further in 2013 for both men and women.

Of the main cause of death categories, second most Finns died of neoplasms. In 2013, they caused one in four deaths. Over the past ten years, age-standardised neoplasm mortality has decreased by over ten per cent for men and slightly less for women (7%). The most common type of cancer resulting in death was still lung cancer for men and breast cancer for women. In 2013, a total of 1,500 men and 700 women died from carcinoma of the larynx, carcinoma of the tracheitis and lung cancer. Among men, lung cancer mortality has decreased since the beginning of the 1980s. Women's lung cancer mortality has, however, been growing slowly over the past ten years (Figure 3).

Figure 2. Age-standardised mortality from ischaemic heart disease in 1971 to 2013

Figure 2. Age-standardised mortality from ischaemic heart disease in 1971 to 2013

Figure 3. Age-standardised carcinoma of larynx, trachea and lung 1971 to 2013

Figure 3. Age-standardised carcinoma of larynx, trachea and lung 1971 to 2013

The commonest type of cancer causing death among women is breast cancer. In 2013, the number of deaths from breast cancer totalled 866, that is, 31 deaths per 100,000 women. One in three of the victims was aged under 65. Fewer working-age women died from breast cancer than from alcohol-related causes. Breast cancer mortality has grown slightly in the past few decades but age-standardised breast cancer mortality has remained almost unchanged since the 1970s (Figure 4).

After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer resulting in death. In 2013, altogether 853 men died from prostate cancer, which was nearly as many as women who died from breast cancer. Prostate cancer mortality is on level with women's breast cancer mortality, that is, 32 deaths per 100,000 men.

Above all, prostate cancer is a common cause of death for aged men; more than nine out of ten of the deceased were over 65. Men's age-standardised prostate cancer mortality has decreased clearly in the 21st century, even though the numbers of deaths from prostate cancer have been growing since the 1990s.

Figure 4. Age-standardised prostate cancer mortality for men and breast cancer mortality for women 1971 to 2013

Figure 4. Age-standardised prostate cancer mortality for men and breast cancer mortality for women 1971 to 2013

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

Inquiries: Airi Pajunen 029 551 3605, Jari Hellanto 029 551 3291, kuolemansyyt@stat.fi

Director in charge: Riitta Harala


Updated 30.12.2014

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2013, 2. Ischaemic heart disease still the cause of one in five deaths . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 19.10.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2013/ksyyt_2013_2014-12-30_kat_002_en.html