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 in 2014. Their importance as a cause of death has decreased, however, over the past twenty years from 46 to 37 per cent. Simultaneously, men's and women's age-standardised mortality from diseases of the circulatory system has declined by over 40 per cent (Appendix figure 4).

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 every fifth death and over 10,000 persons died of it in 2014. Slightly over one-half of them were men. Persons dying of this disease are older than before. In 1971, nearly four out of ten persons that died of ischaemic heart disease were of working-age, while in 2014 only one in ten was of working-age. The median average age for those dying of ischaemic heart disease in 1971 was for men 65 years and for women 73 years, while the corresponding figures in 2014 were 78 and 87 years.

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. Then 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. In 2014, ischaemic heart disease mortality decreased further for both men and women.

Of the main cause of death categories, second most Finns died of neoplasms. In 2014, they caused nearly 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, that is, six per cent (Appendix figure 5). The most common type of cancer resulting in death was still lung cancer for men and breast cancer for women. In 2014, a total of 1,400 men and 800 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 2014

Figure 2. Age-standardised mortality from ischaemic heart disease in 1971 to 2014

Figure 3. Age-standardised carcinoma of larynx, trachea and lung 1971 to 2014

Figure 3. Age-standardised carcinoma of larynx, trachea and lung 1971 to 2014

The most common type of cancer causing death among women is breast cancer. In 2014, the number of deaths from breast cancer among women totalled 813, that is, 29 deaths per 100,000 women. One in three of those dying of breast cancer was aged under 65. Nearly as many working-age women died from breast cancer as from alcohol-related causes. The total number of those dying from breast cancer has varied by year and in 2014, the number was on level with ten years earlier. Age-standardised breast cancer mortality has remained more or less unchanged since the 1970s, but the age-standardised figures of recent years indicate that breast cancer mortality is falling, however (Figure 4).

After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer resulting in death. In 2014, altogether 859 men died from prostate cancer, which was slightly more than women dying 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 2014

Figure 4. Age-standardised prostate cancer mortality for men and breast cancer mortality for women 1971 to 2014

Source: Causes of death, Statistics Finland

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

Director in charge: Jari Tarkoma


Updated 30.12.2015

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Causes of death [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-5078. 2014, 2. Ischaemic heart disease still the cause of one in five deaths . Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 22.10.2019].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/ksyyt/2014/ksyyt_2014_2015-12-30_kat_002_en.html