What do most Greeks die from?

Greek Statistical Bureau Hellenic Statistics (ELSTAT) published a new report on the causes of death of citizens registered in the country.

The data is derived from death certificates submitted in 2019 by physicians and, in cases of violent or sudden death, by forensic services. The first key element is that deaths increased by 3.9% in 2019 to 124,954. The main causes were diseases of the circulatory system (35.4%), followed by neoplasms (cancer) at 24.5%.

The main oncological diseases from which citizens died:

  • malignant neoplasms of the trachea, bronchi and lungs,
  • cancer of the colon and rectum,
  • mammary cancer.

Key findings on fatalities from the ELSTAT report:

• Mortality in 2019 increased by 3.9% to 124,954 (63,079 men and 61,875 women) compared to 120,291 (61,382 men and 58,909 women) in 2018.

• The leading causes of death in 2019 were diseases of the circulatory system, with 44,234 deaths. This is followed by deaths from neoplasms, which amounted to 30,637 people, and 13,591 people died from respiratory diseases.

• Compared with previous years, the proportion of deaths from diseases of the circulatory system in total mortality increased from 10.0% in 1938 (the first year for which data are available) to 25.0% in 1956 (the first post-war year for which data are available) and by 35.4% in 2019. Accordingly, the mortality rate from tumor diseases increased from 4.1% in 1938 to 11.7% in 1956 and to 24.5% in 2019.

• Mortality from infectious and parasitic diseases has decreased from 18.4% of deaths in 1938 to 3.4% in 2019. It is worth noting that for comparability of data over time, changes in the use of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases should be taken into account.

• The number of suicide deaths reported by forensic authorities was 530 in 2019, compared to 567 in 2018 (a decrease of 6.5%). It is noted that possible deviations from the data of other bodies may be associated with different methodology or other factors, such as the need for forensic medical examination bodies to conduct long periods of investigation into the circumstances of death, deaths as a result of late suicide attempts, etc.

According to ELSTAT, the above cases do not include the deaths of refugees/immigrants who died while crossing the border before being registered in Chora, or who drowned in Greek territorial waters. These reported deaths per year were 302 in 2015, 164 in 2016, 27 in 2017, 72 in 2018 and 62 in 2019.


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