Heart disease and cancer still biggest causes of death

Three-fifths of deaths in 2017 were over 80-year-olds. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Cardiovascular disease and cancer were the two most widespread causes of death in Switzerland in 2017, new statistics have shown.

This content was published on December 16, 2019 - 11:47

Of the 66,971 people who died in the country that year, 31.4% were victims of heart diseases, while 25.8% succumbed to cancer. Other significant causes included dementia (9.8%) and respiratory diseases (6.9%); accidents and suicides accounted for about 5% each.

Causes varied widely across age groups, the Federal Statistical OfficeExternal link wrote on Monday.

In the over-80s group, which represented three-fifths of all deaths recorded in 2017, the biggest cause was cardiovascular. Among 40-80-year-olds, cancer was highest, while between 16 and 18 the biggest risks are suicide or accidents.

Overall deaths slightly increased in 2017, the stats office said, by 3%. This is somewhat in line with recent annual increases, which are in turn affected by the fact that the Swiss population is aging. The office also pointed to the “flu wave” of early 2017 that led to the deaths of some 1,500 over-65 year olds in the space of just six weeks.

Life expectancy in 2017 was 81.4 for men and 85.4 for women: practically unchanged from 2016, but an increase of respectively two years and 1.2 years on a decade before.

Suicides meanwhile slightly increased: 773 men and 270 women took their own life, 26 more than in 2016. Women were more inclined to take the assisted suicide option; 596 of them did so, along with 413 men.

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