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Clinical Articles, News & Views

Cancer overtakes cardiovascular disease as top killer for men

Cancer has overtaken cardiovascular disease as the greatest cause of death in the UK – but only among men – according to research published recently in Heart.1

The results indicate that approximately 2.3 million people were living with some form of coronary heart disease in 2012. Around half a million were living with heart failure and a further 1.1 million were living with atrial fibrillation.

For the first time since the middle of the 20th century, cancer overtook cardiovascular disease as the primary cause of death in 2012, with 29% of deaths attributed to it compared to 28% for cardiovascular disease. It was found that cardiovascular disease still killed more women than cancer, however. 27% of deaths in women were caused by cancer compared with 28% for cardiovascular disease.

In an accompanying editorial,2 Dr Adam Timmis, (Barts and The London NHS Trust, London) describes the drop in cardiovascular disease death rates since 1960 as “among the greatest public health triumphs in the past 50 years.”

The report provides a timely reminder that cardiovascular disease kills more women than breast cancer, Dr Timmis adds, pointing out that “most of these deaths in young women are caused by myocardial infarction which is largely preventable through modification of risk factors…if the national effort put into the detection of breast cancer could be matched in protecting young women against myocardial infarction many more lives would probably be saved.”


1. Bhatnagar P, Wickramasinghe K, Williams J, Rayner M, Townsend N. The epidemiology of cardiovascular disease in the UK 2014. Heart 2015.

2. Timmis A. Cardiovascular mortality in the UK: good news if you live in the South. Heart 2015.

Published on: June 26, 2015

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  • ArrhythmiaAlliance
  • Stars
  • Anticoagulation Europe
  • Atrial Fibrillation Association

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