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What are the top causes of death by age and gender?

ONS looks at leading causes of deaths registered in England and Wales, 2012

Heart disease was the biggest cause of death in 2012, killing over 64,000 people, followed by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease which caused more than 43,000 deaths, and cerebrovascular diseases which were responsible for more than 35,000 deaths. In 2012, 80% of men and 88% of women who died were aged 65 or over. The leading cause of death for men was heart disease (15.6%) and the leading cause for women was dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (11.5%).

Leading causes of death in men, England and Wales, 2012

Rank Leading cause of death No. of men Percentage of men
1 Heart disease 37423 15.60%
2 Lung cancer 16698 7.00%
3 Emphysema/bronchitis 14378 6.00%
4 Stroke  14116 5.90%
5 Dementia and Alzheimer’s 13984 5.80%
6 Flu/pneumonia 11063 4.60%
7 Prostate cancer 9698 4.00%
8 Bowel cancer 7841 3.30%
9 Lymphoid cancer 6301 2.60%
10 Throat cancer 4603 1.90%

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Leading causes of death in women, England and Wales, 2012

Rank Leading cause of death No. of women Percentage of women
1 Dementia and Alzheimer’s 29873 11.50%
2 Heart disease 26741 10.30%
3 Stroke 21730 8.40%
4 Flu/pneumonia 15075 5.80%
5 Emphysema/bronchitis 14155 5.50%
6 Lung cancer 13575 5.20%
7 Breast cancer 10311 4%
8 Bowel cancer 6600 2.50%
9 Urinary disease 5570 2.10%
10 Heart failure 5065 2%

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1 in 1,000 deaths were among children aged 1-4 in 2012

Around 1 in 1,000 deaths in 2012 were among children age 1-4 years old. The leading cause of death at this age was congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities (14% of boys, 16% of girls). These conditions are usually present at birth or develop shortly after, and include congenital heart defects.

These conditions were also the leading cause of death for girls aged between 5 and 19, accounting for 7% of deaths. Brain cancers, lymphoid cancers (including leukaemia) and land transport accidents each accounted for 6% of deaths to 5-19 year old girls, while the leading cause of death for boys of the same age was land transport accidents. Over three-quarters of all road traffic deaths occur among men. Worldwide, males under the age of 25 are almost three times more likely to be killed in a car crash than females of the same age.

Suicide and poisoning leading cause of death for 20-34 year olds

Suicide and injury/poisoning of undetermined intent were the leading cause of death for 20-34 year olds, for 26% of men and 13% of women. Factors that could lead to these deaths include: traumatic experiences, lifestyle choices such as drug or alcohol misuse, job insecurity and relationship problems. 

Breast cancer leading cause of death for 35-49 year old women

Suicide remains the leading cause of death for men up to the age of 49, accounting for 13% of deaths to men aged 35-49. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women in this age group, accounting for 15% of deaths. However, it is the leading cause because women in this age group are relatively healthy and are therefore less likely to die of other causes. Breast cancer deaths in women aged 15-49 years only account for around 10% of all female breast cancer deaths.

Heart disease leading cause of death for men aged 50 and over

For people aged 50 and over, the leading causes of death for both men and women are long-term diseases and conditions. Cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung is the number one cause for women aged 50-64, accounting for 12% of deaths in this group.  Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for 50-64 year old women, accounting for 11% of deaths in this age group.

Heart diseases are the leading cause of death for men aged 50 and over, and for women aged 65 to 79 years, these diseases are usually caused by the build up of fatty deposits on the walls of the arteries around the heart. Lifestyle choices and other conditions can lead to heart disease such as: smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Heart disease was also the second leading cause of death for women over 80. 

Dementia and Alzheimer’s leading cause of death for women over 80

For women over 80, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was the leading cause of death, accounting for 16% of female deaths in that age group and 11.5% of all female deaths in 2012. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was the second leading cause of death for men in this age group. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are increasing as people live longer, with women living longer than men.

Where can I find out more about leading causes of death statistics?

If you’d like to find out more about the latest mortality statistics, please read our latest release. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d like to hear them! Please email us at: vsob@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

Categories: Population, Deaths, Mortality Rates, Death Registrations, Health and Social Care, Health of the Population, Causes of Death
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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