Health Ministry Issues Report on Leading Causes of Death in Israel

“And to this people you shall say: Thus said Hashem: I set before you the way of life and the way of death.” Jeremiah 21:8 (The Israel Bible™)

Israel is a good place to live, and when it comes to deaths, its mortality rates are, on average, declining and lower than many other developed countries. 

Although the leading cause of death – because of the high rate of obesity – in the US is cardiovascular disease, in Israel, cancer kills more residents than any other cause. Fortunately, over the past decade, there has been a declining death rate for most causes, especially heart disease, murder, accidents, cerebrovascular disease, kidney disease, suicide and complications of diabetes.

The Health Ministry has just published “The Leading Causes of Death 2000-2016” (the report is not updated to the end of 2018 because of the time it takes to collect data). The report compares present trends by causes of death, age and gender to figures in Europe, the US and Canada. 

The standardized death rate for men and women in Israel is lower than in Canada, the US and most European countries. In 2015, Israel had the fourth-lowest death rate in men out of 25 OECD countries. 

Only Canada, Luxembourg and Switzerland ranked lower in death rates of men, while rates among Israeli women were eighth-lowest among 25 developed countries, with only France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Luxembourg and Canada having lower rates. 

The statistical report prepared by the ministry’s Medical Technologies, Information and Research Department found that cancers continue to be the leading causes of death for men and women. On average, cancer was the first cause of death among women aged 15 to 74 and among men aged 25 and over between 2014 and 2016. A quarter of all deaths in Israel result from malignancies. 

Since 1999, heart disease has been the number-two cause of death in men and women, reflecting improved care of cardiovascular disease patients, a lower smoking rate than 20 years ago and improved prevention and lifestyles. On average in 2014-2016, heart disease was the first cause for women aged 75 and over and the second cause for women aged 45 to 74 and men aged 45 and over. In 2016, heart disease accounted for 15% of all deaths. 

On average in 2014-2016, cerebrovascular disease (stroke) was the third cause of death for women, slightly higher in patients with compications of diabetes. Among men, the rankings are reversed; diabetes ranks third, and strokes fourth. 

On average in 2014-2016, accidents were the leading cause of death among male teens and young men aged 15 to 24 and second among female teens and young women aged 15 to 24, and third between the ages from birth to 14 years and between ages 25 to 44 in both men and women. 

On average in 2014-2016, suicide was the second-most-common cause of death among teenage males aged 15 to 44 and women aged 25 to 44, and the third among teenage females and young women aged 15 to 24. 

In recent years, incidents before and just after birth and birth defects have been the leading causes of death up to the age of four, followed by accidents, which together account for about three-quarters of all deaths among in that age group. 

However, with the aging of the Israeli population, the rates of death from dementia, sepsis (a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs). and Alzheimer’s disease increased in both men and women. 

The standardized age-related death rate in Israel is lower compared to the US, Canada and most European countries from cancer, heart disease, liver disease, Alzheimer’s, accidents and suicide, as well as cerebrovascular disease compared to most European countries. 

However, compared to the average in 15 OECD countries, the Israeli rate of death from sepsis is 4.5 times higher, kidney disease 2.7 times higher, diabetes complications 2.5 times higher and hypertension 1.9 times higher.