Leading Cause of Death in Chennai is not Cancer?

Cause for death in Chennai - year 2016 -17

The crude death rate of Chennai is about 9 per 1000. Which means that every year in a population of 1000, 9 people die due to various reasons. 

Hearth attack contributes to 47% of the total death cases reported. This is an astounding number. Diabetes related complication contributes to about 6.12%. Respiratory failure contributes to about 5.97% of the total death cases. Cancer contributes to 4.12% of the death cases. 

The below table gives you a the recorded causes of death in the city. What is surprising is the disproportionate number of death caused due to heart attacks!

Sl.No.Name of the Causes for DeathNo. of the Death
2Accidental Burns874
3Accidental Poisoning &Other Than Food Poisoning5
6Bites or strings of animals insects etc.,15
7Bronchitis Asthma195
9Chronic Liver Diseases1154
12Falls / Drowing102
13Food Poisoning5
14Heart Diseases and Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)27372
17Accident Road Traffic Accident225
19Maternal Death0
21Other Accidents not elsewhere classified1645
23Others not elsewhere classified2800
26Prematurity Birth364
30Swine Flu3
31Syphilis and other Genito Urinary Diseases1
33Traffic Accident827
36Accident Air Accident2
37Accident Train Traffic Accident106
39Auto Immunine0
40Multi Organ Failure401
41Kidney - Nephritis49
42Kidney Other Kidney Kisorder449
43Kidney Reneal Failure323
44Drowning / Water Accident52
45Respiratory Failure3495

Top 9 Causes of death in Chennai

  1. Heart Diseases and Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)
  2. Senility
  3. Diabeties Melhitus
  4. Respiratory Failure
  5. Cancer
  6. Chronic Liver Diseases
  7. Pneumonia
  8. Accidental Burns
  9. Suicide

Variation between Recorded Death and Verbal Autopsy

Though this is completely a different line of approach to the death rate numbers mentioned above, based on the study conducted by Vendhan Gajalakshmi and Richard Peto published in Bio Med Central (Go to Report) there is about a 50% difference between the recorded death cause and the verbal autopsy during the reported period. 

Causes of death (ICD9 codes)Cause of death in VSD Cause of death based on Verbal Autopsy 
M (%)F (%)M (%)F (%)
Vascular disease (390–415, 418–459)8319 (30)5168 (25)11056 (41)7435 (37)
Respiratory tuberculosis (TB) (011, 012, 018)1399 (5)372 (2)2231 (8)575 (3)
Other respiratory diseases (416, 417, 460–519)1088 (4)596 (3)1597 (6)855 (4)
Neoplasm (140–239)1163 (4)1002 (5)2344 (9)1999 (10)
Infection except respiratory & TB (rest of 1–139, 279.8 [HIV], 320-6, 590, 680-6)584 (2)303 (2)1034 (4)618 (3)
Unspecified medical causes (780-9, 797-9)12291 (44)115 11 (56)4367 (16)5889 (29)
Other specified medical causes1899 (7)1045 (5)4414 (16)2804 (14)
No cause given in VSD (hence probably medical)983 (4)634 (3)NilNil
Total deaths – medical27 72620 63127 04320 175
Re-assigned by VA to external causes*Excluded from the study683456
Total deaths (medical causes+external causes)27 72620 63127 72620 631

Chennai vs National Rates

The death rates due to Heart attacks is marginally lesser. It must also be mentioned that the number of deaths due to Diarrhea is significantly lesser compared to national average.  

In any case the the number of the deaths due to cardio vascular diseases, is way higher. Administrations needs to start creating a city where more walking and cycling activities are promoted. Increasing the number of urban spaces to increase physical activity is the need of the hour.