Coronary heart disease and stroke are the two leading causes of death for Homo sapiens on planet Earth, according to a new report from the World Health Organization. This fact has remained unchanged for the past two decades. But this analysis of global deaths over the past 20 years finds significant shifts in how people die — as well as dramatic differences in what leads to death in different regions.
Noncommunicable diseases such as dementia and diabetes are now claiming more lives, while infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis are taking far fewer.
In this year's report, Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia ranked as the seventh-leading cause of death globally. Two decades ago, they ranked as the 20th cause.
Conversely, HIV in the year 2000 was the eighth-leading cause of death and now it's down to No. 19. In fact, the raw number of people dying from HIV and AIDS has been cut in half over the past two decades.
In 2019, a million fewer babies around the world died in their first month of life compared with the year 2000. But rates of lung cancer and pulmonary disease increased over the same time period.