The Most Common Ways People Die Too Young Around the World

April 8th 2016

Taylor Bell

Everyone dies someday, but a map created by Vox using data from the Global Burden of Disease study and The Lancet suggests that how you die can be greatly influenced by the country you live in.

Vox infographic

First, Vox looked at the leading "cause of lost years of life" in each country. What is that exactly? It's whatever causes the highest number of premature deaths in the nation. Unlike the "cause of death," the "cause of lost years of life" measures the potential number of years a person could have lived given a country's standard life expectancy.

Based on this, the map tells us some really interesting things about what life is like in different countries.

The United States/Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one actual cause of death in the U.S., and 27.6 million adults suffer from the cardiovascular disease. Moreover, at age 45, the lifetime heart disease risk is 60.3 percent for men and 55.6 percent for women according to a report by TIME.

This is not surprising considering that nearly half of Americans have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or smoke, which are all things that can put you at risk for developing heart disease.

Saudi Arabia/Road Injuries

King Fahd Road in Saudi Arabia

Recently, the World Health Organization ranked Saudi Arabia as the 23rd country in the world with the highest number of road deaths. On average, car accidents claim 17 lives each day in Saudi Arabia, and one crash occurs every second according to Gulf News.

This is mostly due to the lack of government enforced laws on highways in the Arabic kingdom. "WHO attributed the deaths to the absence of laws regulating driving behavior, as well as the high speed limits in these countries, in addition to the lack of good road planning," according to ArabNews.

Democratic Republic of Congo/Diarrhea

Refugees in Democratic Republic of Congo

Even though the Democratic Republic of Congo is one percent of the world's population, the country plagued by conflict has the "third highest diarrheal morbidity among children under 5." In addition, an estimated 13 percent of child deaths are diarrhea-related, and approximately 60,450 deaths were due to diarrhea in 2010, according to a Princeton study.

Diarrheal diseases are often a problem in poor places that have no access to clean water and sanitation. After years of war, the Congo's water infrastructure and services are in a serious state of deterioration. As a result, approximately 75 percent of the country does not have access to safe drinking water.

Nicaragua/Birth Defects

The amount of birth rate defects in Nicaragua is five times higher than that of the U.S. In America, only 3 percent of babies are born with a birth defect.

The high number of of birth defects in Nicaragua may be due to the low number of people who have health insurance. In Nicaragua only 6.3 percent of the population are insured, compared to nearly 90 percent of people in the U.S. In addition, 55 percent of mothers in rural areas give birth at home, while 65 percent of mothers are illiterate, according to Foundation for Sustainable Development.


In a population of 1.6 billion people, the annual stroke mortality rate is 1.6 million people. Moreover, China has 2.5 million stroke cases a year and 7.5 million stroke survivors according to a journal from the American Heart Association.

It is important to note that across the different regions in China the percentage of strokes fluctuate. However, the overall high percentage of strokes in China may be due to the salt intake in the Chinese diet, according to EverydayHealth. Higher consumption of salt puts you at risk for developing hypertension, which can possibly lead to a stroke.