Mortality of older people in Latin America, India and China: Causes and prevention

February 28, 2012

Stroke is the leading cause of death in people over 65 in low- and middle-income countries, according to new research published this week. Deaths of people over 65 represent more than a third of all deaths in developing countries yet, until now, little research has focused on this group. The study was led by researchers King's College London and is published in PLoS Medicine. The study also finds that education and social protection are as important in prolonging people's lives as economic development.

Professor Martin Prince, who led the study from the 10/66 Dementia Research Group at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's says: 'Chronic diseases are rapidly replacing as the leading cause of mortality and disability in . Since stroke is the leading cause of death in older people, and education is a strong protective factor, prevention may be possible, adding years to life and life to years.

Professor Prince, who is also co-director of London's Centre for Global Mental Health (CGMH), adds: 'The current chronic disease agenda is largely focused on reducing mortality among working age adults. The concept of 'premature mortality' applied in such cases, is essentially ageist. I hope our findings will help highlight the lack of information about end of life among in developing countries, both regarding potential for prevention, and support and care of the dying, who, in the poorest settings, may not receive timely or effective .'

In 2005, deaths of people aged 60 and over accounted 61 percent of all deaths in middle-income countries, and 33 percent in low-income countries, compared to 84 percent in high-income countries, yet there has been little research into the causes and determinants of these deaths.

Researchers surveyed 12,373 people aged 65 and over between 2003 and 2005 in a total of 10 urban and rural sites in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, China and India, documenting over 2,000 deaths over a three to five year follow-up period.

– particularly stroke, heart disease and diabetes – were the leading causes of death in all sites other than rural Peru. Overall, stroke was the most common cause of death (21.4 percent), ranking first in all sites other than rural Peru and rural Mexico. The authors found that education, more than occupational status and wealth in late-life, had a strong effect in reducing mortality risk in later life.

Most deaths occurred at home, with a particularly high proportion in rural China (91 percent), India (86 percent), and rural Mexico (65 percent). Other than in India, most received medical care for their final illness, but this was usually at home rather than in the hospital or clinic.

Explore further: Poor countries have disproportionately higher burden of disease from stroke than from heart disease

More information: Ferri CP, Acosta D, Guerra M, Huang Y, Llibre-Rodriguez JJ, et al. (2012) Socioeconomic Factors and All Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality among Older People in Latin America, India, and China: A Population-Based Cohort Study. PLoS Med 9(2): e1001179. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001179

Related Stories

Poor countries have disproportionately higher burden of disease from stroke than from heart disease

July 5, 2011
Countries with lower national income have disproportionately higher rates of death and disability associated with stroke compared with ischemic heart disease, according to a study published in Circulation: Journal of the ...

Heart disease and stroke tied to national income

July 8, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- An analysis of heart disease and stroke statistics collected in 192 countries by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the relative burden of the two diseases varies widely from country to country ...

Mild cognitive impairment is associated with disability and neuropsychiatric symptoms

February 7, 2012
In low- and middle-income countries, mild cognitive impairment—an intermediate state between normal signs of cognitive aging, such as becoming increasingly forgetful, and dementia, which may or may not progress—is ...

Affordable cancer treatments available

October 31, 2011
More than 2.4 million cancer deaths could be avoided each year in developing countries using prevention and treatment interventions that are affordable and that could be made widely available, according to a new report. And ...

Recommended for you

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

Exercising and eating well are greater contributors to health than standing at work

November 21, 2017
By now you've probably heard the edict from the health community: Sitting is the new smoking. Perhaps you've converted to a standing desk, or maybe you have a reminder on your phone to get up once an hour and walk around ...

Motorcycle crashes cause five times as many deaths as car accidents, six times the health costs

November 20, 2017
Motorcycle accidents are costly in terms of lives and health care costs. Compared with car accidents, motorcycle accidents cause 3 times the injuries, 6 times the medical costs and 5 times the deaths, found new research in ...

Dog ownership linked to lower mortality

November 17, 2017
A team of Swedish scientists have used national registries of more than 3.4 million Swedes aged 40 to 80 to study the association between dog ownership and cardiovascular health. Their study shows that dog owners had a lower ...

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.