Cause of death figures show an increase in heart attacks, suicides and accidental falls

Cause of death figures show an increase in heart attacks, suicides and accidental falls

Covid, diseases of the circulatory system and unnatural deaths contributed to a record mortality rate in 2021



Friday, 10 February 2023, 13:05


Suicides, accidental falls and homicides, among other unnatural causes of death, have increased in recent years, contributing, together with Covid and illnesses of the circulatory system, to a sad record for the province: 14,724 deaths in Malaga province in 2021, a figure which is higher than ever before.

Provisional figures for the first six months of 2022 show 7,736 deaths in the province, indicating a possible further increase in the annual figures.

Although 2020 is etched in the collective memory as a tragic year because it marked the start of the pandemic, 2021 was even more cruel as there were 550 more deaths than in the previous year (a relative increase of 3.9 per cent) and nearly 2,000 more (15.4 per cent) than in 2019.

Figures recently published by Spain's National Institute of Statistics (INE) give an indication of why the mortality rate shot up in 2021, and it was not down to a single cause but to several. The most evident is Covid, which took the lives of 1,410 people in Malaga province. There were 384 more deaths attributed to the virus than in 2020, an increase of 37.4 per cent. Provisional figures for the first six months of 2022 show 568 deaths attributed to Covid-19 in the province.

Most common cause

Diseases of the circulatory system (for example heart disease) were by far the most frequent cause of death in Malaga, responsible for 4,282 deaths. This was already the most common cause, but the numbers increased by 3.9 per cent in 2021 compared with 2020. The most striking is the increase of 11.7 per cent compared with the year before the pandemic.

Within this large group of pathologies, the increase in deaths from hypertensive illnesses was notable (553 deaths, 14.5 per cent more than in 2020 and 54.5 per cent more than in 2019) as was that of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), accounting for 502 deaths, 10.1 per cent more than in 2020 and 32.4 per cent more than in 2019.

On the other hand, deaths associated with strokes dropped by 4.4 per cent compared with 2020, although this is still the main cause among the circulatory illnesses.

Cancer, the second biggest cause of death, continued its slow but inexorable growth. A total of 3,551 people died of cancer in the province in 2021, which was 2.9 per cent more than in 2020 and 5.4 per cent more than in 2019. There are certain types of tumour (prostate and pancreas) which caused more deaths in 2021, something that some people believe was the result of delays in the illness being diagnosed.

Another consequence of the pandemic, but positive in this case, was the reduction in deaths from respiratory illnesses which were not Covid. This seems to be related to the use of face masks and the reduced spread of respiratory viruses. In that year only two people in the province died from flu, compared with 29 in 2020 and 28 in 2019.

Unnatural causes, from suicide to accidents and murders, took the lives of 536 people in Malaga in 2021, which was 7.4 per cent more than in 2020. The figures support warnings about a silent epidemic of suicides.

Suicides a concern

In 2021, 187 people in the province took their own lives, which was 14.7 per cent more than in 2020 and 53.3 per cent more than in 2019. This tragedy affects nearly three times more men than women. Provisional figures for the first six months of 2022 appear to be more positive with 59 deaths from suicide in Malaga province. However the figure for the same period for the rest of Spain indicates a continuation of the upward trend, with 2,015 deaths by suicide between January and July. In 2021 the national figure was 4,003, a new all-time high, which is the equivalent of 11 suicides every day.

There are other increases in mortality where the cause is more of a mystery. For example: accidental falls. In 2021, there were 130 deaths in the province as a result of these falls, nearly double the figure in the two previous years.

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