Are 570 000 deaths per year in the EU avoidable?


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In the European Union (EU), 1.7 million persons aged less than 75 died in 2015. Of those, more than 570 000 (or 33.1% of total deaths) could be considered as untimely. In other words, 1 death out of 3 in the EU could have been avoided in the light of medical knowledge and technology.


Heart disease main category

Heart attacks (more than 180 500 avoidable deaths or 32% of total avoidable deaths of persons aged less than 75) accounted by far for the largest share of potentially avoidable deaths in the EU. They were followed by strokes (more than 89 600 deaths, or 16%), colorectal cancers (more than 66 800 or 12%), breast cancers (around 49 900 or 9%), hypertensive diseases (30 400 or 5%) and pneumonia (almost 26 000 or 5%).


Leading causes of avoidable deaths in the EU, 2015


Largest shares of avoidable deaths in Romania, Latvia and Lithuania, lowest in France

The proportions of potentially avoidable deaths through optimal health care vary considerably between EU Member States. The highest shares of avoidable deaths were registered in Romania (48.6%) and Latvia (47.5%), followed by Lithuania (47.0%) and Slovakia (44.2%). On the other hand, the share was below a quarter in France (23.6%) and between 25% and 30% in Belgium (26.0%), Denmark (26.6%), the Netherlands (28.1%), and Poland (29.9%).


Share of avoidable deaths, 2015

The source dataset can be found here.


This information on avoidable deaths through optimal health care (also called. amenable deaths) is complemented by a Eurostat article.

The concept of avoidable death means that certain deaths (for specific age groups and from specific diseases) could have been 'avoided' – that they would not have occurred at this stage if there had been timely and effective health care in place.

The indicator on amenable mortality, or avoidable deaths, should be used in a global context of health system performance assessments. The EU is placing increasing importance on assessing the performance of health care systems. While the amenable mortality indicator is not meant to be a definitive or unique measurement of the quality of health care in the Member States, it provides some indication of the quality and performance of healthcare policies in a country.


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