Heart disease: risk of death in East Germany

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More deaths in eastern Germany than in the rest of the Federal Republic

Coronary artery disease and chronic cardiovascular disease, in the course of which death occurs, will continue to be among the leading causes of death in Germany in 2014. However, the statistics show that the likelihood of dying from this disease of civilization is not the same everywhere.

People from the eastern German states are more affected than their fellow citizens from the western German states. Deaths as a result of cancer are also diagnosed more frequently in eastern Germany than in the rest of the Federal Republic. This emerges from the statistics of the causes of death of the statistical office "Eurostat" from 2012, which has undertaken an analysis of regional death data for the newspaper "Welt".

Old age is one reason for the higher death rate. According to this, the death rate is highest in Saxony-Anhalt. In 2013, there were 1310 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. There were not so many in any other federal state. One reason for this is the aging population, especially in the new federal states. The five federal states with the highest death rates include Saxony, Thuringia and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The Saarland is the only exception. But why are the common diseases of heart disease or cancer more widespread in eastern Germany than in the western German states? The researchers have identified several factors that may be responsible for the higher death rate. After German-German reunification, mortality initially rose in the new federal states, particularly among men. In the early years, overall mortality in the new federal states fell more than in the old.

Current data show that in addition to aging, socio-economic factors such as education and income have also influenced this development. After reunification, more and more young people left the eastern German states. In the weddings of emigration, almost 240,000 people made their way west each year because there were more jobs there. The rural regions were particularly affected by the emigration of young people, and the older people were left behind.

The Federal Statistical Office had determined that in 2012 92 percent of the dead who died as a result of a heart disease were older than 65 years or older. This trend will surely be confirmed in the future due to the age structure in East Germany, because it is the elderly who will die from the consequences of a chronic cardiovascular disease or cancer. Saxony-Anhalt is at the top of the federal states with 609 deaths from 100,000 inhabitants that occurred as a result of heart disease. Then come Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg.

According to the statisticians, Berlin had the lowest mortality rate in the same period, only 345 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and thus the lowest value of all federal states. The death rate is also particularly low in Hamburg, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse. The statistics between Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt show the difference between East and West Germany particularly well. According to the data in Saxony-Anhalt, the likelihood of dying from a heart condition is 76 percent higher than in Berlin. The situation is similar for the second most common cause of death, tumors and cancer. In regional comparison, Saxony-Anhalt also has the highest mortality rate here. In 2010 there were 354 fatal cancer cases per 100,000 inhabitants. People living in Dessau, Halle and Magdeburg are around 50 percent more likely to die of cancer than, for example, in Baden-Württemberg, the state with the lowest cancer death rate. But it's not just the population structure that is responsible for the results. Doctors see further reasons in the local environmental pollution and eating habits of the residents. However, an important factor is the use of preventive examinations, because the earlier a cancer is recognized, the higher the likelihood of surviving with the appropriate therapy. (fr)

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