Cardiovascular disease and cancer, all the numbers on the causes of death in Varese Province

The epidemiological report by the Insubria Health Protection Agency analyses all of the 13,556 deaths in 2016 in the territories of the provinces of Varese and Como.

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Also for the year 2016, the main cause of death was diseases affecting the cardiovascular system, which accounted for no fewer than 4628 deaths throughout Insubria.

The numbers have been taken from the epidemiological report, that the Insubria Health Protection Agency produces, analysing all the deaths that occurred. 

The data, which is the most recent available, was published in the report at the end of 2017, and refer to 2016. It relates to all deaths that occurred in the Insubria HPA area, that is, the Varese Lakes districts (the north of Varese Province), the Olona Valley (the south of Varese Province) and the Lario area (Como Province).

Overall, 13,556 people died (-5.0% compared to the 14,264 in 2015). Of the deaths that occurred, 47.9% were of males, and 52.1% of females. The data was provided directly by the municipal registry offices. The males saw a peak in the 75-84 year group, and the females, in the over 84. This latter group accounted for 56.5% of the deaths among women, and 32.9% of those among men.

Deaths in 2016 in the ATS Insubria districts

4629: Seven Lakes (the north of Varese Province)

3964: Valle Olona (the south of Varese Province)

4963: Lariano (Como area)

13.556: Total of Insubria HPA

And now we come to the principal causes of death throughout the territory. As mentioned, cardiovascular diseases were the main cause, with 34.1%, slightly higher than cancers, with 30.9%. With respect to 2015, there was a decrease in deaths from all causes, bearing in mind that, in 2015, there was an overall increase in deaths of about 8% compared to 2014. Here are all the deaths, broken down by cause.

Deaths in 2016: the causes of death

Varese Lakes district – Valle Olona district – Lariano district














Here are the analyses contained in the Insubria HPA epidemiology report.

Deaths due to diseases of the cardiovascular system

The first cause of death in the Insubria HPA area was diseases of the cardiovascular system, which accounted for 34.1% of general deaths. However, if we consider gender, they accounted for 37.4% of deaths in women, and 30.6% in men. Considering the individual diseases, in men, the main cause of death was ischemic heart disease, and in women, it was cerebrovascular diseases.

Deaths due to cancer

The second cause of death was cancer: 30.9% in general, 26.7% in women and 35.6% in men; in men, this was still the main cause of death. In men, the most frequent form of cancer was of the lungs, followed by a significant number of colorectal cancer, leukaemia/lymphoma, liver cancer and prostate cancer. The cases of lung cancer were primarily concentrated in the 65 to 84 year group. In women, the main cause of death was breast cancer, starting at the age of 35, with the largest concentration of cases in the over 64 group; then, in terms of numerical importance, come lung, colorectal and pancreatic cancer, and leukaemia/lymphomas.

Death due to other causes

The remaining causes together accounted for 35.0% of general deaths. In particular, respiratory diseases accounted for 8.0% of deaths, concentrated in the over 74 year group. Diseases of the digestive system accounted for 3.3% of the deaths and, of these, 25.8% could be attributed to cirrhosis of the liver, followed by intestinal ischemia and occlusion. The fatal diseases of the nervous system accounted for 4.8% of the total. Of these, deaths from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease were prevalent. The total number of deaths from infectious diseases was 387, equal to 2.8% of the total; of these, 60.7% could be attributed to sepsis, and 8.0% to AIDS. Among the violent causes, there were 86 suicides, of which, 75.6% were men. The corresponding rate was 6.0 per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2014 (the last data available), at national and regional levels, the rate was respectively 6.7 and 6.6. Still in 2014, in the provinces of Varese and Como, the rate per 100,000 inhabitants was 7.0 and 7.3 respectively. The youngest case of suicide death was of a 14-year-old. There were 52 fatal road accidents (1), of which 67.3% were men. The corresponding rate is 3.6 for every 100,000 inhabitants, less than the national average (5.4) and the Lombardy average (4.3) – (2016 ISTAT data). The average age was higher in the females; the median was 56.0 in males and 79.0 in females (Table No. 7).

Death by age group

Tables Nos. 5 and 6 show the principle causes of death by age group. Under 15 years, the main cause of death in the two sexes was perinatal causes and congenital malformations. In the 15-34 age group, trauma followed by cancer were the main causes in both males and females. In the age groups 35-54 and 55-74, for both sexes, the main cause was cancer, followed by diseases of the circulatory system. Finally, in the over-74 group, for both sexes, the main cause was diseases of the circulatory system, followed by cancer.


In 2016, the crude death rate in the Insubria HPA area was 9.4 per 1000 inhabitants (9.9 in 2015). In Italy and Lombardy, the rates were 10.7 and 9.9 per 1000 inhabitants, respectively (2015 ISTAT data). The average age of death was 82.8 years for women, and 77.3 years for men. Infant mortality was 4.0 per 1000 live births. At both national and regional levels, in 2014 (the last ISTAT data available), it was 2.8 per 1000, respectively, and in the provinces of Varese and Como, it was 2.8 and 3.0 per 1000, respectively.

Considering the distribution of deaths over the year, the months of January, February, March and December had the highest levels. Regarding the spatial distribution, the SMRs obtained using the indirect standardisation method show that the deaths from all causes showed a significant excess in Varese’s Sette Laghi district, and a significant decrease in the Olona Valley district. Deaths from cancer in the three districts did not differ statistically significantly from the HPA death rate. Death from diseases of the cardiovascular system showed a significant excess in the Sette Laghi district, and a significant reduction in the Lariano district.

Suicides (in 2016, there were 86, in 2015, 91) need continuous monitoring and are a matter of priority in prevention programs, especially locally, considering that have a great impact on the population. We should keep in mind that they may be affected by economic crises.

Despite the death rate due to road accidents being below the national average (albeit higher than that of some European countries), it is necessary to continue to implement road safety policies.

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