How Will We Die – Free Ebook

First the good news, you probably won’t be murdered, run over by a bus or eaten by a shark. Murders, transport an animal accidents kill just seven percent of people in the developed world every year. Now, the less good news: Most people when asked say they would like to die quickly, ideally without warning and in their sleep. But the reality is that your death will almost certainly be lingering, drawn out and with plenty of forewarning. That’s because it’s likely you will die of a chronic disease. Roughly eighty seven percent of deaths in the developed world are caused by non-infectious disease: a condition that starts deep in the tissues of your own body and last a long time, slowly and ruthlessly reducing your ability to lead a full life until you die. This means you will probably die in hospital; 60 percent of us do with 1 in 10 having been there for a month or more. Just 18 percent of us die in our own homes, comforted by the sight of familiar surroundings and possessions. On the plus side, you will probably not die in pain. Pain is fully controlled in 60 to 70 percent of cases of chronic disease. Though dying inevitably involves some neurological and bone pains that are hard to relieve. That how you die but what exactly will kill you? Most likely your heart. You have a 1 in 3 chance of dying from cardiovascular disease. That means a failure of your circulatory system. The system of veins and arteries that is steadily and rhythmically pumping blood around your body at a rate of around 80 beats per minute right now, as you watch this film. 12 percent of you will die from a heart attack and 8 percent from a stroke. The single biggest risk factor is something you can do little to prevent: high blood pressure. In over 90 percent of cases the cause of high blood pressure is simply unknown. The next thing most likely to kill you is cancer caused when a mutation develops in one of your cells and reproduces uncontrollably. Cancer is responsible for a quarter of all deaths in the developed world. Chances are that a cancerous cell has already developed in your body. It can take many years for it to divide and grow and form a tumor big enough to cause symptoms or show up on a scan. It will probably be in your bowel or lung. Cancers in those parts of the body are the most common making up 13 percent of all new cancer cases. There are variations due to gender of course: if you’re a woman then cancer will most likely start in your breast and if you’re a man it will get going in your prostate. You can reduce the chances of getting some cancers: Twenty-two percent of them are caused by smoking but two-thirds of cancers are non preventable. Which means no change to your lifestyle or diet will ever help. And by far the biggest risk factor is the least preventable of all: age. 63 percent of people who get cancer are over the age of 65. If cancer doesn’t kill you and cardiovascular disease doesn’t either, then a respiratory disease probably will: 9.4 percent of people who died in 2010 died from a condition like bronchitis or emphysema that affected their lungs. And then there are a myriad of lesser courses, chief among them is dementia. 4.3 percent of us will go this way. Though that’s not to say that it’s unlikely you’ll get dementia. Because current estimates suggest a third of people who die of other causes also have dementia. What we can say is that when you die you will almost certainly be old. By 2030, people over the age of 65 will account for 86 percent of deaths in the developed world while 44 percent will be people over 85 which brings us to the most pressing question of all: When will it happen? Probably when you are about 80. On average, people in the developed world live to be 79.7 years old. Which means that if you’re 15 you have roughly 65 years left and if you’re closer to 45 it’s more like 35 and if you’re 65 and all goes well you have about 15 years left. There are variations of course, women live about 5 years longer than men. If you live in Japan you’ll probably live 3 years beyond 80 whereas living in Hungary or Turkey might mean you live 5 years less. If you’re overweight you might lose a year while being severely obese risk losing up to 13 years. If you had a degree by the time you’re 30 you might live 6 years longer than someone who didn’t. And if you’re in a happy relationship you might live longer too. One scientist has likend the effect on your health of companionship to that of not smoking. Though we can never predict the future, these facts and figures can’t change one simple incontrovertible ghastly fact: The likelihood that we will all die is 100 percent. Which is why in the time that remains we must be kind especially to those around us and to ourselves. We must understand our true talents and potential and try to put them to use and we must appreciate every day aware that the end might not be so far away.

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