Ultimate guide to disease mortality? How a study of 7 million people could improve health

More than seven million people were examined for this study.
Rupendra Brahambhatt
A person laying dead with outstretched hand.Soumen Hazra/iStock

Studying the death rate, causes of death, life expectancy at birth, and various other mortality metrics allow scientists and policymakers to analyze the quality of life and improve the public healthcare system.

Recently, a team of researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark has also released a detailed report of mortality metrics for Denmark’s population. What’s more interesting about this report is that the researchers have analyzed the mortality factors by linking them with a wide range of diseases and external factors.

This one-of-a-kind Danish atlas of disease mortality could serve as a useful guide for scientists, doctors, and policymakers who seek connections between different diseases and mortality metrics. To come up with this comprehensive guide, researchers examined the data of 7,378,598 individuals that lived in Denmark at any given time between 2000 and 2018. More than 1,800 types of body ailments that were found in the members of the population were included in the study.

The significance of this comprehensive atlas of mortality?    

Ultimate guide to disease mortality? How a study of 7 million people could improve health
Source: Chokniti Khongchum/Pexels

The researchers highlight that their study is not the first attempt to associate disorders with mortality estimates. However, this is probably the first research work examining the metrics while covering many body ailments. Some previously published research papers have also taken diseases into consideration but they only focused on a particular health issue.   

For instance, a 2019 study concerning mortality factors published in The Lancet focuses only on mental disorders. Whereas another research from 2018 views death rate ratios in relation to only substance abuse and schizophrenia

In the summary of their report, the researchers wrote, “there have been many studies related to mortality linked to particular disorders, but the studies have not covered a comprehensive range of disorders. Previous studies have traditionally focused on relative measures of mortality [e.g., mortality rate ratios (MRRs)], or crude estimates of life expectancy that do not incorporate variation in the age of onset of the disorder.”

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The team at Aarhus University analyzed subjects diagnosed with 1803 classes of disorders using the national registers. They further established a panel of epidemiological and mortality metrics that incorporated various factors such as death rates and age at which disorders first appeared in the subjects. Using the data, the team created interactive charts and graphs showcasing their findings.

These findings can help policymakers to design more effective healthcare strategies. Moreover, they may also allow scientists to accurately analyze the role of various diseases in death and related parameters. “Here, we use a new method that more accurately captures premature mortality for more than 1,800 different health conditions,” said Oleguer Plana-Ripoll, lead author and senior researcher at Aarhus University.

The researchers also highlight that the connection between mortality estimates and diseases can also be affected by other factors yet to be discovered. Therefore, further research is required to overcome this limitation of the atlas.

The study is published in the journal PLoS Medicine.