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Home > Blog > health > Top 3 Causes of Death in Singapore

Top 3 Causes of Death in Singapore

04 May 20203 Mins Read

Singapore’s life expectancy has been increasing due to medical advances in diagnostic testing and cancer treatment. We now own the title of having the world’s longest life expectancy, with its people expected to life up till 85.4 years. Yet, while our life expectancy was at 84.2 years in 2017, the healthy life expectancy was only 74.2 years in the same year.

This can be explained by Singapore’s ageing population. The number of elderlies above 65 in Singapore is expected to increase, from 14.4% in 2019 to 25% in 2030. Coupled with the increased proportion of elderly developing chronic diseases, this explains why Singaporeans were found to be spending a greater proportion of their time in poor health, especially near the later years of their life.

In 2018, the top three causes of death in Singapore were cancer, pneumonia as well as ischaemic heart disease. In fact, the three illnesses accounted for more than 65% of all deaths in Singapore, with cancer and ischaemic heart disease being the top two causes of disability, lowering the quality of life of affected Singaporeans near the end of their lives.

1. Cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Singapore, accounting for 28.8% of total deaths in 2018.

Here are the most common type of cancer in Singaporean men and women.

*Data as of 2017

For most cancer types, regular screening can help to detect any abnormalities early. Detection in the early stages can help to increase the chances of recovery and survival.

According to the Singapore Cancer Society, one in 14 women will develop breast cancer by the time they are 75 years old. It is recommended that women above the age of 50 should go for mammograms once every two years even if they feel well.

2. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a serious inflammation of the lungs which is usually caused by an infection.

Infants and young children, those over the age of 65 as well as those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease are at the greatest risk of developing severe pneumonia. In fact, it is the leading cause of death for children under the age of five worldwide.

The symptoms of pneumonia are similar to that of the common cold, such as cough, fever and the chills. It is highly recommended for those at the high-risk group to go for flu vaccinations annually to better protect themselves against pneumonia.

By practicing good hygiene such as washing your hands frequently can also help to prevent pneumonia. If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms such as a cough or runny nose, it is highly recommended that you wear a mask to prevent the spread of pneumonia.

3. Ischaemic Heart Disease

Ischaemic Heart Disease is another term for coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease. The term “ischaemic” refers to inadequate blood flow as the arteries may be blocked or narrowed, making it difficult for the arteries to supply blood to the heart. Ischaemic Heart Disease can generally lead to heart attacks or heart failure.

Some symptoms include chest pain, heaviness in the chest as well as shortness of breath. Risk factors include age, as well as the presence of family history. Should you find yourself at a high-risk of contracting heart diseases, do regularly consult your doctor for an assessment.

If detected early, doctors may choose to do either a Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (CABG) or a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PTCA) to improve blood flow. 

Life can be unpredictable, and it is important for us to be prepared for unexpected moments. When diagnosed with a critical illness, knowing that you are protected by a comprehensive health insurance plan can help you to focus better on treatment and recovery.

*Singapore Cancer Society


This article is for general information only and does not take into account the specific investment objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of AXA Insurance Pte Ltd and should not be construed as the provision of advice or making of any recommendation. There is no intention to distribute, or offer to sell, or solicit any offer to purchase any product. We recommend that you seek the advice of a qualified financial advisory professional before making any decision to purchase an insurance or investment product. Whilst we have taken reasonable care to ensure that all information provided was obtained from reliable sources and correct at time of publishing, information may become outdated and opinions may change. We are not liable for any loss that may result from the access or use of the information herein provided.

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

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