Population: 33,387,677 (Census 2011)

Life expectancy at birth: 74.6 years (Census 2011)

Literacy rate: 94.59% (Census 2011)

Kerala Health Statistics

  • 20% of all deaths in Kerala are caused by coronary heart disease (CHD/CAD)
  • The age-adjusted CAD (coronary artery disease) mortality rates per 100,000 are 382 for men and 128 for women in Kerala. These CAD rates in Kerala are higher than those of industrialized countries and 3 to 6 times higher than Japanese and rural Chinese.
  • CAD in Kerala is premature and malignant resulting in death at a very young age. Approximately 60% of CAD deaths in men and 40% of CAD deaths in women occur before the age of 65 years.
  • The average age of a first heart attack decreased by at least 10 years in Kerala, in sharp contrast to a 20 year increase in many western countries.
  • In the 1960s and 70s, heart attack in the very young (before the age of 40) was very uncommon in Kerala. Heart attack rate among men in this age group increased 40-fold by 1990 with at least 20% heart attacks occurring before age 40 and 50% before age 50.
  • The high rates of premature heart disease in Kerala also results in a high economic burden as high as 20% of its state domestic product.
  • Hospitalization for a heart attack results in catastrophic health spending in more than 60% of the high income and more than 80% of low income people (from Kerala) with 50% of these requiring distress financing.
  • Prevalence of heart disease in rural Kerala is 7%, which is nearly double that of north India and parallel the high levels of cholesterol in Kerala ─ the state named after the ubiquitous coconut.
  • The prevalence of risk factors is high even in rural Kerala: diabetes 20%, high blood pressure 42%, high cholesterol (>200mg/dl) 72%, smoking (42% in men) and obesity (body mass index >25) 40%, physical inactivity 41%, unhealthy alcohol consumption 13%.
  • In Kerala tobacco is responsible for 50% and diet for 10-20% of cancers.
  • It is estimated that 35,000 new cancer cases occur in Kerala in one year. Among males 50% of cancers in the mouth, throat and lungs are caused by tobacco and alcohol habits. Among women tobacco related cancers are 15%.
    In South India there is a trend towards increasing consumption of red meat which can lead to increased risk for large bowel cancer.
  • Among cancers in women, about 30-35 per cent is accounted by breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among the women in Kerala, with 1,200 new cases registered at the Regional Cancer Centre alone annually.
  • According to the data available with the Thiruvananthapuram Cancer Registry, the prevalence rate in rural areas is 19.8 per 100,000, while in the urban areas, it is 30.5 per 100,000.
  • In 2010, Kerala recorded a total of 1,618 breast cancer deaths among women.
  • Also, the incidence of thyroid and ovarian cancers is up among women in Kerala.
  • Prostate cancer, the most common malignancy among men worldwide, is among the 10 leading cancers in Kerala.
  • The onset of cancer is high in Karnataka, Kerala and Gujarat before age 60 years.
  • Kerala has a prevalence of diabetes as high as 20% ─ double the national average of 8%. The prevalence was 17% in urban, 10% in the midland, 7% in the highland, and 4% in the coastal regions.
  • Cardiovascular disease is the foremost killer of people with diabetes. 80% of diabetic patients die from heart disease.
  • Only 40% of people with diabetes had adequate control of blood sugar. Among those with diagnosed diabetes, 17% received no treatment, 15% were on diet alone, and 68% were on medications.
  • Prevalence of many risk factors are nearly as high in rural areas with people from rural Kerala having paradoxically higher rates of diabetes than urban dwellers. In one large study the prevalence of diabetes was 19% in rural men and 22% in rural women compared to 12% in urban men and 17% in urban women.
  • People from Kerala have the highest cholesterol level in India that ranges from 197 to 229mg/dl compared to 157 to 180mg/dl nationally.
  • Total fat intake in Kerala is 30% of the energy with 70% of that (20% of daily energy) coming from saturated fat. Generous portions of  coconut meat, milk and oil is used for preparing virtually every dishes including vegetables, fish and even meat and bread.


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