Causes of death in the young and old

Leading causes of death vary substantially at different ages, according to new analysis released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

 

The AIHW Deaths snapshot presents the latest data on deaths in Australia including information on age at death, trends over time, causes of death and life expectancy.

 

It shows that chronic diseases—such as heart disease, dementia, cancers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—feature much more prominently among people aged 45 and over, and external causes, such as transport accidents and suicide, are the leading causes of death among people aged 1–44.

 

‘Coronary heart disease was the most common underlying cause of death in Australia for people aged 45 and over, followed by stroke, cancers, dementia and Alzheimer disease and respiratory conditions in 2011,’ said AIHW spokesperson Louise York.

 

Transport accidents were the leading cause of death for people aged 1–24 and suicide was the leading cause among people aged 25–44. Among infants, maternal, perinatal and congenital conditions were responsible for the most deaths (76%).

 

The snapshot shows there were 147,098 deaths registered in Australia in 2012. There has been a long and continuing decline in death rates in Australia, falling by 70% for males and 75% for females since 1907.

 

Most of the 147,098 deaths occurred among people aged 75 or over (66%). More women died when they were aged 75 and over (74%) than men (59%).

 

‘In general, women outlived men: the average age at death for men was 78.6, compared with 84.6 for women,’ Ms York said.

 

Australia has one of the highest life expectancies of any country in the world. Among OECD countries in 2011, Australia was ranked 6th for male life expectancy at birth and 7th for female life expectancy at birth.

 

Deaths in children aged 0–4 have dropped substantially over the past century; in 1907, deaths in this age group accounted for 26% of all deaths compared to 1% in 2012.

 

‘This may be due to improved hygiene, sanitation and neonatal health care, increased community awareness of risk factors for child death—such as accidents—and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases through universal immunisation programs,’ Ms York said.

 

The information published today also launches the latest AIHW General Record of Mortality (GRIM) Books, which are interactive workbooks that present summary statistics on death and trend information on deaths and causes of death in Australia.

 

See http://aihw.gov.au/deaths/ for more information.

 

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

 

16 January 2014.