October 25, 2017

Heart disease most prominent cause of death in Australia

Heart disease was the leading cause of death among Australians in 2016, data released on Wednesday revealed.

Out of 158,504 total deaths in Australia in 2016, Ischaemic heart disease was responsible for 19,077 (12 per cent), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said.

The death rate still increased compared to the previous year despite the rate of heart disease deaths falling from 99.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2007 to 62.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.

Dementia was the second most prominent (8.3 per cent) followed by cerebrovascular diseases (6.6 per cent), cancer of the lung, bronchus and trachea (5.3 per cent) and chronic lower respiratory disease (5.1 per cent).

Most concerning for authorities from the figures is that the rate of drug-related deaths has hit a 20-year peak with narcotics responsible for 7.5 out of every 100,000 deaths, the highest figure since 1999.

The ABS found that in 2016 the most likely victim of a drug-related death was a middle-aged male living outside a capital city who misused prescription drugs whose death was accidental.

Nine out of 10 victims of drug-related deaths in 2016 were 64 years old or younger with 40 per cent aged 44 or under.

On average, the ABS found, a person whose death was drug-related died 33.7 years premature.

Conversely, the median age of those who died of Ischaemic heart disease, a condition that affects the supply of blood to the heart, was 85.1 years old.

The top five most common causes of death were mostly consistent with previous results, but the ABS found that dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, became the leading cause of death among Australian females.

Overall, the death rate from dementia for the whole population was up from 30.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2007 to 40.9 in 2016, equating to 36 deaths per day.

Among females, however, the standardised death rate from dementia was 43.3 as it was responsible for 8,251 deaths, slightly more than the 8,207 from heart disease.

The median age of dementia victims was 88.8 years old.