The 2004-05 NHS found almost 77% of the Australian population reported one or more long-term conditions (i.e. conditions that have lasted, or are expected to last for six months or more). In most cases, respondents were asked about conditions which had been medically diagnosed.
Among adults aged 18 years and over in 2004-05, females in general were more likely than males to report selected long-term conditions with the exception of total/partial hearing loss and back problems (table 9.2). While similar proportions of females and males reported having hypertension and diabetes, females were more likely to consult health professionals. For example, in 2004-05 it was estimated 26% of females had consulted a doctor in the two weeks prior to the survey interview, compared with 20% of males. Females also have a longer life expectancy. This results in higher proportions of females in the older age groups where long-term conditions are common. Adult males had a higher prevalence of back problems, hearing loss and diabetes.
The proportion of people who reported back pain, back problems and disc disorders increased rapidly after early teenage years from 1% among those aged 10-14 years, to 23% among people aged 40-44 years. Prevalence then tended to decrease among those aged 65 years and over (graph 9.3).
The proportion of people reporting diabetes mellitus as a long-term condition remained below 1% among people aged less than 35 years before slowly increasing. Rates then remained between 10% and 15% for those aged 60 years and over, with the highest rate of 15% among those aged 70-74 years.
There were 132,500 deaths registered in 2004, consisting of 68,400 males and 64,100 females. The age-standardised death rate of 626 deaths per 100,000 population in 2004 was 23% lower than the corresponding rate of 812 in 1994. This is consistent with continuing improvements in life expectancy in Australia (see the Population chapter).
Cancer and circulatory disease (also called cardiovascular disease) together account for nearly two-thirds of all deaths. Over the ten years to 2004, death rates from cancer and cardiovascular diseases have both declined, though the decline has been more substantial in death rates from cardiovascular diseases. From 1994 to 2004, the standardised death rate for malignant neoplasms (cancer) decreased by 14%, while the rate for circulatory diseases decreased by 39% (graph 9.4).
Causes of death
Ischaemic heart diseases (heart attack and related disorders) and cerebrovascular diseases (stroke) are the leading causes of death for both males and females. Thereafter gender differences become apparent. Lung cancer is ranked third for males followed by chronic lower respiratory diseases; while for females, dementia and Alzheimer's disease is third and is followed by breast cancer.
Notable differences are apparent in the rankings for certain specific causes between males and females. In males, for example, suicide is a prominent cause of death (ranked ninth) accounting for 1,661 male deaths, while this cause for females lies outside the first ten causes, accounting for 437 female deaths in 2004.
9.2 SELECTED LONG-TERM CONDITIONS(a)(b) - 2004-05
|Hayfever and allergic rhinitis|
|Total/partial hearing loss|
|(a) Conditions which have lasted or are expected to last six months or more.|
(b) Persons aged 18 years and over.
(c) Includes back pain, back problems n.e.c. and disc disorders.
|Source: ABS data available on request, 2004-05 National Health Survey.|
Australia's death rates from all causes are among the lowest in the world, consistent with Australia's relatively high life expectancy. Age-standardised death rates for males and females in selected countries are shown in table 9.6.
9.5 LEADING CAUSES OF DEATH - 2004
|Rank(a)||Underlying cause of death||ICD-10 code|
|1||Ischaemic heart diseases||I20-I25|
|4||Chronic lower respiratory diseases||J40-J47|
|7||Cancers of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue(c)||C81-C96|
|10||Influenza and Pneumonia||J10-J18|
|1||Ischaemic heart diseases||I20-I25|
|3||Dementia and Alzheimer's disease||F01, F03, G30|
|5||Chronic lower respiratory diseases||J40-J47|
|8||Influenza and Pneumonia||J10-J18|
|10||Cancers of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue(c)||C81-C96|
|(a) Using ranking list for leading causes of death published in Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, April 2006.|
(b) Rate per 100,000.
(c) Includes leukaemias, lymphomas and other causes.
|Source: ABS data available on request, Causes of Death collection.|
Infant mortality rates
The infant mortality rate (IMR) is defined as the number of deaths of children under one year of age per 1,000 live births. In 2004, 1,200 infant deaths were registered in Australia. This number was 22% lower than the number registered in 1994 (1,500), and 45% lower than in 1984 (2,200). The infant mortality rate of 4.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2004 was 20% lower than the IMR in 1994 (5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births), and 49% lower than that recorded in 1984 (9.2 deaths per 1,000 live births). Australia's infant mortality has declined significantly in the last 100 years. In 1904, one in twelve infants born did not survive to their first birthday (IMR of 81.8). In 2004, less than one in 200 infants born did not survive their first year of life (IMR of 4.7) (graph 9.7 and Infant mortality over the last 100 years in the Population chapter).
The early decline in infant mortality has been linked to improvements in public sanitation and health education. Later declines may be a consequence of the introduction of universal health insurance (Medicare) and improvements in medical technology, such as neonatal intensive care units.
9.6 AGE-STANDARDISED DEATH RATES(a), By selected countries
|Korea, Republic of (South)|
|United States of America|
|(a) Age-standardised using the World Health Organisation standard population. Rates in this table may differ from rates in other tables because of the use of different standard populations.|
(b) Latest available year.
(c) Rate per 100,000 males.
(d) Rate per 100,000 females.
(e) Age-standardised death rates in 2001 were 438 male deaths per 100,000 males and 287 female deaths per 100,000 females.
|Source: World Health Organization 2004, 'The World Health Report', Geneva.|