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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
Leading causes as a proportion of all male and female deaths, 2014
Causes of death by age
Leading causes of death vary across age groups.
Further information can be found in the Leading Causes of Death section in this publication.
Years of Potential Life Lost
Years of Potential Life Lost measures the extent of 'premature' mortality. While a cause of death may have a lower incidence than that of another, its impact when measured in terms of premature death may be greater, as a result of that cause affecting a younger demographic.
Intentional self-harm (X60-X84) deaths accounted for 97,066 years of potential life lost, the highest of all leading causes in 2014. Deaths from Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (F01, F03, G30) accounted for only 6,710 years of potential life lost. A key reason for this difference is that the median age at death for Intentional self-harm (X60-X84) in 2014 was 44.2 years. In comparison, the median age at death for Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (X60-X84) was 88.4 years. The median age at deaths for all causes in 2014 was 81.8 years.
Potentially Avoidable Mortality
Potentially avoidable deaths comprise deaths from certain conditions that are considered avoidable given timely and effective health care. In 2014, 26,283 Australians died from potentially avoidable causes of death.
Among people who died between 15 and 44 years of age, 69.8% of deaths were considered to be potentially avoidable in 2014. Some of the leading potentially avoidable causes included Intentional self-harm (X60-X84), Accidental poisonings (X40-X49) and Land transport accidents (V01-V89).
Approximately half (46.9%) of those who died aged 45-74, died of causes considered to be potentially avoidable. The most common potentially avoidable causes for this age group were Ischaemic heart diseases (I20-I25), Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (J40-J44) and Colon, sigmoid, rectum and anus cancer (C18-C21).
Further information can be found in the Potentially Avoidable Mortality section in this publication.
Multiple Causes of Death
Multiple causes are all causes and conditions reported on the death certificate that contributed to, were associated with, or were the underlying cause of the death (see the Glossary for further details). Looking at these multiple causes gives a more complete picture of the diseases and conditions affecting the health of the Australian population. In 2014 there was an average of 3.3 causes for each death.
As the population ages, deaths are likely to feature chronic conditions with multiple comorbidities. Approximately two-thirds of deaths (65.9%) in people aged over 75 years in 2014 had three or more conditions certified by a doctor or coroner. For people under 45 years of age, 53.0% of deaths were reported with three or more conditions.
Deaths where the underlying cause is considered to be chronic, are generally more likely to have a greater number of conditions reported on the death certificate than deaths due to other causes. In 2014, for deaths with an underlying cause of Type 2 diabetes (E11), there was an average of 5.5 conditions reported with each death, the most common of these being Diseases of the circulatory system (I00-I99).
Further information can be found in the Multiple Causes of Death section in this publication.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Causes of Death
The top three WHO leading causes of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in 2014 were Ischaemic heart diseases (I20-I25), Diabetes (E10-E14) and Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40-J47).
Compared to the non-Indigenous population, death rates were 1.7 times higher for Ischaemic heart diseases (I20-I25), 5.9 times higher for Diabetes (E10-E14) and 3.0 times higher for Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40-J47) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Further information can be found in the Deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander section of this publication.
Changes were made to the coding of Perinatal deaths in 2013 which resulted in neonatal deaths being assigned only a 'main condition in infant' rather than an underlying cause of death. In the past year the ABS has led a process, working with coding specialists both internationally and nationally, to derive a supported method for coding an underlying cause for deaths certified using the Medical Certificate of Cause of Perinatal Death (MCCPD). This has resulted in a new coding method for neonatal deaths which has been implemented by the ABS.
Further information on changes to the Perinatal dataset can be found in Technical Note 2, Changes to Perinatal Death Coding.
This publication draws extensively on information provided freely by the state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and the Victorian Department of Justice who manage the National Coronial Information System (NCIS). Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of vitals statistics published by the ABS would not be available.
For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.
It should be noted that a national causes of death unit record file can be obtained through the Australian Coordinating Registry at the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (data available on application for legitimate research purposes only).
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