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Adult females (aged 18 years and over) were more likely than males to report most of the selected long-term conditions. However, females were also more likely to consult health professionals and have conditions diagnosed. For example, in 2001 it was estimated that 27% of females had consulted a doctor in the previous two weeks, compared with 21% of males. Females also have a longer life expectancy, so that there are more females in older age groups where long-term conditions are common. Adult males had a higher prevalence of neoplasms and hearing loss. The latter may be partly attributable to the higher numbers of males working in environments where they are exposed to loud noise.
The proportion of people who reported hearing loss generally increased steadily with age (graph 9.3). Hearing loss due to the ageing process (presbycusis) and environmental exposure to noise are important causes of hearing loss. Only 1% of 0-4 year olds experienced hearing loss, which increased to 12% among 45-49 year olds, and to over 54% of people aged 85 years and over.
The prevalence of hyperopia (long-sightedness) within the population also appears to be age-related. Less than 8% of people in all age groups under 45 reported being long-sighted. However, this was significantly higher at 41% of those aged 45-49 and is higher again in age groups up to the sixties. It affects 43% of people aged 85 and over.
Age is also a major determining factor in arthritis. Less than 3% of people aged under 40 years reported arthritis, compared to 44% of those aged 60 and over.
There were 128,291 deaths registered in 2000, consisting of 66,817 male and 61,474 female deaths. This represented an increase of 0.1% on the corresponding figure for 1999 (128,102 deaths). Malignant neoplasms and ischaemic heart diseases were the leading underlying causes of death, accounting for 28% and 21% respectively of total deaths registered (table 9.4).
During the decade up to 2000, the total number of deaths registered annually increased by approximately 7%. However, the standardised death rate of 566 deaths per 100,000 population in 2000 was 21% lower than the corresponding rate of 715 in 1990. These outcomes are consistent with continuing improvements in life expectancy in Australia.
Over the 10 years to 2000, there were quite different patterns of decline in the two leading causes of death, malignant neoplasms and ischaemic heart diseases, which together account for nearly half the total deaths. Between 1990 and 2000, the standardised death rate for malignant neoplasms decreased by 10%, while the rate for ischaemic heart diseases decreased by 39% (graph 9.5).