3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 2008 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/03/2010   
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March 31, 2010
Embargo: 11.30 am (CANBERRA TIME) 31/03/2010

Less heart disease, more dementia: ABS

The proportion of Australian deaths by Heart disease has decreased over the last ten years, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). In 1999, 22% of all deaths in Australia were due to heart disease, compared to 16% of all deaths in 2008.

Despite this decline, however, heart disease remained the biggest killer in Australia, responsible for 16% of all deaths in 2008.

Over the same period, deaths due to Dementia and Alzheimer's disease more than doubled. The continued increase in deaths from Dementia and Alzheimer's disease has seen this cause of death overtake Trachea and lung cancers as the third leading cause of death in Australia.

Trachea and lung cancers were responsible for most deaths caused by cancer, and was the fourth leading cause of death overall.

Similar to the whole population, heart disease was the leading cause of death in the Indigenous population, accounting for 13% of all Indigenous deaths.

Diabetes and External causes of death are over-represented in the Indigenous population. Diabetes was responsible for 7.6% of all Indigenous deaths, compared with 2.8% of deaths of non-Indigenous people. External causes (such as Intentional self-harm [Suicide] and motor vehicle accidents) represented 16% of all Indigenous deaths, compared with 5.9% of non-Indigenous deaths.

For all Australians, there were 2,191 deaths due to Suicide in 2008. Males accounted for over three-quarters of all Suicide deaths in 2008, resulting in a ranking as the tenth leading cause of death of males, and the fourteenth overall leading cause of death.

The ABS has instituted a significant quality assurance process to improve the quality of coding specificity, in particular the number of cases able to be coded to Suicide. This has resulted in an increase in the number of deaths coded to suicide for 2008. The number of suicides recorded for 2007 has also been revised upwards by 173. Care should be taken in comparing 2008 suicide data with 2007 suicide data, as much of the recorded increase would be due to the quality improvement process applied to 2008 data.

Further information is available in Causes of Death, Australia, 2008.

Media notes:

  • Care should be taken when comparing 2008 suicide data with 2007 suicide data due to process improvements which have been applied. See Technical Notes 1 - 3
  • In this context, 'heart disease' refers to ischaemic heart diseases, including angina, blocked arteries of the heart, and heart attack (I20-I25).
  • 'Dementia and Alzheimer's disease' includes ICD-10 codes F01-F03, G30.
  • 'Trachea and lung cancers' include ICD-10 codes C33-C34.
  • 'Intentional self-harm [Suicide]' includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84, Y87.0. However leading causes of death data is compiled as per the World Health Organisation's recommendations, and for Suicide this excludes the Sequelae of Suicide (Y87.0).
  • When reporting on ABS statistics, please attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) as the source.