3303.0 - Causes of Death, Australia, 2009 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/05/2011   
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3 May, 2011
Embargo: 11.30 am (Canberra Time)

Heart disease still the leading cause of death in Australia

The leading cause of death in Australia in 2009 was heart disease, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). While the proportion of deaths from heart disease has decreased over the past decade, it still accounted for 16.0% of all deaths in 2009, compared with 20.9% in 2000.

Deaths due to dementia and Alzheimer's disease have more than doubled over the past 10 years, accounting for 5.9% of all deaths in 2009 compared to 2.8% in 2000. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are now the third leading cause of death overall. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are most prevalent amongst females where they are the third leading cause of death, compared to sixth for males.

Lung cancer was responsible for the most deaths caused by cancer and is the fourth leading cause overall. Lung cancer accounted for 5.5% of all deaths and is the second leading cause of death for males and the fourth leading cause for females.

There were 2,130 deaths due to suicide in 2009. Males accounted for over three-quarters of all suicide deaths, with suicide ranking as the tenth leading cause of death of males, and the fourteenth leading cause overall. Suicide accounted for 22.1% of all deaths amongst 15-24 year old males in 2009.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, accounting for 15.3% of all Indigenous deaths.

Diabetes and external causes of death are over-represented in the Indigenous population. Diabetes was responsible for 8.0% of all Indigenous deaths, compared with 2.9% of deaths of non-Indigenous people. External causes, including accidents, suicides and homicides, represented 13.9% of all Indigenous deaths, compared with 6.1% of non-Indigenous deaths.

Further information is available in Causes of Death, Australia, 2009.

Media notes:

  • Care should be taken when reporting suicide deaths in the media. Please refer to the Mindframe website for further guidance.
  • Care should be taken when interpreting figures relating to suicide and when comparing 2009 suicide data with previous years. See Explanatory notes 28-32, 48-60 and 80-83 for further information.
  • Leading causes of death data is compiled as per World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations. See Explanatory notes 39-41 for further information.
  • 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.
  • ‘Lung cancer’ refers to Trachea, bronchus and lung cancers and includes ICD-10 codes C33-C34.
  • ‘Suicide' includes ICD-10 codes X60-X84, but excludes the Sequelae of Suicide (Y87.0) in line with WHO recommendations.
  • When reporting ABS statistics, please attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) as the source.