CAUSES OF DEATH STATISTICS
Causes of death statistics are a key to understanding Australian society and health. The use of these statistics for demographic and health purposes provides significant information for the formulation and monitoring of health and other social policies. For example, causes of death information provide insights into the diseases and factors contributing to reduced life expectancy.
Causes of death statistics in Australia are recorded as both underlying cause i.e. the disease or injury which initiated the train of morbid events leading directly to death; and multiple cause i.e. all causes and conditions reported on the death certificate that contributed, were associated with or were the underlying cause of the death (see Glossary for further details).
Causes of death data in this publication are classified using the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) (see Explanatory Notes 29-37 for further information).
Causes of death data can be presented by using varying types of aggregation depending on the requirements of the data user. In this publication, data are presented in a number of ways to allow different types of analysis.
Chapter 2 of this publication presents data based on the National Health Priority Areas (NHPAs) of Australia. Australia's National Health Priority Areas are diseases and conditions given focused attention because of their significant contribution to the burden of illness and injury in the Australian community.
Chapter 3 of this publication presents data ranked by leading cause of death. The methodology for the listing used is based on research presented in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation (see Explanatory Notes 40-42). Data presented by Leading Cause is useful when comparing causes of death in different populations and/or over time.
Chapter 4 of this publication presents underlying cause of death data by individual ICD-10 chapter. Data presented in this manner is used to analyse particular causes or groups of similar causes. Information on standardised death rates, age at death and Years of Potential Life Lost for individual and groups of causes is presented in this chapter. Further data is presented by ICD-10 chapter in the datacubes associated with this publication.
Chapter 5 presents data on multiple causes of death. Multiple cause of death data is useful in the analysis of all the associated conditions that led to death, rather than the underlying cause alone.
Chapter 6 on Suicides and Chapter 7 on Deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians present summary data on these specific areas of public interest.
As the Australian population continues to increase in both size and age, the number of deaths registered each year also continues to slowly increase. In 2008, there were 143,946 deaths registered in Australia, approximately 6,100 (4.4%) more than the number registered in 2007 (137,854). The standardised death rate (SDR) in 2008 (6.0 deaths per 1,000 standard population) was the same as in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Males accounted for 73,548 (51%) deaths registered in 2008, a slightly lower proportion than the 67,227 (52%) male deaths registered in 1999. Females accounted for 70,398 (49%) of deaths registered in 2008, an increase over the past decade from 60,875 (48%) deaths in 1999.
Further details on numbers of deaths registered can be found in Deaths, Australia 2008 (3302.0).
Leading Cause of Death
In 2008, Ischaemic heart disease, defined as ICD-10 codes I20-I25, was the leading underlying cause of death in Australia. Ischaemic heart disease includes angina, blocked arteries (heart) and heart attacks, both new and old. It was the underlying cause of 16% of all registered deaths in Australia. It accounted for 17% of all male deaths, and 16% of all female deaths registered in 2008. Ischaemic heart disease has been the leading cause of death in Australia since 1999.
Underlying Cause of Death
The following table presents summary causes of death data for each major chapter of the ICD-10. Further information on those causes at the 3-digit level where 10, 20, or 50 or more deaths were attributed to the cause in 2008 is presented in Chapter 4 of this publication titled Underlying Cause of Death by ICD-10.
Multiple Cause of Death
1.1 DEATHS, by ICD10 CHAPTER LEVEL - 2008(a)(b)
Proportion of total deaths
Standardised Death Rate
|Cause of Death and ICD Code |
|Certain infectious and parasitic diseases (A00-B99) |
|Neoplasms (C00-D48) |
|Diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs and certain disorders involving the immune mechanism (D50-D89) |
|Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases (E00-E90) |
|Mental and behavioural disorders (F00-F99) |
|Diseases of the nervous system (G00-G99) |
|Diseases of the circulatory system (I00-I99) |
|Diseases of the respiratory system (J00-J99) |
|Diseases of the digestive system (K00-K93) |
|Diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissue (L00-L99) |
|Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (M00-M99) |
|Diseases of the genitourinary system (N00-N99) |
|Certain conditions originating in the perinatal period (P00-P96) |
|Congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities (Q00-Q99) |
|Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified (R00-R99) |
|External causes of morbidity and mortality (V01-Y98) |
|All Causes(c) |
|(a) 2008 data have been subject to process improvements which have increased the quality of these data. See Technical Note 1: 2008 COD Collection - Process Improvements for further information. |
|(b) Causes of death data for 2008 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process. See Technical Note 2: Causes of Death - Revisions Process. |
|(c) All causes include cause chapters presented here, plus Diseases of the eye and adnexia (H00-H59), Diseases of the ear and mastoid process (H60-H95) and Pregnancy, childbirth, and the puerperium (O00-O99). |
For the 143,946 deaths registered in Australia in 2008, there were 466,538 causes reported giving a mean of 3.2 causes per death. The mean number of causes reported per death varies with age, sex and underlying cause of death. In 18% of all deaths, only one cause was reported, while 39% of deaths were reported with three or more causes. For further detail on multiple cause, see the Multiple Cause of Death
section of this publication (Chapter 5).
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