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Females were more likely than males to experience long term conditions, partly due to their older age structure. The higher number of long term conditions reported by females may also reflect that women are more likely to consult health professionals, and hence have conditions diagnosed.
The proportion of the population with any long term conditions increased with age, from 31% of 0-4 year olds to over 99% of people aged 60 years and over (graph 9.3).
The prevalence of hypermetropia increased slowly with age to 10% of people aged 35-39, then increased strongly to over 50% of people aged 55-60 years. It remained at this level (approximately 50%) for people in their sixties until decreasing gradually to 40% of those aged 85-89 years.
The prevalence of deafness in the community also increased with age; of those aged 90 years and over, 54% reported deafness as a long term condition, indicating that as people age their hearing abilities deteriorate. Factors such as the natural ageing process, as well as environmental exposure to noise, could explain this pattern.
Age is also a major determining factor in the prevalence of hypertension. Less than 1% of the Australian population aged under 20 experienced hypertension, compared to over 39% of those aged 70 years and over.
There were 128,102 deaths registered in 1999, consisting of 67,227 male and 60,875 female deaths.This represented an increase of 0.7% on the corresponding figure for 1998 (127,202 deaths). Malignant neoplasms and ischaemic heart diseases were the leading causes of death, accounting for 27% and 22% respectively of total deaths registered (table 9.4).
Examining deaths over the last decade, although the total number of deaths registered in 1999 was 3.1% greater than the number registered in 1989, the standardised death rate in 1999 (584 deaths per 100,000 population) was 23% lower than the corresponding figure in 1989 (759 deaths per 100,000 population). These figures are consistent with continuing improvements in life expectancy in Australia.
Over the ten years to 1999, 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 1989 and 1999, the standardised death rate for malignant neoplasms decreased 10%, while the rate for ischaemic heart diseases decreased 39%.