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Causes of death, 2018


Recently the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released the 2018 Causes of Death (cat no. 3303.0) report which provided detailed information on the number and nature of deaths in Australia in 2018.

According to the ABS report:

In 2018, there were 158,493 registered deaths in Australia and the number one cause was Ischaemic heart disease with 17,533 deaths (11 per cent of all deaths). Even though the leading cause, the age-standardised death rate from Ischaemic heart disease has decreased by 22.4 per cent since 2009, consistent with declines in heart disease mortality observed now for more than 50 years.

Dementia (including Alzheimer's disease), remained the second leading cause of death. Deaths due to dementia have increased by 68.6 per cent since 2009 (from 8,280 to 13,963).

Cerebrovascular diseases (strokes etc.), Cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung and Chronic lower respiratory diseases rounded out the top five leading causes of death.

The top five leading causes of death accounted for more than one-third of all registered deaths (37 per cent).

Influenza and pneumonia was the 12th leading cause of death. According to the ABS, the number of influenza deaths is strongly linked to the severity of flu seasons and this can drive changes in ranking for this cause group.

Intentional self-harm was the 14th leading cause of death and has the lowest median age at death among the top 20 leading causes, at 44.4 years of age.

Table 1: top 20 leading causes of death, 2009 and 2018

Cause of death (Name and ICD-10 code) 2009 2018 Median age
(2018) years
No. Rank No. Rank
Ischaemic heart diseases (I20-I25) 22,587 1 17,533 1 84.7
Dementia, including Alzheimer disease (F01, F03, G30) 8,280 3 13,963 2 89.0
Cerebrovascular diseases (I60-I69) 11,216 2 9,972 3 86.2
Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung (C33, C34) 7,786 4 8,586 4 73.6
Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40-J47) 5,984 5 7,889 5 80.9
Malignant neoplasm of colon, sigmoid, rectum and anus (C18-C21, C26.0) 5,244 6 5,420 6 77.0
Diabetes (E10-E14) 4,176 7 4,656 7 81.4
Malignant neoplasms of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue (C81-C96) 3,811 8 4,612 8 78.2
Diseases of the urinary system (N00-N39) 3,315 9 3,384 9 86.8
Malignant neoplasm of prostate (C61) 3,111 11 3,264 10 82.6
Heart failure and complications and ill-defined heart disease (I50-I51) 3,219 10 3,192 11 88.5
Influenza and pneumonia (J09-J18) 1,790 17 3,102 12 89.3
Malignant neoplasm of pancreas (C25) 2,204 14 3,077 13 74.9
Intentional self-harm (X60-X84, Y87.0) 2,337 13 3,046 14 44.4
Malignant neoplasms of breast (C50) 2,799 12 3,034 15 71.7
Accidental falls (W00-W19) 1,450 21 2,952 16 87.3
Cardiac arrhythmias (I47-I49) 1,552 19 2,442 17 88.9
Hypertensive diseases (I10-I15) 1,845 15 2,136 18 88.2
Malignant neoplasm of liver and intrahepatic bile ducts (C22) 1,328 22 2,104 19 71.9
Melanoma and other malignant neoplasms of skin  (C43-C44) 1,837 16 2,094 20 77.5

In 2018, there were 82,320 male deaths and 76,173 female deaths. Table 2 shows the top 20 causes of death for males and females. The top five causes are the same for both males and females, although the ranking of those causes differs. For men the leading cause of death was Ischaemic heart disease with 10,269 deaths (ranked 2nd for women), for women it was Dementia with 8,973 (ranked 3rd for men). For external causes such as accidental, assaults and suicide; Suicide was ranked 10th for men (not in the top 20 for women) whilst Accidental falls were the highest ranked for females (14th).

Table 2: top 20 leading causes of death by sex, 2018

Cause of death Male Cause of death Female
No. Rank No. Rank
Ischaemic heart diseases 10,269 1 Dementia, including Alzheimer disease 8,973 1
Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus & lung 5,000 2 Ischaemic heart diseases 7,264 2
Dementia, including Alzheimer disease 4,990 3 Cerebrovascular diseases 5,808 3
Cerebrovascular diseases 4,164 4 Chronic lower respiratory diseases 3,839 4
Chronic lower respiratory diseases 4,050 5 Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung 3,586 5
Malignant neoplasm of prostate 3,264 6 Malignant neoplasms of breast 2,999 6
Malignant neoplasm of colon, sigmoid, rectum & anus 2,905 7 Malignant neoplasm of colon, sigmoid, rectum and anus 2,515 7
Malignant neoplasms of lymphoid, haematopoietic & related tissue 2,705 8 Diabetes 2,110 8
Diabetes 2,546 9 Malignant neoplasms of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue 1,907 9
Intentional self-harm    2,320 10 Diseases of the urinary system 1,859 10
Malignant neoplasm of pancreas 1,596 11 Heart failure and complications and ill-defined heart disease 1,795 11
Diseases of the urinary system 1,525 12 Influenza and pneumonia 1,676 12
Accidental falls 1,428 13 Cardiac arrhythmias 1,525 13
Influenza and pneumonia 1,426 14 Accidental falls 1,524 14
Melanoma and other malignant neoplasms of skin  1,416 15 Malignant neoplasm of pancreas 1,481 15
Malignant neoplasm of liver & intrahepatic bile ducts 1,414 16 Hypertensive diseases 1,336 16
Heart failure and complications & ill-defined heart disease 1,397 17 Malignant neoplasm of ovary 968 17
Cirrhosis and other diseases of liver 1,248 18 Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue 839 18
Parkinson's disease 1,172 19 Nonrheumatic valve disorders 823 19
Malignant neoplasm of oesophagus 987 20 Septicaemia 757 20

Data by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status is available for New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory; Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have been excluded due to concerns by the ABS regarding the accuracy of the data. On that basis, in 2018 there were 3,218 deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

The leading cause of death among Indigenous persons was Ischaemic heart disease, as it is with the total Australian population; however the rate per 100,000 was 117.3 (154.0 in 2009) compared to 58.6 for non-Indigenous persons.

The second leading cause of Indigenous death was Diabetes with a rate of 75.1 per 100,000 compared to 15.2 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous people (Diabetes is ranked 7th for the total population).

For Indigenous males, suicide was ranked 2nd compared to 10th for non-Indigenous males. For Indigenous males, the rate has been increasing; 25.8 per 100,000 in 2009, 33.7 in 2013 and reached 38.1 per 100,000 in 2018 (compared to 19.2 for non-Indigenous males). For Indigenous women, suicide was ranked 7th compared to 23rd for non-Indigenous women.

Table 3: top 20 leading causes of death by Indigenous and non-Indigenous status, 2018

Cause of death Indigenous non-Indigenous
No. Rank Rate No. Rank Rate
All causes of death 3,218 .. 927.1 109,753 .. 539.3
Ischaemic heart diseases 390 1 117.3 8,973 1 58.6
Diabetes 232 2 72.1 7,264 8 15.2
Chronic lower respiratory diseases 225 3 77.3 5,808 5 26.0
Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung 204 4 58.5 3,839 4 28.6
Intentional self-harm 169 5 24.1 3,586 12 12.4
Dementia, including Alzheimer disease 108 6 60.3 2,999 2 47.6
Cirrhosis and other diseases of liver 108 6 23.2 2,515 22 6.7
Cerebrovascular diseases 105 8 44.4 2,110 3 34.0
Land transport accidents 84 9 12.9 1,907 30 5.0
Accidental poisoning 78 10 13.6 1,859 32 5.1
Symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions 76 11 17.2 1,795 18 7.9
Malignant neoplasm of colon, sigmoid, rectum & anus 71 12 23.0 1,676 6 18.6
Diseases of the urinary system 66 13 24.9 1,525 10 11.0
Malignant neoplasm of liver & intrahepatic bile ducts 58 14 15.2 1,524 21 6.9
Certain conditions originating in the perinatal period 57 15 4.5 1,481 43 2.1
Malignant neoplasm of pancreas 53 16 14.8 1,336 11 10.2
Influenza and pneumonia 47 17 14.9 968 14 10.2
Malignant neoplasms of breast 40 18 12.8 839 15 10.3
Malignant neoplasms of lymphoid, haematopoietic & related tissue 40 18 9.3 823 7 15.6
Heart failure and complications and ill-defined heart disease 32 20 10.3 757 13 10.2

Note: Rates presented in this table have been calculated using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population estimates and projections based on the 2016 Census, and are per 100,000 population.

In 2018 there were 3,046 registered deaths of people who died due to intentional self-harm (suicide). The standardised death rate was 12.1 deaths per 100,000 people. Death rates recorded over the five years from 2014 to 2018 have been between 11.9 (2016) and 12.9 (2015) deaths per 100,000 people.

The chart below uses customised data from the ABS to show the crude rate of suicide (the number of deaths registered during the reference year per 100,000 estimated resident population at 30 June) by current Commonwealth Electoral Divisions. The Division of Flynn in Queensland recorded the highest rate of suicide in 2018 with 26.7 per 100,000 population (compared to 9.2 in 2003, 15 years prior). Other electorates also recorded high suicide rates: Lingiari in the NT (22.0), O’Connor and Hasluck in WA (21.0 and 20.9) and in Qld; Rankin, Kennedy, Leichhardt and Hinkler (20.9, 20.9, 20.3 and 20.0 rate per 100,000 population).

Those with the lowest rates included: Berowra in NSW (3.1 per 100,000), Calwell, Bruce and Hotham in Vic (4.3, 4.5 and 4.9) and Fowler and Parramatta in NSW (both with 5.1).

Chart 1: intentional self-harm (suicide deaths) rates per 100,000 by top 20 Commonwealth Electoral Divisions, 2003 and 2018

Clients of the Parliamentary Library can request assistance to interpret the statistics, obtain suicide data by Commonwealth Electoral Divisions from 2003 to 2018 or to find other relevant data.

Source:

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2018, cat no. 3303.0, Customised data, ABS, 2019

Footnote:

  1. Causes of death data for 2018 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process.
  2. Cells with small values have been randomly adjusted to protect the confidentiality of individuals. As a result, some totals will not equal the sum of their components. Cells with a zero value have not been affected by confidentialisation.
Tags: health, death, ABS, suicide
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