Causes of death, 2019


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently released the 2019 Causes of Death (cat no. 3303.0) report which provided detailed information on the number and nature of deaths in Australia in 2019.

According to the ABS report:

In 2019, there were 169,301 registered and received deaths in Australia and the number one cause of death was Ischaemic heart disease with 18,244 deaths (10.8 per cent of all deaths). Even though the leading cause, the age-standardised death rate from Ischaemic heart disease has decreased by 34.6 per cent since 2010.

Dementia (including Alzheimer's disease), remained the second leading cause of death. Deaths due to dementia have increased by 66.8 per cent since 2010 (from 9,003 to 15,016).

Cerebrovascular diseases, Cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung and Chronic lower respiratory diseases round out the top five leading causes.

The top five leading causes of death accounted for more than one-third of all registered deaths (35.7 per cent).

Influenza and pneumonia was the ninth 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 (in 2010 it was ranked 15th).

Intentional self-harm was the 13th leading cause of death, with the lowest median age at death at 43.9.

Table 1: Top 20 leading causes of death, 2010 and 2019

Leading causes of death (Name and ICD-10 code) 2010 2019 Median age
years: 2019
No. Rank No. Rank
Ischaemic heart diseases (I20-I25) 21 721 1 18 244 1 84.0
Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (F01, F03, G30) 9 003 3 15 016 2 89.1
Cerebrovascular diseases (I60-I69) 11 200 2 9 891 3 86.3
Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung (C33, C34) 8 102 4 8 821 4 74.3
Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40-J47) 6 129 5 8 372 5 80.7
Malignant neoplasm of colon, sigmoid, rectum and anus (C18-C21, C26.0) 5 247 6 5 410 6 77.6
Diabetes (E10-E14) 3 948 7 4 967 7 82.0
Malignant neoplasms of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue (C81-C96) 3 936 8 4 793 8 78.5
Influenza and pneumonia (J09-J18) 2 373 15 4 124 9 88.8
Diseases of the urinary system (N00-N39) 3 315 10 3 903 10 87.2
Heart failure and complications and ill-defined heart disease (I50-I51) 3 470 9 3 648 11 88.6
Malignant neoplasm of prostate (C61) 3 236 11 3 611 12 82.4
Intentional self-harm (X60-X84, Y87.0) 2 480 13 3 318 13 43.9
Accidental falls (W00-W19) 1 691 18 3 298 14 87.4
Malignant neoplasms of breast (C50) 2 866 12 3 261 15 72.3
Malignant neoplasm of pancreas (C25) 2 434 14 3 207 16 74.6
Cardiac arrhythmias (I47-I49) 1 532 21 2 408 17 89.1
Malignant neoplasm of liver and intrahepatic bile ducts (C22) 1 337 23 2 204 18 71.9
Hypertensive diseases (I10-I15) 1 732 17 2 177 19 88.2
Cirrhosis and other diseases of liver (K70-K76) 1 590 19 2 111 20 65.0
All causes 143 473 .. 168 960 .. ..

Males and females

There were 88,346 male deaths in 2019 and 80,955 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 10,822 deaths (ranked 2nd for women), for women it was Dementia with 9,592 deaths. For the first time Dementia has moved into second place for men, overtaking lung cancer deaths.

Breast cancer was the 6th leading cause among females, accounting for 3,230 deaths and Prostate cancer was the 6th ranked cause of death for males, accounting for 3,611 deaths.

For external causes such as accidental, assaults and suicide; Suicide was ranked 10th for men (and not in the top 20 for women) whilst Accidental falls were the highest ranked for females (13th).

Table 2: Top 20 leading causes of death by sex, 2019

Males No. Rank
Ischaemic heart diseases (I20-I25) 10 822 1
Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (F01, F03, G30) 5 424 2
Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung (C33, C34) 5 190 3
Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40-J47) 4 242 4
Cerebrovascular diseases (I60-I69) 4 089 5
Malignant neoplasm of prostate (C61) 3 611 6
Malignant neoplasm of colon, sigmoid, rectum and anus (C18-C21, C26.0) 2 932 7
Malignant neoplasms of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue (C81-C96) 2 783 8
Diabetes (E10-E14) 2 731 9
Intentional self-harm (X60-X84, Y87.0) 2 502 10
Diseases of the urinary system (N00-N39) 1 837 11
Influenza and pneumonia (J09-J18) 1 800 12
Malignant neoplasm of pancreas (C25) 1 699 13
Accidental falls (W00-W19) 1 647 14
Heart failure and complications and ill-defined heart disease (I50-I51) 1 600 15
Malignant neoplasm of liver and intrahepatic bile ducts (C22) 1 460 16
Melanoma and other malignant neoplasms of skin (C43-C44) 1 406 17
Cirrhosis and other diseases of liver (K70-K76) 1 362 18
Parkinson's disease (G20) 1 332 19
Land transport accidents (V01-V89, Y85) 1 079 20
Total male deaths 88 346 ..
Females No. Rank
Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (F01, F03, G30) 9 592 1
Ischaemic heart diseases (I20-I25) 7 422 2
Cerebrovascular diseases (I60-I69) 5 802 3
Chronic lower respiratory diseases (J40-J47) 4 130 4
Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung (C33, C34) 3 631 5
Malignant neoplasms of female breast (C50) 3 230 6
Malignant neoplasm of colon, sigmoid, rectum and anus (C18-C21, C26.0) 2 478 7
Influenza and pneumonia (J09-J18) 2 324 8
Diabetes (E10-E14) 2 236 9
Diseases of the urinary system (N00-N39) 2 066 10
Heart failure and complications and ill-defined heart disease (I50-I51) 2 048 11
Malignant neoplasms of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue (C81-C96) 2 010 12
Accidental falls (W00-W19) 1 651 13
Malignant neoplasm of pancreas (C25) 1 508 14
Cardiac arrhythmias (I47-I49) 1 458 15
Hypertensive diseases (I10-I15) 1 333 16
Malignant neoplasm of ovary (C56) 1 081 17
Nonrheumatic valve disorders (I34-I38) 920 18
Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (M00-M99) 894 19
Malignant neoplasm of uterus (C53-C55) 878 20
Total female deaths 80 955 ..

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

There were 3,435 registered deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2019 (1,885 males and 1,550 females).

The median age at death was 60.9 years, increasing from 57.1 years of age in 2010, considerably lower than the total population.

Ischaemic heart disease was the leading cause of death (405 deaths) for Indigenous people in 2019. Chronic lower respiratory disease (266) was the second leading cause of death, overtaking diabetes (239) for the first time.

Intentional self-harm

In 2019 there were 3,318 registered suicides deaths in Australia. Of these, 2,502 were male suicides and 816 were female suicide deaths. Of the 3,318 suicide deaths, 195 were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In 2019, the median age of death due to suicide was 43.9 years of age for males and 44.0 years of age for females, however for the Indigenous population, the median age was considerably lower, for males 30.5 and for females 27.0 years.

The age-standardised death rate was 12.9 per 100,000 in 2019 (11.2 in 2010), for males however, it had increased from 17.5 in 2010 to 19.8 in 2019. For females the rate was 6.3 per 100,000 in 2019 compared to 5.0 in 2010.

When comparing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous populations, the rates are double that of Non-Indigenous people (see Table 3). Indigenous males recorded a rate of 37.6 per 100,000 compared to 19.3 for non-Indigenous males. Likewise for females, the rate for Indigenous females was 12.1 compared to 6.0 for non-Indigenous females.

Table 3: Age-standardised death rates for suicide by Indigenous status sex, 2015-2019

Sex Indigenous Non-Indigenous
Males 37.6 19.3
Females 12.1 6.0
Persons 24.6 12.5

Note: Data reported in this table are compiled by jurisdiction of usual residence for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory only. Data for Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory are excluded.

 

Source:

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2019

Footnote:

1. Causes of death data for 2019 are preliminary and subject to a revisions process. Data for 2010 has been finalised.

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