Heart disease decreases, but remains top killer of Aussies


DEATHS from heart disease has dropped of 4% in the past decade, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed on Friday.

However, the disease continues to be the biggest killer of Australians, according to the World Health Organisation.

Heart disease accounted for 21,513 deaths in 2011, or 15% of all deaths that year, compared to 19% or 26,063 deaths in 2002, with Australians older than 75 most likely to succumb.

ABS health and vital statistics director James Eynstone-Hinkins said there were 9864 deaths from dementia and Alzheimer's disease in 2011, making up 7% of all deaths.

"Lung cancer made up 6% of all deaths and 19% of all deaths from cancer - making it the fourth leading cause of death for Australians in 2011," he said.

"Prostate cancer was the fifth most common cause of death for men. Among women, breast cancer is the sixth most common cause of death."

Mr Eynstone-Hinkins said there were also 1530 deaths from falls among people older than 75 - a four-fold increase from the 2002 figures of 365 such deaths.

He said suicide was the 15th most common cause of death in 2011, and the 10th leading cause for men.

"Males account for approximately three quarters of suicide deaths and it remains the leading cause of death for males aged 15-44," he said.

"Overall, the death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was almost double that of non-Indigenous Australians."

Among indigenous Australians, deaths from diabetes were the second most common cause of death.


Leading causes of death in Australia, 2011:

  1. Ischaemic heart diseases: 21,513 deaths
  2. Cerebrovascular diseases: 11,251 deaths
  3. Dementia and Alzheimer's: 9864 deaths
  4. Trachea, bronchus and lung cancer: 8114 deaths
  5. Chronic lower respiratory: 6570 deaths
  6. Diabetes: 4209
  7. Colon, sigmoid, rectum and anus cancer: 4087 deaths
  8. Blood and lymph cancer: 3978 deaths
  9. Heart failure: 3488 deaths
  10. Urinary system diseases: 3386 deaths

SOURCE: World Health Organisation, 2011.

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