Dementia now the second leading cause of death

The ABS has released their 2013 report on causes of death in Australia – which looks at the 147,678 deaths reported in 2013 and presents a full picture of mortality patterns across the population.


"Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Australia, accounting for almost 20,000 deaths in 2013," said James Eynstone-Hinkins from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).


"However, deaths from Dementia and Alzheimer's disease have been increasing in number for many years, and now outrank Cerebrovascular diseases as the second leading cause of death of Australians.


"There were 11,000 deaths from Dementia and Alzheimer's in 2013, an increase of over five per cent in the past year and over 30 percent in the past five years.


"Advancements in treatment of circulatory diseases have decreased the number of deaths from these conditions. As life expectancy increases (now at 80.1 years for males and 84.3 years for females) it is likely the number of deaths from dementia will continue to grow.


"These large scale shifts in patterns of mortality provide critical insights into the multitude of factors which impact on the health of Australians.


"Cancer deaths have also outnumbered deaths from circulatory diseases for the first time in 2013.


"There were over 8,000 Australians who died from lung cancer in 2013, a 13 per cent increase since 2004. Colon cancer, blood cancers, prostate, breast, pancreatic and skin cancers were all among Australia's 20 leading causes of death."


The report found there were more male deaths than female deaths in 2013 (75,782 and 71,896 respectively) and some key differences in leading causes.


"There were 4,995 male deaths from lung cancer, making this the second leading cause for men." said Mr Eynstone-Hinkins


"Among females, lung cancer caused 3,222 deaths making it the fifth leading cause. Dementia and Alzheimer's was the second leading cause for females accounting for 7,277 deaths, compared to only 3,656 deaths among males.


"Prostate cancer was the underlying cause of 3,112 male deaths, while breast cancer caused 2,862 female deaths, with both ranked as the sixth leading cause respectively.“


Suicide was once again the leading cause of death for Australian's aged 15 to 44.


Suicide accounted for 2,520 deaths in 2013 at a standardised death rate of 10.7 per 100,000 people. The median age at death for suicides is lower than for many other causes at 44.5 years of age. As a result, suicide accounted for over 85,000 years of life lost making it the leading cause of premature death in Australia.


Comprehensive data and analysis can be found in Causes of Death, Australia, at, available for free download from the ABS website


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31 March 2015.