Australia Editor's Picks Health

Heart disease remains Australia’s leading cause of deaths in 2018

CANBERRA, Australia: Heart disease is still the number one cause of death among Australians according to a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The leading cause of death was followed by dementia, stroke, lung cancer and lower respiratory diseases.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday reported there were 158,493 deaths in Australia last year, a drop in the number and rate of death compared to 2017.

Heart disease killed 17,533 Australians in 2018 ie about 48 every day.

Despite being the leading cause of death, the standardised death rate from heart disease has decreased by 22.4% since 2009 according to the ABS.

And declines in heart disease mortality have been observed for more than 50 years, the report added.

Meanwhile, cancers accounted for more than 30 per cent of all deaths in 2018, with lung cancer remaining the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women.

Prostate cancer and breast cancer were the sixth-ranked cause for men and women, accounting for 3,264 and 2,999 deaths respectively.

According to the report, suicide was the leading cause of death among people 15 to 44 years of age, though it had moved from the 13th to the 14th spot within Australia’s top 20 causes of death.

In 2018, 3,046 Australians died by suicide ie more than eight people per day.

In response, the Prime Minister’s National Suicide Prevention adviser, Christine Morgan, said in a statement: “This number represents our loved ones, who live in our diverse communities in each state and territory, rural and remote and in our suburban towns.

“They are our family members — a friend or colleague whose life is precious to every one of us, and whose life and death leaves a lasting effect on us all.

“One life lost to suicide is too many, which is why our commitment is towards zero.

“The suicide rate for our First Australians remains distressingly high. The rate of death by suicide of [Aboriginal] and Torres Strait Islander people remains close to twice the rate for non-Indigenous Australians,” she added.

ABS health statistics director James Eynstone-Hinkins said there were more than three deaths a day in 2018 where opioid drugs were a factor.

Of the 1,123 opioid drug-related deaths, the most common were accidental overdoses among middle-aged men.

Deaths associated with heroin have been increasing since the year 2000, with 438 heroin-induced deaths recorded in 2018.

But in the past two years a decrease in deaths relating to natural and semi-synthetic opioids has seen the overall opioid-induced death rate fall marginally, the report said.

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