Issues Magazine

Heart Disease Deaths Still Falling, but Dementia on the Rise


Australian Bureau of Statistics

Deaths from heart disease have fallen steadily since 2003, while deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease continue to increase, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

“Heart disease is still the leading cause of death, with 20,046 deaths in 2012, however this has fallen steadily since 2003. Heart disease accounted for 14% of all deaths in 2012 compared to 19% of all deaths in 2003,” said James Eynstone-Hinkins, ABS Director of the Health and Vitals Statistics Unit.

“There were 10,779 deaths from cerebrovascular diseases (including haemorrhages, strokes, infarctions and blocked arteries of the brain) in 2012, making these the second most common cause of death.

“Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was the third leading cause of death, accounting for 10,369 or 7% of all deaths in 2012. Most (95%) of these deaths occurred in people aged 75 or over.

“For women, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has overtaken cerebrovascular diseases as the second leading cause of death in 2012, while breast cancer remained the sixth most common cause of death.

“For men, lung cancer remains the second leading cause of death. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is now the fifth leading cause, replacing prostate cancer, which is now ranked sixth for males.

“Suicide was the fourteenth most common cause of death in 2012 overall, but remains the tenth leading cause for men. Suicide is the leading cause of death for males and females aged between 15 and 44.

“Overall, the death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was double that of non-indigenous Australians. The leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was heart disease, with diabetes ranked as the second leading cause.” said Mr Eynstone-Hinkins.

Further details can be found in Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0), available for free download from the ABS website.