• Trends in national mortality rates •  

Graphs showing time trends in mortality rates

Female mortality at age 35-69 years, overall and for

selected causes of death: Australia, 1952-2004

Graph showing Australian mortality, 1952-2003

Comment: Much of the decline in all-cause mortality over the past half-century is accounted for by the decline in stroke and (especially) coronary heart disease mortality. Remarkably, in 2004 coronary heart disease (29 per 100 000) was only the third most common cause of death among Australian middle-aged women, already then following in the wake of breast cancer (39 per 100 000) and lung cancer (30 per 100 000). Just a decade earlier, coronary heart disease was still by some margin the most common cause (see next graph). All of the specific causes of death on this graph are strongly smoking-related, except for breast cancer, which has been added for interest. (CHD and stroke, however, also have other major causes besides smoking.)

Method: Mortality rates calculated using data from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Population Division, then standardised for age (by taking unweighted averages of component rates) and smoothed (as weighted 3-year moving averages). For details, see the Info page.

Caution: Trends can reflect not only changes in disease occurrence or treatment, but also changes in how a cause of death is defined or coded.

WHO mortality rates for particular countries, ages and causes of death