Drug-induced deaths at highest point since 1990s, heart disease in decline

Drug-induced deaths at highest point since 1990s, heart disease in decline”

Drug deaths have reached their highest level in two decades but the profile has changed from younger people overdosing from heroin to middle-aged Australians dying from the misuse of prescription drugs.

The number of deaths as a result of methamphetamines and ice quadrupled since 1999, the ABS reported.

There has been a significant increase in the number of drug related deaths since 2011, coinciding with an increase in the illicit use of prescription medication.

Despite the rising threat of drugs, heart disease remained Australia's most common cause of death, responsible for 62.4 of every 100,000 deaths, down from 99.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2007.

But suicide remains the biggest killer of Australians aged 15-44 years of age, and remains the leading cause of premature mortality in Australia, data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows. As death rates from heart disease and stroke decrease, other diseases such as dementia, which includes Alzheimer's disease, continue to increase.

Dementia was the second leading cause of death in 2016 with 13,126 deaths, 8.3% of all deaths.

In its report released on Tuesday, the ABS said the infant mortality rate was at a record low, with 3.1 deaths recorded per 1,000 live births.

Cancer accounted for nearly 30 per cent of Australian deaths in 2016, with lung cancer responsible for the greatest number.

Breast cancer was the sixth ranked cause for women, while prostate cancer was the sixth ranked for men.

"In 2016, dementia became the leading cause of death among Australian women", Mr Eynstone-Hinkins said.

Diabetes is Australia's seventh leading cause of death, accounting for 3.0 per cent of all deaths in 2016.

Suicide was the fifth leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, behind heart disease, diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases and lung cancer.

Death rates from ischaemic heart disease have been declining for more than 40 years yet remains the leading cause of death.

The rate of deaths by suicide dropped slightly in 2016 from a high in 2015, but still accounted for 11.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

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