Dementia-related deaths on the rise: ABS

Heart disease is still Australia’s number one killer, but dementia-related deaths are moving up the ladder.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found more than 160,000 people died in the country last year, well before the coronavirus pandemic hit, a rise of 6.8 per cent from 2018.

Ischaemic heart disease was the leading cause of death for all Australians, accounting for 10.8 per cent of all deaths in 2019, the ABS reported on Friday.

But when the data is broken down further, dementia including Alzheimer’s disease has overtaken lung cancer as the second leading cause of death for men and the main cause of death for women.

ABS Director of Health and Vital Statistics James Eynstone-Hinkins said dementia accounted for just over 15,000 of the total 169,301 deaths recorded last 2019. 

“For all Australians, heart disease, dementia, strokes, lung cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases (which includes emphysema), made up the top five leading causes of death,” he said in a statement.

Nevertheless, the number of dementia deaths has now increased by 67 per cent over the past 10 years.

Of cancer-related deaths, lung cancer was the most common cause, followed by colon cancer, blood and lymph cancers, prostate and breast cancer. 

All cancers combined accounted for 49,432 deaths in 2019.

In another grim statistic, the ABS found suicide to be the leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 49, and accounted for the highest number of years of life lost. 

In 2019, suicide deaths occurred at a rate of 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people and it ranks at 13 in the top 20 list of the leading causes of death in Australia.

Also, last year’s severe flu season saw influenza and pneumonia rise from 12th to ninth place in 2019, accounting for 4,124 deaths.


* Ischaemic heart disease

* Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease

* Cerebrovascular disease

* Malignant neoplasm of trachea, bronchus and lung

* Chronic lower respiratory disease

* Malignant neoplasm of colon, rectum and anus

* Diabetes

* Malignant neoplasm of lymphoid, haematopoietic and related tissue

* Influenza and pneumonia

* Diseases of the urinary system

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