heart surgery
IN PHOTO: Malek, a two-and-a-half year old Palestinian girl from the West Bank village of Bidiya, undergoes heart surgery at an Israeli hospital in Holon, near Tel Aviv, October 21, 2007. "Save A Child's Heart" (SACH) is an Israeli-based, international humanitarian organization providing life-saving heart surgeries for children from developing countries in Israel. Close to half of the total number of children treated at SACH are Palestinian or from Arab countries including Jordan and Iraq. Picture taken October 21, 2007. REUTERS/Yonathan Weitzman

According to a new data released on Oct 7, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, or AIHW said, almost 50,000 deaths in 2012 could be considered premature. Deaths occurring under the age of 75 is considered premature, and about 34 percent of the population were affected, said the report.

AIHW is a major national agency set up by the government of Australia to provide regular, reliable as well as relevant information and statistics on Australia's welfare, particularly health. The premature mortality data from 1997-2012 showed that there was a possibility these deaths could have been avoided - that is treatable or preventable in half of the cases through specific health care measures.

There is a fall in the rate of these deaths in the recent years. In 1997, 43 percent of the deaths were among people less than 75 years, but in 2012, this had fallen to 34 percent. “The good news is that there has been a substantial decrease in the rate of premature deaths over time,” said AIHW spokesperson Ann Hunt.

In 2010-2012, the major cause of premature deaths was coronary heart disease that accounted for 10 percent of all deaths. Coronary heart disease is also the leading cause of deaths in Australia overall, accounting for 14 percent of deaths across all ages in 2010–2012, with one in four (25 percent) of these deaths being premature.

The second leading cause was lung cancer that accounted for almost 9 percent of premature deaths. More than half of all the deaths that were due to lung cancer; it was among the people younger than 75.

Apart from that, the third-leading cause of premature mortality was suicide, which accounted for about 4.5 percent of the premature deaths, with 92 percent of suicide deaths occurring among people younger than 75, said the ajp.cpm.au report.

Eighty percent of all deaths in 2008-2012 were considered premature among Indigenous Australians and across every group; the Indigenous mortality rate was higher for both females and males. ‘Unlike chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease and lung cancer, suicide was a leading cause of death among younger age groups,’ Hunt added.

The AIHW media release comes with 15 General Record of Incidence of Mortality, or GRIM, books and 15 fact sheets, to delve deep at the string of causes of premature mortality. This includes diabetes, breast cancer, assault, accidental poisoning, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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