What’s Killing Us?: A Postmortem of Key Statistics
Analyzing statistics on deaths and their causes can provide pivotal information about the health of a population. Explaining the underlying cause of death, the patterns and trends, is important because it points to where intervention can be targeted.
So what do the 2013 statistics from the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Taiwan tell us?
Taiwanese people can expect to live longer than ever before
The average life expectancy in 2013 was 79.9 years, 76.7 years for men and 83.3 years for women, an increase of 0.4%, 0.3% and 0.4% respectively from the previous year.
Fewer people are dying
In 2013, a total of 154,374 deaths were reported in Taiwan. The standardized mortality rate was 435.3 deaths per 100,000 population which was3.4%lower than the previous year. Deaths to men were more common than women.
The biggest decline in standardized mortality rate was observed for chronic lower respiratory disease which was 9.5% lower, followed by pneumonia 7.8%and accidents 5.9%.
Cancer continues to be the most deadly cause of death
The ten leading causes of death remained relatively unchanged in 2013, although diabetes replaced pneumonia in fourth place. The ten leading causes of death for 2013 were: (1) malignant tumors(2)heart disease(3) cerebrovascular disease(4) diabetes mellitus(5) pneumonia(6) accidents(7)chronic lower respiratory disease(8)hypertension-related chronic ailments(9)chronic liver disease and(10)cirrhosis, and kidney diseases. Suicide remained just outside the top 10 causes of death in 2013, at a standardized annual mortality rate of 12 per 100,000, 8.4%lower than the previous year.
Chronic diseases are slow acting silent killers
Out of the ten leading causes of death, seven were chronic diseases. Chronic diseases were responsible for 64.2% of all deaths.
Lung cancer is the most likely of cancers to take your breath away
Cancer caused a total of 44,791 deaths, accounting for 29% of all deaths in 2013. The ten leading cancers were tumors of the lung, liver, colon and rectum, breast, oral cavity, prostate, stomach, pancreas, esophagus and cervix.
Malignant tumors were the major cause of death for the 1-14 age group, accidents for the15-24 age group, and cancer for those aged 25 or more.
So we know what kills us…now we need to act on what we know. How many deaths are preventable? Chronic diseases cause two-thirds of deaths in Taiwan. How can we invest resources, implement clinical preventative measures, or coordinate with health care systems within our communities to help people live long and healthy lives? With the growing ageing population, how can pharmacists make a ‘graying’ future brighter?