Last updated June 6, 2018 at 1:23 pm
Research shows we have a high chance of making it to our 70s.
Our risk of dying during middle age has dropped substantially in the last 50 years, especially from cardiovascular diseases, according to new research.
Analysis by Monash University shows that Australians in their 20s now have an almost 90% chance of surviving until they are 70, up from just a 54-72% per cent in the 1960s.
There is a downside to this, of course. As we live longer, disability rates in older Australians are projected to double between 2006 and 2031, and the researchers warn that this has implications for prevention policy that are not fully appreciated by policy makers and the public.
Their study analysed data from the Human Mortality Database to simulate cohorts of 100,000 people experiencing the population mortality rates for 10-year intervals from 1960 to 2010. The probabilities of surviving to age 70 were modelled by subtracting the estimated numbers of deaths in each age band according to the age-specific death rates applicable during the 10-year interval.
The researchers also examined the major causes of death using data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare General Record of Incidence of Mortality database, and made some interesting discoveries.
Sharp decline in death from CVD
Applying 1960 mortality rates, 29% of men and 16% of women died of cardiovascular disease (CVD) before age 70, compared with 5% of men and 2% of women with 2010 rates.
“That is, the estimated number of people who would have died of CVD had declined between 1960 and 2010 by 85% for men and 88% for women,” they write in an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia. “Cancer mortality has also declined (by 21% in men, 22% in women), but the greater decline in CVD mortality means that cancer-related deaths have exceeded CVD deaths in men since the 2000s and in women since the 1990s.”
The authors suggest that the high levels of morbidity among older Australians highlight the need for preventive measures that reduce disease burden and minimise the broader impacts of an ageing population.
“Disability, dementia and comorbidities are prevalent in this age group and substantially reduce quality of life. In 2012, 53% of the 3.3 million Australians aged 65 years or more had some form of disability, compared with 16% of those aged 25-64 years.
“While the disability rate among older Australians has been relatively steady since 1981, projections based on 1998 prevalence rates predict that the absolute number of older people with profound disabilities will double between 2006 and 2031.”