Death rates, also referred to as mortality rates, are frequently used as indicators of the overall health of a population. Trends in mortality can illustrate the health problems in our community that have the biggest impact on the population.
Changes in mortality rates over time may be due to several different factors taking place in the community such as changes in our standard of living, the environment or other social determinants of health. Changes may also be due to access to quality health care, improved diagnosis and treatment of illness or the emergence of new health issues not seen before. Health protection and promotion efforts, such as those related to smoking prevention and cessation, may also have an important impact on mortality rates in populations. Rates of leading causes of death indicate which diseases affect a community in the biggest way. Looking at the age and sex of people who die from each disease gives an idea of who is affected most by each cause of death.
Using data from 2005 to 2007, life expectancy at birth in Middlesex-London residents was 81.2 years. From the year 2000 to 2007, Middlesex-London has seen a steady decline in mortality rates with an overall decrease of 17% as well as an increase in life expectancy. Ontario and Middlesex-London’s Peer Group (a group of Health Unit areas with similar demographic profiles) showed a similar trend over this time period. Although Middlesex-London’s mortality rates were somewhat higher than Ontario’s, this difference was not statistically significant. Compared to the Peer Group, however, Middlesex-London’s mortality rates over time were significantly lower.
Although life expectancy for males was lower than females and the mortality rate for males was higher than for females, the decline in mortality rates over time for males has been greater. This has resulted in a slight narrowing of the gap in death rates between the sexes.
Chronic diseases accounted for all of the top 10 leading causes of death in Middlesex-London during the 2005 to 2007 time period. Ischemic heart disease was the leading cause of death with more than twice as many deaths as the next most common cause which was lung cancer. The third and fourth leading causes of death were cerebrovascular disease (including stroke), and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Middlesex-London females were about 20% more likely to die from breast cancer and about 20% less likely to die from diabetes than their Ontario counterparts. None of the other leading causes of death for females or males, however, were significantly different from Ontario as a whole.
The leading causes of death for children under age 12 were perinatal conditions and birth defects. Motor vehicle collisions caused the most deaths amongst youth ages 12 to 19. Young to middle-aged adults aged 20-44 died most frequently due to suicide, followed by breast cancer and motor vehicle collisions for females, and motor vehicle collisions and unintentional injuries for males. The leading causes of death for middle-aged adults (45-64) were primarily chronic diseases with the exception of suicide for males. Seniors aged 65 and older died most commonly due to chronic diseases.
Males were much more likely to die prematurely than females in Middlesex-London, generally reflecting higher rates of deaths in males at younger ages. Deaths due to breast cancer and lung cancer were the most common cause of premature death for females in Middlesex-London; whereas for males it was ischemic heart disease.