Number of Scots dying from major diseases falls

Latest statistics show a reduction in deaths from cancer, coronary heart disease & respiratory diseases, though number of deaths still higher than average

Wednesday 13th March 2019

The number of deaths in Scotland attributable to cancer, coronary heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease all fell over the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The latest instalment of NRS statistics - Births, deaths and other vital events, fourth quarter 2018 – also shows the number of births registered in Scotland fell to their lowest levels since civil registration began in 1855.

There were 12,580 births and 14,484 deaths registered in Scotland between the 1st October and the 31st December 2018, according to the provisional figures published today.

There were 14,484 deaths in 2018 quarter 4, 4.7% lower than the same period last year, but 0.6% higher than the average of the last 5 years.

Compared with the same time period in 2017, the number of cancer deaths fell by 1.6% to 4,264. Deaths from coronary heart disease meanwhile, fell by 5.4% to 1,675, and the number of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease fell by 11.6% to 1,596.

There was a 1.3% decrease in the number of deaths from cerebrovascular disease (1,003 from the 1st October to the 31st December 2018).

Paul Lowe, the Registrar General for Scotland, said:

“Continuing the downward trend since 2008, the number of births for the fourth quarter of 2018 has been at its lowest number recorded since civil registration began. This is the second record-low number of quarterly births in a row, with quarter three also falling to its lowest level in 2018.

“The number of deaths fell compared to the recent peak recorded in the fourth quarter of 2017, but was slightly higher than the average of the previous five years”.

16.7% fall in respiratory disease deaths

The statistics also show deaths from respiratory diseases fell by 16.7% to 1,511 in the final quarter of 2018.

Commenting on the figures, head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, Joseph Carter, said:

These early figures show a fall in the number of people whose lives are cut short from lung disease, which is welcome.

However, this decrease occurs against a backdrop of overall high rates of lung disease in Scotland, so there is much more work to be done to bring forward the day where no-one is left breathless from lung disease.      

Although huge progress has been made over the last decade to tackle smoking and other major risk factors to lung health, lung disease remains one of Scotland’s biggest killers”, Mr Carter explains.

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that Scotland had the second highest avoidable mortality rate for lung disease in the UK, so we cannot be complacent about the scale of the challenge that lung disease poses to our NHS.

Reducing the number of deaths from lung disease requires a clear strategy to improve respiratory care in Scotland. We hope the Scottish Government will rise to this challenge when they publish the long-awaited respiratory care action plan later this year.”