ONS suggests that one in four deaths are ‘avoidable’

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ONS suggests that one in four deaths are ‘avoidable’

“1 in 4 deaths could have been prevented,” The Times reports. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 23% of deaths could have been prevented through better care, more effective treatment and healthier living.

The news is based on an ONS bulletin titled Avoidable Mortality in England and Wales, 2012 (PDF 186kb).

The bulletin provides mortality figures for causes of death that are considered avoidable if timely and effective healthcare is received or healthier lifestyle choices adopted.

Figures were provided for the period 2001 to 2012 so that trends can be seen.

The bulletin found that deaths from potentially avoidable causes accounted for about 23% of all registered deaths in England and Wales in 2012. While one avoidable death is one too many, there was a downward trend as this rate has fallen from 25% in 2003.

The report also found that:

•avoidable death rates were higher in Wales than England
•the leading causes of avoidable deaths were ischaemic heart disease (the most common type of heart disease) in males, and lung cancer in females
•the neoplasms (cancers and non-cancerous abnormal tissue growths) that are considered to be avoidable have overtaken cardiovascular diseases as the leading cause of avoidable deaths since 2007

According to the report, a degree of caution should be used when interpreting the findings. This is due to factors such as advances in healthcare and policy not being reflected in mortality rates in the short term.

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