Life expectancy increasing

  • Niall Hunter, Editor

The life expectancy of Irish people has seen a rapid and unprecedented increase in the past 10 years, according to a new Department of Health report.

The report shows while death rates from many diseases are declining, there are significant issues with the level of chronic disease and obesity in younger people.

During this time, life expectancy in Ireland has increased from one year just below the EU average life expectancy to just above it.

Life expectancy for Irish men is currently 76.8 years while it is 81.6 years for women. This compares to 64.5 and 67.1 years respectively 60 years ago.

Birth numbers in Ireland in 2010 showed a 1% decrease on the previous year, at 73,724 births; however, this is 15,000 more births annually than a decade ago.

The report on health trends in Ireland shows that 84% of Irish males and 83% of females rate their health as being good or very good. This is the highest health status self-rating figure in the EU.

However, the report shows significant chronic health problems in older age groups, with around half of those aged 65 and over reporting a chronic illness or condition.

The report also points ot that 26% of nine-year-old children in Ireland have a body mass index (BMI) that is outside the 'healthy' range.

Of these, 19% were defined as overweight and 7% as obese.

Death rates from diseases of the circulatory system such as heart disease have declined by 39% since 2001, according to the report.

There has been a 15% decline in death rates from cancer over the past 10 years and deaths from suicide have declined by 19% since 2001. The female breast cancer death rate declined by 24% during the same period.

The death rate in Ireland from all cancers, however, was 7.7% above the EU average in 2009, according to the report.

Hospital activity levels increased over the past decade, with inpatient discharges rising by 10% since 2001, according to the report. However, they remained static between 2009 and 2010.

However, day cases increased by 119% since 2001 and have increased by 4.7% between 2009 and 2010.

While health service spending increased overall by 73% since 2002, it has decreased by 5.2% between 2010 and 2011.

The number of people with medical cards increased by over 9% between 2009 and 2010.

Ireland has a slightly higher caesarean section rate in maternity hospitals than the EU average.


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