Causes of death and disability, incidence and deaths with age

How does incidence of and deaths by various causes vary with age? This report uses WHO Global Burden of Disease (GBD) data to work it out.

It currently only examines the high-income countries.

plot of chunk causes_with_age_graphsplot of chunk causes_with_age_graphs

This graph shows how the incidence of and deaths caused by different age-related diseases varies with age. Most of them follow an exponential-ish distribution, remaining relatively flat for most of life and increasing very rapidly in old age.

Alzheimer's has a particularly strong association with age. The WHO rates it as having zero incidence up to and including the 35 to 39 age group; its incidence in the 55 to 59 category is 44. per 100,000; and between the ages of 55 and 90 its incidence doubles every 4.61 years.

This table shows how much more likely an 80-year-old is than a 30-year-old to experience a certain cause of death or disability:

cause incidence ratio
Alzheimer disease and other dementias Inf
Cerebrovascular disease 69.9
Chronic kidney disease 51.6
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 12.8
Cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases 9.87
Diabetes mellitus 0.890
Diarrheal diseases 1.82
Ischemic heart disease 47.9
Lower respiratory infections 6.41
Neoplasms 27.4
Self-harm 1.42
Transport injuries 1.46

Alzheimer's is infinite because the incidence at age 30 is zero. Diabetes has around the same incidence because both 30 and 80 are in the tails of the incidence distribution—most people get diabetes in middle age if they're going to.

cause death ratio
Alzheimer disease and other dementias Inf
Cerebrovascular disease 269.
Chronic kidney disease 182.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 887.
Cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases 26.2
Diabetes mellitus 139.
Diarrheal diseases 225.
Ischemic heart disease 312.
Lower respiratory infections 184.
Neonatal disorders NaN
Neoplasms 120.
Self-harm 1.81
Transport injuries 2.11

Alzheimer's is infinite because the death rate at age 30 is zero, and neonatal problems is not a number because they obviously affect neither 30- nor 80-year-olds.

About this report

This report was generated from an R script which performs the underlying calculations. The code and console output have been removed to make it easier to read. If you want to see the code, you can check out the latest version at GitHub, and if you want to view the console output, see causes-with-age.txt.