(A full list of the causes of the deaths and the ages at which they
occurred is given in Table IV in the Appendix.)
On analysis it is found that there was a decrease in the number of
deaths from all the chief causes.
HEART AND CIRCULATORY DISEASE.
The death rate from heart and other circulatory diseases showed a
slight decrease on last year's figure. As this group is largely composed
of deaths occurring in elderly people from what is really old age, it is
always hoped that the proportion coming under this heading will remain
relatively high. The slight decrease in 1948 associated with a marked
decrease in the crude general death rate suggests that the distribution of
age groups is returning to pre-war proportions, although with some bias
in favour of the higher age groups.
In 1948, 77 per cent, of deaths from heart disease, etc., were over
65 years of age at the time of death (a decrease of 4 per cent, on 1947),
while 40 per cent, were over 75 years of age. Similarly, of deaths from
all causes, over 64 per cent, were over 65 years of age, which is slightly
more than last year.
The cancer death rate for the year 1948 was 1.47, which is an appreciable
reduction on the rate for 1947, which was 1.89.
This rate has tended to increase more or less steadily since 1920
partly owing to better notification, but in part due to a true increase in
some forms of the disease. The decrease this year may be only due to
one of the fluctuations which is liable to occur when dealing with comparatively
small numbers and it will be interesting in this respect to note the
rate next year.
The following table gives the age, sex and distribution of the disease
in the 92 deaths which occurred during 1948. A welcome decrease in
the number of fatal cases of breast cancer is noted, but there was a further
slight increase in the proportion of cases of cancer of the lungs, particularly
in males. The numbers concerned are so small, however, that
generalisations must be avoided.