Main causes of death among Swedish women born 1914 and 1918: 32-year follow-up of the Population Study of Women in Gothenburg
Dominique Hange,1 Jóhann Ag Sigurdsson,2 Cecilia Björkelund,1 Leif Lapidus,3 Calle Bengtsson1
1Department of Public Health and Community Medicine/Primary Health Care, the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; 2Department of Family Medicine, University of Iceland and Centre of Development, Primary Health Care of the Capital Area, Reykjavík, Iceland; 3Institute of Medicine, the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
Background: Coronary heart disease has been reported to be the major cause of death of postmenopausal women in industrialized countries. The risk for women of dying from myocardial infarction is significantly greater than the risk of dying from cancer. The aim of this study was to compare previous observations regarding causes of death with the results from the Population Study of Women in Gothenburg. We also examined how causes of deaths vary among different age cohorts.
Methods: This follow-up report based on the prospective observational Population Study of Women in Gothenburg, Sweden was confined to mortality in two age cohorts: 180 women born in 1914 and 398 women born in 1918. These women were representative of the female population in Gothenburg in these age groups. Women were followed for 32 years, from 1968–1969 to 2000–2001. During the follow-up period, data on mortality were obtained from the population registry and the Cause of Death Register. Women’s death certificates were also examined.
Results: In women aged between 60 and 80 years, cancer accounted for 30% of deaths, myocardial infarction for 19%, and stroke for 14%. In women who died after the age of 80 years, myocardial infarction was a more common cause of death than cancer.
Conclusions: Cancer accounts for most years lost from a woman’s normal life span. Myocardial infarction was a more common cause of death than cancer only in women above the age of 80 years. Although myocardial infarction is a common cause of death among women, cancer is a more common cause of death at younger ages. This should be emphasized when planning care, prevention, and research involving women’s health.
Keywords: causes of death, mortality, population study, women
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