The bureau found 3020 Australians died from heart disease during the period, well down on the 3369 average of the past four years. Heart disease deaths have been falling for several decades.
It also found deaths from cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke was also down during the first three months of this year, to 2013 compared to an average of 2245.
But there have been spikes in a range of respiratory diseases, diabetes and dementia with many of these coming in the final week of March.
“Deaths in that last week of week of March from pneumonia, diabetes and dementia were higher than expected numbers based on historic averages,” the bureau’s health and vital statistics director James Eynstone-Hinkins said.
“It will be important to confirm whether those increases are sustained before drawing any conclusion from this data.”
The bureau found there were 2989 respiratory diseases through the start of the year compared to an average 2792. There were another 1653 deaths from chronic respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma compared to the longer term average of 1561.
Influenza and pneumonia deaths, which traditionally spike between May and September, were also well up on the average.
The bureau found 581 people had died from both conditions compared to the average of 538. It noted that influenza deaths had been “low and stable” but there had been a spike in pneumonia deaths, particularly in late March.
Cancer deaths, at 11,646, were above the average of 11,404 while another 1056 people died from diabetes compared to the average of 1012.
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, was the cause of 3474 deaths during the period, well above the average of 2979. The bureau said dementia deaths were above the five year average for every week of the first quarter of 2020.
The bureau also reported that among those to have died from COVID-19, the most common co-morbidity was hypertension, diabetes, cancer, dementia and chronic lower respiratory diseases.
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Shane is a senior economics correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.