Alarming mortality rates in young Scots

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The study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health obtained sex, age-specific and year-specific all-cause mortality rates, and explored differences in mortality both visually and numerically.

In the comparative analysis, Scots present with higher mortality risk in the latter half of the 20th century vs rest of the UK (rUK). The relative mortality advantage Scotland once had over the rest of the Western Europe (rWE) has now been lost.

The excess deaths per 100,000 population rose from 4341 in the 1950s to 7203 in 2000s vs rUK, and 4132 to 8828 vs rWE. The mortality rate among those aged >40 y is consistently higher throughout for Scots.

In Scottish young adults, the rise in mortality is mainly attributed to alcohol- and drug abuse, suicide and violence, and wide inequalities across socioeconomic groups. In contrast, deaths of older adults are majorly the consequence of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases.

“Cumulative mortality by age 50 was historically lower in Scotland and the UK compared with the rWE," noted the authors. However, it increased in Scotland in the 1990s and similar rise was seen in the overall UK in the 2000s.

“The high relative mortality seen in young adults in the 1990s and 2000s in Scotland should be a source of concern, especially if this elevated relative mortality risk is ‘carried’ to older ages where absolute mortality risk is much higher,” they added.

This detailed analysis will help policymakers understand the reason for decline in Scotland mortality rates, and devise important strategies for different regions and socioeconomic status.