05/24/2012 12:07 EDT | Updated 07/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Avoidable death rate falls sharply

The rate of avoidable deaths in Canada has fallen sharply in 30 years, according to a new report.

Avoidable deaths refers to untimely deaths among those under age 75 that should not occur with timely and effective health care and policy interventions, says the report from the Canadian Institute of Health Information and Statistics Canada released Thursday.

The rate of untimely deaths dropped from 373 per 100,000 Canadians in 1979 to 185 per 100,000 in 2008. That decline was similar to rates in other developed countries.

Canada ranked third among G7 countries on potentially avoidable mortality after Japan and France.

Policies like seat belt and motorcycle helmet laws, a drop in smoking rates and a greater emphasis on nutrition and physical activity were credited for the decline, an analyst with the institute said.

"Declines in some areas of avoidable mortality, such as circulatory diseases, demonstrate that great results can be achieved through collaboration across the health care system and other sectors," Jeremy Veillard, the institute's vice president of research and analysis, said in a release.

"But, there is still work to be done."

Deaths that can be avoided by preventing disease and injury have decreased from 225 per 100,000 to 119 per 100,000 in the past 30 years.

A subgroup called preventable includes deaths from conditions like lung cancer fatalities tied to smoking or liver cirrhosis after excessive alcohol consumption, as well as lives that could be saved through vaccination or traffic legislation.