Winter mortality rate down in Scotland
The death rate in Scotland from December 2015 to March 2016 was down from the previous year, according to the latest figures.
In total, 20,503 deaths were registered by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) in the four months compared with 22,013 in 2014/2015.
The 2014/2015 figures represented the highest winter death rate in 15 years.
The last sixteen winters have had seven out of the ten lowest seasonal increases in the 65 winters for which figures are available. NRS statistics show that mortality can fluctuate markedly from winter to winter, but occasionally one year will have an unusually large figure, like winter 2014/15.
The number of deaths registered between December 2015 to March 2016 exceeded the rate for the proceeding four months which was 17,625.
It was also higher than the death rate for the four months afterwards which was 17,675.
Tim Ellis, chief executive of NRS, said: “There are always more deaths in the winter in Scotland than in any other season.
“These new figures from National Records of Scotland show that last winter’s seasonal increase was smaller than the one for winter 2014/15, but it was still above the level seen in eight of the previous ten winters.
“However, looking at our figures, which go back to 1951/52, the long-term trend has clearly been downward. Despite the unusually high figure for winter 2014/15, the five-year moving average (which smoothes out much of the year-to-year fluctuation) is at its fourth lowest ever level.
“There is no single cause of additional deaths in winter. Very few are caused by hypothermia and only a small proportion by influenza. The underlying causes of most of the additional deaths include respiratory and circulatory diseases (such as pneumonia, coronary heart disease and stroke), dementia, and Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.”