Winter deaths in Scotland down 1,510 from previous year

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Winter deaths fell to just over 20,500 last year, down from a 15-year high of more than 22,000 the previous year.

Winter deaths fell to just over 20,500 last year, down from a 15-year high of more than 22,000 the previous year.

New statistics from National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that 20,503 deaths were registered between December 2015 and March 2016, down from 22,013 in the same period in 2014/15.

The seasonal difference for last winter - calculated by comparing the four winter months with the average of the four-month periods before and after the winter - was 2,850.

This was 1,210 fewer than 2014/15 when the seasonal difference was 4,060, but still exceeded the level in eight of the 10 previous winters.

The figures show the seasonal difference among people aged 85 and over fell significantly in 2015/16, down from 1,940 the previous year to 970.

The 75-84 age group also saw a decrease, down from 1,240 in 2014/15 to 910 in 2015/16.

Meanwhile, the seasonal difference in those aged up to 64 rose from 270 in 2014/15 to 450 last winter.

NRS chief executive Tim Ellis 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 smooths 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.”

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