Examining Canada’s health system performance 

People who die prematurely can be thought of as having lost years of potential life.

Potential years of life lost, or PYLL, is a measure of premature mortality. It estimates the additional time a person would have lived had he or she not died prematurely (before age 70).

Use this tool to compare leading causes of premature death from 18 high-income countries over a 50-year period. Explore early death due to cancer, heart disease, stroke (cerebrovascular disease) and external causes such as falls, traffic accidents, accidental poisonings and intentional self-harm.

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    PYLL for selected countries, 1960 to 2010: Relative position;  
    PYLL for selected countries, 1960 to 2010: Absolute rate;  

    Note I: Linear extrapolation using simple average estimates was used to replace missing values of potential years of life lost.

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    Important notes

    Cause of death

    • Cancer includes all cancers (neoplasms).
    • Cerebrovascular diseases are often referred to as strokes.
    • External causes include traffic accidents, falls, accidental poisonings and intentional self-harm.
    • Ischemic heart disease is often known as coronary artery disease.
    • Lung cancer includes cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung.

    Relative position

    The relative position of each country, on a scale of 0 to 100, which is determined using the PYLL absolute rate, whereby the top performer is position 0 (fewest years of life lost) and the bottom performer is position 100 (most years of life lost) for each year of analysis, using a min–max normalization method.

    Absolute rate

    The PYLL (per 100,000 population) for a cause of death by sex and country for 1 year. PYLL is the sum of the total years of potential life lost in 1 year among those who died prematurely (before age 70).

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