CDC Report Finds U.S. Life Expectancy Up, Mortality Down
A CDC report released yesterday found that life expectancy for Americans increased last year, while death rates for adults and infants dropped, marking a "trend toward better overall health" in the United States, the Washington Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 10/11). In the study, titled "Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2000," CDC researchers analyzed 85% of U.S. death certificates filed in 2000 (CDC release, 10/10). The report found that the average U.S. life expectancy reached a "record" high 76.9 years, up 0.2 years from 1999, while the national mortality rate fell to an "all-time low" at 872.4 deaths per 100,000 Americans. According to the report, minority groups "showed improvements" larger than whites and the U.S. population as a whole in life expectancy and infant mortality (Washington Post, 10/11). Infant mortality also fell to a record low at 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, a decrease from 7.1 deaths in 1999 (CDC release, 10/10). Mortality among black infants dropped from 14.6 deaths per 1,000 live births to 14 deaths, the largest decline among U.S. ethnic groups (Washington Post, 10/11). In addition, mortality for HIV infection declined for the fifth straight year, falling 3.7% in 2000. Age-adjusted death rates for heart disease and cancer, which account for 50% of annual U.S. deaths, also dropped. However, death rates for Alzheimer's disease, influenza, pneumonia and kidney diseases rose in 2000 (CDC release, 10/10). Heart disease represented the leading cause of death in 2000, cancer the second and stroke the third.
Arialdi Minino of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics attributed the improved life expectancy, mortality and infant mortality rates to "a period of unparalleled economic growth and expansion." He said, "Those groups that did not have as good access to health care may have had better access. They may also have had improvement in [their] diets and their lifestyles" (Washington Post, 10/11). HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson attributed the improved figures to medical advances and urged Americans to eat a proper diet and to exercise to "stay healthy" (McClam, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/11). In addition, according to CDC Director Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, the decline in infant mortality resulted from "more healthy pregnancies" among U.S. women (Cimons, Los Angeles Times, 10/11). To view the CDC report, go to http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr49/nvsr49_12.pdf. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.