Los Angeles County Mortality Rate Drops 26% in Past Decade; Racial, Ethnic Disparities Persist
The mortality rate for Los Angeles County residents dropped 26% between 1991 and 2000, but disparities among racial and ethnic groups persist, according to a report released yesterday by the county Department of Health Services, the Los Angeles Times reports. The report found that blacks die at three times the rate of Asians and Latinos and 1.5 times the rate of whites, a trend that researchers attributed in part to the higher smoking rate among blacks. Nutrition, stress and genetics also "play a role," they said. The report also found that heart disease and stroke ranked as the leading causes of death in the county, despite medical advances and prevention campaigns. In addition, the report found that AIDS-related deaths "plummeted" 77% in the county as a result of advances in drug treatment, but the mortality rate from complications associated with diabetes increased 48% as a result of "low levels of physical activity and increasing rates of obesity" among county residents. The report also found that the county had a life expectancy two years higher than the national average, which researchers attributed to the state's lower smoking rate. "We are now reaping the harvest of some changes in personal health habits that have been made over time, particularly in respect to smoking," Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county director of public health, said. However, he added that health officials must "redouble our efforts in some areas" to reduce mortality rates among "all populations" (Luna, Los Angeles Times, 6/6).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.