Life expectancy in U.S. reached record high of 78.1 years in 2006

Life expectancy for U.S. residents reached a record high of 78.1 years in 2006, compared with a previous record high of 77.8 years in 2005, according to a preliminary report released on Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics at CDC, the Washington Post reports. For the report, Melonie Heron, a NCHS demographer, and colleagues analyzed 95% of the death certificates collected in the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in 2006.

According to the report, life expectancy was 80.7 years for women and 75.4 years for men (Brown, Washington Post, 6/12). Experts said that the disparity in life expectancy between women and men has decreased since 1979 as more women have become smokers (Stobbe, AP/Wichita Eagle, 6/12). The report found that white women had the longest life expectancy, at 81 years, followed by black women at 76.9 years, white men at 76 years and black men at 70 years (Washington Post, 6/12). The disparity in life expectancy between whites and blacks has decreased in recent years because of improvements in treatment for heart disease, which affects a higher percentage of blacks, experts said (AP/Wichita Eagle, 6/12).

The report also found that the overall mortality rate decreased to 776 deaths per 100,000 individuals in 2006 from 799 per 100,000 in 2005 (Sternberg, USA Today, 6/12). In addition, the report found the mortality rate for Hispanics was 550 deaths per 100,000 individuals, compared with 778 per 100,000 for whites and 1,001 for blacks (Washington Post, 6/12). The overall infant mortality rate decreased by more than 2% to 6.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006, the report found (USA Today, 6/12). Black infants had a mortality rate of 13.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, more than double the rate for white infants, according to the report (Washington Post, 6/12).

Leading Causes of Death

In 2006, the two leading causes of death were heart disease and cancer, which accounted for 1.2 million of the 2.4 million deaths overall (Washington Post, 6/12). The mortality rate from heart disease was 210.2 deaths per 100,000 individuals, and the rate for cancer was 187.1 per 100,000, the report found (Washington Post graphic, 6/12). However, the number of deaths from heart disease decreased by more than 5% in 2006, according to the report (AP/Wichita Eagle, 6/12).

The third leading cause of death was stroke, which had a mortality rate of 45.8 deaths per 100,000 individuals, the report found (Washington Post graphic, 6/12). The report found that the number of deaths from stroke decreased by more than 6% in 2006 (AP/Wichita Eagle, 6/12).

According to the report, the remainder of the 10 leading causes of death included lung disease, accidents, Alzheimer's disease diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and septicemia (Washington Post graphic, 6/12). In addition, the report found that the number of deaths from AIDS decreased for the 10th consecutive year (Washington Post, 6/12).

The report is available online (.pdf).

The Chicago Tribune blog "Triage" examined the report (Graham, "Triage," Chicago Tribune, 6/11).

NBC's "Nightly News" on Wednesday also reported on the study (Costello, "Nightly News," NBC, 6/11).

Kids Count Report

The percentage of low-birthweight infants born in the U.S. in 2005 increased to the highest rate since 1968, according to the 2008 Kids Count report released on Thursday, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The annual report, compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, measures each state in 10 areas, which include the infant mortality rate, teen birth rate and rate of low-birthweight infants.

The report found that the percentage of infants who weighed less than 5.5 pounds at birth increased to 8.2% in 2005. According to the report, the rate of low-birthweight infants among blacks was 13.6%, compared with 7.3% for whites and 6.9% for Hispanics (Crary, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/12).

The report is available online.


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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