U.S. Life Expectancy Hits New High of Nearly 78 Years, CDC Says

A child born in the United States in 2005 can expect to live to a new high of nearly 78 years (77.9); that's according to a new report released yesterday from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) titled "Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2005."

The report, CDC says, is based on approximately 99 percent of death records reported in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for 2005 and documents the latest trends in the leading causes of death and infant mortality.

The increase in life expectancy represents a continuation of a long-running trend. Life expectancy has increased from 75.8 years in 1995, and from 69.6 years in 1955.

"This report highlights the continued reduction in deaths from the three leading killers in the United States--heart disease, cancer and stroke--which is most likely due to better prevention efforts and medical advances in the treatments of these diseases," said Hsiang-Ching Kung, a survey statistician with NCHS and one of the report's authors. "If death rates from certain leading causes of death continue to decline, we should continue to see improvements in life expectancy."

Highlights of the report include:

  • Life expectancy for the white population was 78.3 in 2005, unchanged from the record high of 2004. Life expectancy for the black population increased slightly from 73.1 years in 2004 to 73.2 years in 2005.
  • The age-adjusted U.S. death rate fell to below 800 deaths per 100,000 population in 2005--an all-time low.
  • The death rate from the three leading killers in the United States--heart disease, cancer and stroke--declined in 2005 compared to the previous year. The age-adjusted death rate from heart disease fell from 217 deaths per 100,000 in 2004 to 210.3 in 2005, while the age-adjusted death rate from cancer dropped from 185.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2004 to 183.8 in 2005. The age-adjusted death rate from stroke declined from 50 deaths per 100,000 in 2004 to 46.6 in 2005.
  • The age-adjusted death rates for the seventh leading cause of death, Alzheimer's disease, and the 14th leading cause of death, Parkinson's disease, both increased approximately 5 percent between 2004 and 2005.

The full report is available at www.cdc.gov/nchs/. Final U.S. mortality data for 2005 will not be available until next year.

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