US mortality drops significantly20th April 2006
In 2004, just under 2.4 million Americans died. When age-sex adjusted, this represents the lowest mortality rate ever, down 3.8% on the previous year. The age at birth to which people are now expected to live has risen to 77.9 years, again the highest ever, and the difference in life expectancy between males and females is also diminishing.
These are the preliminary US government findings released in April that also showed the year 2004 had the sharpest drop in the number of deaths in about 60 years, down almost 50,000.
"The most striking aspect of the data this year was the intensity or volume of the decreases," said the report's author, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the lead author of the report. "This is the largest single-year decrease in the raw numbers of deaths that we've seen since the 1940s."
The report, Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2004, is based on analysis of about 90 percent of the death certificates from 2004. The full report will be out in May.
According to the report, the life expectancy of Americans in 2004 was 77.9 years, the highest ever. And women lived an average of 80.4 years; men, 75.2 years. That gap of 5.2 years is the smallest difference between the sexes since 1946.
The report also showed that age-adjusted death rates declined to a record low of 801 deaths per 100,000 population in 2004, down from almost 833 deaths per 100,000 the year before. All the sex and ethnic groups described in the report showed significant decreases in the age-adjusted death rate between 2003 and 2004.
Leading causes of death in 2004 were still heart disease, cancer and stroke. Overall, the 15 leading causes of death remained the same in 2004 as in 2003, but Alzheimer's disease overtook influenza/pneumonia. Alzheimer's is now the seventh leading cause, with influenza and pneumonia close behind at number eight.
The preliminary infant mortality rate for 2004 was 6.76 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, representing a slight (1.3 percent) but not statistically significant decrease.
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