U.S. life expectancy rose in 2001

May 1, 2003

Pharmaceutical Representative

Americans' life expectancy hit an all-time high in 2001, while age-adjusted deaths hit an all-time low, according to the CDC.

Americans' life expectancy hit an all-time high in 2001, while age-adjusted deaths hit an all-time low, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report documents that the national age-adjusted death rate decreased slightly from 869 deaths per 100,000 population in 2000 to 855 deaths per 100,000 in 2001. There were declines in mortality among most racial, ethnic and gender groups.

Meanwhile, life expectancy hit a new high of 77.2 years in 2001, up from 77 in 2000, and increased for both men and women as well as whites and blacks. Life expectancy increased from 74.3 years in 2000 to 74.4 years in 2001 for men, and from 79.7 years to 79.8 years for women.

"This report highlights some encouraging progress, including a continued reduction in death rates from the nation's three leading killers - heart disease, cancer and stroke," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said. "At the same time, it reminds us that we need to do more to reduce the health disparities that disproportionately affect certain racial and ethnic groups."

Causes of death

Among leading causes of death, there were declines in mortality from heart disease (a decline of nearly 4%), cancer (2%), stroke (nearly 5%) and accidents/unintentional injuries (nearly 2%). The biggest decline in mortality among leading causes of death was for influenza/pneumonia (more than 7%).

The age-adjusted death rate for HIV/AIDS declined nearly 4% between 2000 and 2001, a bigger decline than the year before and continuing a trend that has occurred since 1995. Over this six-year period, mortality from HIV has declined nearly 70% after increasing over 191% between 1987 and 1994.

However, HIV remains the sixth leading cause of death for people ages 25 to 44.

"People with HIV are living longer, no question about it, and that is something we're very pleased about," said CDC Director Julie Gerberding. "However, much remains unclear. What is the long-term efficacy of anti-AIDS drugs, for example? Also, since new HIV infections continue to occur, we must remain focused on HIV prevention and keep positive trends in perspective."

The report shows that mortality increased for some leading causes of death, including: kidney disease (a 3.7% increase), hypertension (3%) and Alzheimer's disease (5%). The infant mortality rate remained unchanged between 2000 and 2001, at 6.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. PR

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