The Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics announced the age-adjusted death rate fell to 776.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2006 from 799 deaths per 100,000 in 2005, pushing life expectancy higher. Life expectancy at birth hit a new record of 78.1 years, a 0.3% increase from 2005.
According to the announcement, record high life expectancy was recorded for both white males and black males (76 years and 70 years, respectively) as well as for white females and black females (81 years and 76.9 years).
The CDC said the decline in number of deaths is unusual considering the growing older population, but is likely due to a very sharp drop in mortality from influenza and pneumonia (12.8% decline). Death rates for eight of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States all dropped significantly in 2006. Alzheimer’s disease passed diabetes to become the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.
Other declines observed in the CDC data include:
- chronic lower respiratory diseases (6.5%),
- stroke (6.4%),
- heart disease (5.5%),
- diabetes (5.3%),
- hypertension (5%),
- chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (3.3%),
- suicide (2.8%),
- septicemia or blood poisoning (2.7%),
- cancer (1.6%), and
- accidents (1.5%).
The data is based on over 95% of death certificates collected in all 50 states and the District of Columbia as part of the National Vital Statistics System.