NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

As Americans Live Longer, More Die From Elderly Diseases

October 11, 2001

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that life expectancy has reached a new high in America. Deaths from diseases which affect the young and middle-aged are down, while deaths from diseases associated with old age are increasing.

  • Life expectancy in this country has reached a new high of 76.9 years.
  • The report finds that 2,404,598 persons died in 2000 -- although an increase of 13,199 over the year before, it represented a decline in the death rate because the population is increasing.
  • The preliminary infant mortality rate fell to its lowest level ever in 2000 -- 6.9 infant deaths per 1,000, down from 7.1 in 1999.
  • Deaths from murder, suicide, accidents, stroke, diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases, chronic liver disease and AIDS were all down.

Because the U.S. population is living longer and ageing, deaths from such elderly-related diseases as Alzheimer's, influenza, pneumonia, kidney disease, high blood pressure and septicemia (blood infection) are rising.

Authorities tied the decline in overall mortality in part to fewer deaths from heart disease and cancer.

Source: Reuters, "Life Spans Increase in U.S.," Washington Times, October 11, 2001; Arialdi M. Minino and Betty L. Smith, "Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2000," National Vital Statistics Reports, October 9, 2001, National Center for Health Statistics.


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