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U.S. Life Expectancy Drops Slightly
Date:12/9/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Life expectancy dipped slightly in the United States from 2007 to 2008, according to a new federal report.

Life expectancy for Americans in general declined by a little more than one month, from 77.9 to 77.8 years. For women, the average life expectancy dropped by a tenth of one year, to 80.3 years; for men it also dropped by the same amount, to 75.3 years.

For the first time in 50 years, stroke was not the third-leading cause of death; it was overtaken by chronic lower respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The age-adjusted death rates for stroke dropped 3.8 percent from 2007 to 2008, while rates for chronic lower respiratory diseases rose 7.8 percent, according to the report, released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Broken down by race, life expectancy slipped 0.2 years for whites. Life expectancy for black women remained unchanged at 76.8 years in 2008, while life expectancy for black men hit a record high -- 70.2 years -- although they still live nearly eight fewer years, on average, than white men. The difference in life expectancy between the white and black populations was 4.6 years in 2008, a 0.2 year drop from 2007.

Heart disease and cancer, which are the two leading causes of death in the United States, still accounted for nearly half -- 48 percent -- of all deaths in 2008.

Death rates rose noticeably in 2008 from several other causes other than respiratory diseases -- Alzheimer's disease (up 7.5 percent), influenza and pneumonia (up 4.9 percent), hypertension, or high blood pressure (up 4.1 percent), suicide (up 2.7 percent), and kidney disease (up 2.1 percent).

On the positive front, infant mortality rates fell to an all-time low in 2008, declining to 6.59 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008, from 6.75 in 2007. Birth defects were the leading
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