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U.S. Life Expectancy Hits New High
Date:9/12/2007

Drops in deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke fuel the trend

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Life expectancy rates in the United States are at an all-time high, with people born in 2005 projected to live for nearly 78 years, a new federal study finds.

The finding reflects a continuing trend of increasing life expectancy that began in 1955, when the average American lived to be 69.6 years old. By 1995, life expectancy was 75.8 years, and by 2005, it had risen to 77.9 years, according to the report, released Wednesday.

"This is good news," said report co-author Donna Hoyert, a health scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics. "It's even better news that it is a continuation of trends, so it is a long period of continuing improvement."

Despite the upward trend, the United States still has a lower life expectancy than some 40 other countries, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The country with the longest life expectancy is Andorra at 83.5 years, followed by Japan, Macau, San Marino and Singapore.

Much of the increase owes to declining death rates from the three leading causes of death in the country -- heart disease, cancer and stroke.

In addition, in 2005, the U.S. death rate dropped to an all time low of less than 800 deaths per 100,000.

"Yet mortality for Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease continue to increase," Hoyert said.

Hoyert also noted that women continue to outlive men. "The difference in 2005 was 5.2 years. This is the same as in 2004," she said. "But it's at the lowest level it has been at since 1946."

Racial disparities in death rates continue to exist. According to the report, life expectancy in 2005 for whites was 78.3, which was unchanged from 2004. For blacks, life expectancy was 73.2 years in 2005, up from 73.1 years in 2004.

And, the infant mortality rate increased from 6.79 per 1,000 births in 2004
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