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Death Rate in U.S. Down, but So Is Life Expectancy, Slightly

Stroke drops to fourth leading cause of death; life expectancy for black men hits 70.2

THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Life expectancy has declined slightly in the United States, stroke is no longer the third leading cause of death, and heart disease and cancer still account for nearly half of U.S. deaths; these and other statistics can be found in a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, entitled "Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2008."

Arialdi M. Miniño, M.P.H., of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data on the death records of more than 99 percent of the demographic and medical files for all U.S. deaths in 2008 to report the latest mortality statistics for the country.

The authors report a reduction in the death rate, from 760.2 to 758.7 deaths per 100,000 population from 2007 to 2008, while life expectancy fell from 77.9 to 77.8. Life expectancy for black American males reached an all-time high of 70.2 in 2008, though there was still a 4.6-year gap in life expectancy between whites and blacks. Stroke fell from the third to the fourth leading cause of death for the first time in 50 years; it was surpassed by chronic lower respiratory diseases. Heart disease and cancer, the first and second leading causes of death, accounted for 48 percent of deaths in 2008.

"This report presents preliminary U.S. data on deaths, death rates, life expectancy, leading causes of death, and infant mortality for 2008 by selected characteristics such as age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin," the authors write.

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