U.S. Mortality Rates Dropped 60 Percent From 1935 to 2010

For every year, heart disease, cancer, and stroke are among the five leading causes of death

TUESDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- From 1935 to 2010, the death rate in the United States decreased considerably, although the single-year improvements in mortality were often small, according to a March data brief issued by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Donna L. Hoyert, Ph.D., from the NCHS in Hyattsville, Md., used data from the National Vital Statistics System over a 75-year period to examine long-term U.S. mortality trends.

The author found that, from 1935 to 2010, the age-adjusted risk of dying decreased 60 percent, although the single-year improvements were often modest. Every year between 1935 and 2010, heart disease, cancer, and stroke were among the five leading causes of death. For all age groups, the risk of dying decreased, ranging from a 94 percent decrease for those aged 1 to 4 years to a 38 percent decrease for those aged 85 years or older. Compared with females, the age-adjusted death rates were consistently higher for males, but both decreased during the study period; for example, the death rate was 65 percent higher for males than females between 1975 and 1981, compared with a 40 percent higher rate in 2010. For all race subgroups the risk of dying decreased during the 75-year period, but differences persisted between the groups.

"While the overall risk of mortality decreased 60 percent over this 75-year period, there were fluctuations in the rate of decline most likely associated with changes in the broader environment," Hoyert concludes.

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