(RxWiki News) Americans may be living longer than ever before. In a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, measures of life span were up and rates of death were down.
The CDC tracks life expectancy, death rates, leading causes of death and infant mortality rates. The agency recently released a report on these numbers, based on death certificates collected in 2012.
According to the report, life expectancy reached a record high in 2012.
"Life expectancy in the United States has again increased, primarily due to declines in death from heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases and stroke," said David Winter, MD, MSc, MACP, Chief Clinical Officer, President, and Chairman of the Board of HealthTexas Provider Network (HTPN).
"While improved detection and treatment of these conditions may be a factor, improvements in nutrition and exercise and a decline in tobacco use are also likely to be playing a role," Dr. Winter told dailyRx News. "There has been a steady increase in life expectancy in recent years, so we would expect this trend to continue, especially for those who pay attention to their health."
The average life expectancy for Americans was 78.8 years in 2012. The life expectancy in 2011 was 78.7 years, according to brief author Jiaquan Xu, MD, and colleagues with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Women continued to have a longer average life expectancy than men. In 2012, women lived an average of 81.2 years, while men lived an average of 76.4 years.
The increase in life expectancy may be due to a reduction in deaths from heart disease, cancer, stroke and other conditions, according to the report.
The rate of death decreased by 1.1 percent from 2011 to 2012. The death rate was 732.8 deaths per 100,000 people. That was a record low death rate, according to the CDC.
The brief authors also broke down death rate changes by race and gender. Death rates for black females decreased the most, at 2.3 percent from 2011 to 2012. Death rates for white males dropped 1.2 percent. Death rates for white females and black males both decreased 1.1 percent.
“Much of the recent improvement in death rates and life expectancy for population groups examined can be attributed to reductions in death rates from major causes of death, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases,” the authors wrote.
The 10 leading causes of death were the same in 2011 and 2012, according to the CDC researchers.
The top 10 causes of death in 2012 were heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.
The authors found that death rates for eight of the 10 causes of death decreased from 2011 to 2012.
Deaths from heart disease decreased by 1.8 percent. For cancer, the decrease in the same time period was 1.5 percent. The largest decrease of 8.3 percent was in influenza and pneumonia deaths.
The rate for unintentional injuries was the same from 2011 to 2012. The rate of suicide increased by 2.4 percent.
The infant mortality rate measures the number of infant deaths compared to live births in a year. The CDC researchers wrote that the infant mortality rate “is generally regarded as a good indicator of the overall health of a population.”
In 2012, the CDC tracked 23,629 deaths of children under age 1 — down 356 infant deaths from 2011. The infant mortality rate decreased by 1.5 percent from 2011 to 2012.
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) caused 42.5 infant deaths per 100,000 live births in 2012.
SIDS is the broad name describing the unexplained death of child younger than 1. SIDS is also called "crib death." To reduce the risk of SIDS, put babies to sleep on their backs, recommends the National Institutes of Health's Safe to Sleep campaign website.
The CDC published the data brief online Oct. 8.