Life expectancy dropped from 77.9 years in 2007 to 77.8 in 2008, a drop of just over one month for both sexes in the USA, says a new report issued by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Stroke has dropped from being the third leading cause of death for several decades to the fourth, but deaths due to long-term lower respiratory disease have gone up, the report reveals.

In 2008 approximately 133,750 people died from stroke, an age-adjusted death rate drop of 3.8% from the previous year. Chronic (long-term) lower respiratory infection deaths rose by 7.8% - there were 141,075 cases of lower respiratory infection in 2008.

WHO (World Health Organization) changes in the classification and coding for lower respiratory disease deaths may partly explain the recent increase in the USA, the authors of the report explain.

The report is called "Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2008".

Although life-expectancy dropped slightly overall, for African-Americans it rose from 70 years in 2007 to 70.2 years in 2008, closing the gap between Caucasian-Americans and African-Americans to 4.6 years.

The report also reveals that: 48% of premature deaths were due to heart disease and cancer in 2008 Deaths from the following reasons also dropped in 2008: accidents 3.5%, homicide 3.3%, diabetes 3.1%, heart disease 2.2%, and cancer 1.6%. Deaths from the following diseases rose in 2008: Alzheimer's 7.5%, kidney disease 2.1%, suicide 2.7%, hypertension (high blood pressure) 4.1%, and influenza/pneumonia 4.9%. Infant mortality rate dropped from 6.77 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 6.59 in 2008 - a 2.4% fall. The main cause of infant death was birth defects, followed by preterm-birth-related disorders, and then low birth weight. In 2008 there were 2,473,018 deaths in the USA, 49,306 more than the year before. The age-adjusted death rate for the American population was 758.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2008, versus 760.2 a year before "Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2008"
Arialdi M. MiniƱo, MPH; Jiaquan Xu, M.D.; and Kenneth D. Kochanek, M.A. Division of Vital Statistics
National Vital Statistics Report - CDC

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