Study Reveals Trends In U.S. Death Rate, Leading Causes of Death Over 30 Years

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2005-09-13 21:38

Aging and Death Rate

The death rate from all causes of death combined decreased by 32 percent between 1970 and 2002, with the largest decreases for heart disease and stroke, but with an increase in death rates for diabetes and COPD, according to an article in the September 14 issue of JAMA.

Age-standardized death rates from all causes have decreased in the United States since the 1960s; however, the overall trend masks substantial variations in cause-specific rates and in the number of deaths occurring in different age groups from specific conditions, according to background information in the article. Understanding these trends and the relationship between the age-standardized death rates and the actual number of deaths that occur could provide valuable insight into the forces that shape the nation's health.

Ahmedin Jemal, D.V.M., Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society, Atlanta, and colleagues examined trends in death rates and number of deaths from the six leading causes in the United States and considered the relationship of these trends to disease prevention and health care in an aging population. The researchers analyzed vital statistics data on death in the United States from 1970 to 2002 from each of the 6 leading causes of death: heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), accidents (i.e., related to transportation [motor vehicle, other land vehicles, and water, air, and space] and not related to transportation [falls, fire, and accidental poisoning]), and diabetes mellitus.

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