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Life expectancy hits an all-time high in US

The Center for Disease Control said Americans on average are living longer, rising above 78 years.

March 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Life expectancy has hit another all-time high in the United States.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans on average are living longer, reaching 78 years and 2 months.

About 2.4 million people died in the United States in 2009 - roughly 36,000 fewer deaths than the year before.

Deaths were down for a range of causes, from heart disease to homicide, so experts don't believe there's one simple explanation for the increase in life expectancy. Better medical treatment, vaccination campaigns and public health measures against smoking are believed to be having an impact.

The infant mortality rate also hit a record low of 6.42 deaths per 1,000 live births, a drop of nearly 3 percent from 2008, according to the report.

However, there are some racial and gender differences. Life expectancy hasn't increased in the black community, holding steady from 2008.

Other highlights from the 2009 report include:

  • Male life expectancy is roughly 75 years, for females it is about 80 years.
  • Death rates declined slightly for 10 of the 15 leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, accidents, Alzheimer's disease, homicide and influenza and pneumonia.
  • Suicide passed blood infections to become the 10th leading cause of death. Suicide rates did not change significantly, but the blood infection death rate dropped, putting suicide back in the top 10 causes of deaths for the first time since 1999.
  • The influenza/pneumonia death rate dropped nearly 5 percent, even though 2009 was the year that the swine flu pandemic hit.

The Associated Press contributed to this story