Skip to content

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size

Life Expectancy Reaches New Record

Life Expectancy Pushes Past 78 Years; Death Rate Falls for 11 of 15 Top Causes of Death
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 11, 2008 -- U.S. life expectancy has hit a new record: 78.1 years for babies born in 2006, says the CDC.

What's more, the death rate for 11 of the top 15 causes of death -- including heart disease, cancer, and stroke -- slowed in 2006.

That's what the CDC's preliminary data show, based on some 2.4 million deaths in 2006. Here are the highlights from the CDC's report.

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy in 2006 is about four months longer than it was in 2005, according to the CDC.

White women continue to have the longest life expectancy, followed by African-American women, white men, and African-American men. Those patterns have held since 1976, though all groups have seen their life expectancy improve during that time.

Here are the 2006 life expectancy figures for each of those groups:

  • White women: 81 years
  • African-American women: 76.9 years
  • White men: 76 years
  • African-American men: 70 years

Top Causes of Death

Here are the top causes of death for 2006 in the U.S., and the change in their age-adjusted death rate since 2005:

  1. Heart disease: down 5.5%
  2. Cancer: down 1.6%
  3. Stroke: down 6.4%
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (lung diseases): down 6.5%
  5. Accidents: down 1.5%
  6. Alzheimer's disease: down 0.9%
  7. Diabetes: down 5.3%
  8. Influenza and pneumonia: down 12.8% due to a relatively mild flu season
  9. Kidney disease: unchanged
  10. Septicemia (an infection that affects the blood and other parts of the body): down 2.7%
  11. Suicide: down 2.8%
  12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis: down 3.3%
  13. High blood pressure: down 5%
  14. Parkinson's disease: down 1.6%
  15. Homicide: down 1.6%

The decreases in the death rate for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and homicide may have been due to chance, and the kidney disease death rate held steady, so that leaves the CDC confident that 11 of the 15 leading causes of death had lower death rates in 2006 than in 2005.

The list's order is largely unchanged, except that Alzheimer's disease and diabetes traded places.

The preliminary infant death rate dropped 2.3% from 2005 to 2006, the CDC reports.

Best, Worst State Death Rates

Among states, Hawaii had the lowest age-adjusted death rate and Mississippi had the highest death rate in 2006, according to the CDC.

But if you fold U.S. territories into that ranking, Guam edged out Hawaii, and American Samoa ranked lower than Mississippi.

Here's how the states and territories ranked in their age-adjusted death rates, starting with the lowest rate:

  1. Guam
  2. Hawaii
  3. Virgin Islands
  4. Minnesota
  5. California
  6. New York
  7. Utah
  8. Florida
  9. Connecticut:
  10. Colorado:
  11. Massachusetts
  12. Vermont:
  13. Washington
  14. Arizona
  15. New Hampshire
  16. North Dakota
  17. Puerto Rico
  18. Iowa
  19. Nebraska
  20. New Jersey
  21. South Dakota
  22. Wisconsin
  23. Rhode Island
  24. Idaho
  25. New Mexico
  26. Alaska
  27. Oregon
  28. Maine
  29. Virginia
  30. Illinois
  31. Montana
  32. Delaware
  33. Texas
  34. Maryland
  35. Kansas
  36. Pennsylvania
  37. Michigan
  38. Wyoming
  39. Nevada
  40. Ohio
  41. North Carolina
  42. Indiana
  43. Missouri
  44. Georgia
  45. South Carolina
  46. Arkansas
  47. Washington, D.C.
  48. Tennessee
  49. Kentucky
  50. Oklahoma
  51. Louisiana
  52. West Virginia
  53. Alabama
  54. Mississippi
  55. Northern Mariana Islands
  56. American Samoa

Today on WebMD

blueberries
Eating for a longer, healthier life.
romantic couple
Dr. Ruth’s bedroom tips for long-term couples.
 
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
 
fast healthy snack ideas
Article
how healthy is your mouth
Tool
 
dog on couch
Tool
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
champagne toast
Slideshow
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Quiz
 
Man feeding woman
Slideshow
two senior women laughing
Article