Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size

U.S. Death Rate Hits Record Low

CDC Data Show Death Rate Has Declined for 10 Consecutive Years
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

March 16, 2011 -- U.S. adults are living longer than ever before and fewer infants are dying, according to data released today by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

“Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2009,” is based on a review of nearly all death certificates reported to NCHS in 2009 from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Statistics were compared to data from the previous year.

The new report offers encouraging news: The U.S. death rate for 2009 hit a record low, and significantly fewer people died that year from 10 of the top 15 leading causes of death.

Specific findings from the 2009 preliminary data:

  • The age-adjusted death rate in the U.S. continued to fall for the 10th consecutive year. An "age-adjusted" death rate takes into consideration the changes in your risk of death as you grow older.
  • The age-adjusted death rate for 2009 dropped 2.3% from the previous year.
  • Overall life expectancy rose slightly from 78 years in 2008 to 78.2 years in 2009.
  • Life expectancy for white Americans slightly increased by 0.2 years.
  • Life expectancy for African-Americans did not change from the previous year.
  • The gap in life expectancy between whites and African-Americans slightly increased to 4.3 years in 2009, up 0.2% from 2008.

Leading Causes of Death

Deaths from 10 of the top 15 leading causes of death in 2009 significantly declined. The 15 leading causes of death in 2009 and the decreases in associated death rates were reported as follows:

  1. Heart disease: 3.7%
  2. Cancer: 1.1%
  3. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 4.1%
  4. Stroke: 4.2%
  5. Accidents: 4.1%
  6. Alzheimer’s disease: 4.1%
  7. Diabetes: 4.1%
  8. Flu and pneumonia: 4.7%
  9. Inflammation and scarring of the kidneys (nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis): no change
  10. Intentional self-harm (suicide): no change
  11. Widespread blood infection (septicemia): 1.8%
  12. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis: no change
  13. High blood pressure (essential hypertension) and kidney disease due to long-term high blood pressure: no change
  14. Parkinson’s disease: no change
  15. Homicide: 6.8%

Suicide swapped places with septicemia in the 2009 ranking to become the 10th leading cause of death, although the number of suicides did not significantly increase between 2008 and 2009.

Today on WebMD

Eating for a longer, healthier life.
woman biking
How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
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
how healthy is your mouth
dog on couch
doctor holding syringe
champagne toast
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Man feeding woman
two senior women laughing