U.S. Life Expectancy Hits All-Time High

Life expectancy for Americans reached an all-time high of 77.2 years in 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. This is an increase of two-tenths of a year over 2000.

Life expectancy rose for both men and women. For men, life expectancy increased from 74.3 years in 2000 to 74.4 years in 2001; for women, life expectancy edged up from 79.7 years to 79.8 years.

The longer life expectancy was partially attributable to lower death rates from the nation''s three leading killers--heart disease, cancer and stroke. Mortality from heart disease dropped 4 percent, deaths from cancer 2 percent, and mortality from stroke nearly 5 percent.

"All of these have a lot to do with behavior, something that individuals have a direct say in their own lives in terms of diet and smoking and risk-taking behavior," said Elizabeth Arias, statistician for the CDC''s National Center for Health Statistics, which conducted the study.

The biggest decline in mortality among leading causes of death was for influenza/pneumonia (more than 7 percent).

However, mortality increased for some leading causes of death, including: kidney disease (3.7 percent), hypertension (3 percent) and Alzheimer''s disease (5 percent). In addition, the infant mortality rate remained unchanged between 2000 and 2001, at 6.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

The report "Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2001" was prepared by CDC''s National Center for Health Statistics based on the data recorded on more than 97 percent of state death certificates issued in 2001. The full report is available at www.cdc.gov/nchs.

For the CDC''s news release on the report, click here.