Americans are living longer thanks to improved care for cancer and heart disease, as well as a dip in the nation’s homicide rate, federal officials reported this week.
Life expectancy climbed to an all-time high in 2010 – from 78.6 in 2009 to 78.7 in 2010 -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
Homicides fell by 3.6 percent in 2010 to the lowest level since 1962, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. For the first time in more than four decades, homicide is no longer on the national list of the top 15 leading causes of death.
Among the CDC’s other findings, based on death certificates from all 50 states and the District of Columbia:
*Heart disease and cancer are the top two killers, accounting for nearly half of all fatalities in the U.S. But the death rate from heart disease declined 2.4 percent and cancer-related deaths fell 0.6 percent.
*From 2009 to 2010, death rates decreased significantly for seven of the 15 leading causes of death: Diseases of heart, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, accidents (unintentional injuries), influenza and pneumonia, and septicemia.
*Homicide fell from among the top 15 leading causes of death in 2010, replaced by pneumonitis.
*The death rate increased for five leading causes of death: Alzheimer’s disease, Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, Parkinson's disease, and pneumonitis.