For the first time in 50 years, one of the top 3 causes of death in the U.S. has been displaced as one cause moves up in rank.
Chronic lower respiratory diseases has displaced strokes as the No. 3 cause of death in the U.S.
The other headline from this report by the National Center for Health Statistics is that life expectancy actually dropped slightly in the U.S. from 2007 to 2008.
Here are, the leading causes of death in the U.S. in 2008 with their rate of increase or decrease:
- Heart disease (-2.2%)
- Cancer (-1.6%)
- Chronic lower respiratory diseases (+7.8%)
- Stroke (-3.8%)
- Unintentional injuries (-3.5%)
- Alzheimer’s disease (+7.5%)
- Diabetes (-3.1%)
- Flu and pneumonia (+4.9%)
- Kidney disease (+2.1%), and
- Blood poisoning (+0.9%).
Deaths from motor vehicle crashes dropped sharply, homicide rates went down and fewer people died from workplace injuries.
Economists say people drive less during a recession. And contrary to popular beliefs, even criminals cut back when times are tough, thus the drop in homicides.
Two other causes in the top 15 that increased in 2008: suicide (No. 11) and high blood pressure (No. 13).
Life expectancy fell to 77.8 years in 2008, down slightly from 77.9 in 2007.