December 9, 2010 / 10:33 PM / 8 years ago

U.S. life expectancy falls slightly in 2008: CDC

CHICAGO (Reuters) - American life expectancy slipped slightly in 2008 to 77.8 years, the first dip since 2004, U.S. health experts said on Thursday.

Stroke has slipped from its status as the third-leading cause of death, surpassed by chronic lower respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, according to the report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Heart disease and cancer remain the top two killers in the United States, accounting for 48 percent of all deaths in 2008, while stroke is now the fourth-leading killer of Americans.

Death rates from stroke fell 3.8 percent between 2007 and 2008 to an historic low, while death rates from chronic lower respiratory diseases surged 7.8 percent. The increase may be due in part to changes in the way deaths from these conditions were recorded, the CDC said.

Overall, the CDC said the average American life expectancy slipped slightly, falling from a record high of 77.9 years in 2007 to 77.8 years in 2008. Women were expected to live 80.3 years and men expected to live 75.3 years, the CDC said.

The gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites in the United States closed a bit during the period, falling to 4.6 in 2008, down 0.2 years as life expectancy for black men reached an all-time high of 70.2 years.

There was no change in life expectancy for black women.

The preliminary statistics are based on records of deaths that occurred in calendar year 2008.

SOURCE: National Vital Statistics Reports, December 9, 2010.

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