U.S. life expectancy hits record high

by Kyle Potter

Life expectancy in the U.S. has hit an all-time high at 78 years and two months, according to a preliminary report on deaths in 2009 by the Centers for Disease Control.

The previous record of 78 years was set in 2008. The new estimate is for babies born in 2009, so unfortunately us college-aged folk may have nothing to celebrate about just yet.

The 2009 life expectancy estimate was calculated using nearly all (more than 96 percent) of the death certificates from that year.

Here are some highlights (and low points) from that report:

-The battle of the sexes still rages on, and women are still in the lead. Women can expect to live 80 1/2 years, whereas men should expect to croak by 75 1/2 years.

-Infant mortality rates also dropped 3 percent from 2008 – a record low 6.42 live births out of 1,000 died in 2009.

-While life expectancy improved for Americans overall, life expectancy and infant mortality rates for blacks saw no change. 

-Flu and pneumonia-related deaths decreased by about 5 percent from 2008, despite the fact that 2009 was the year of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu. Flu deaths actually rose by 1,000, but pneumona – a respiratory lung infection that often arises as a complication of the flu – deaths dropped by 4,000.

-Suicide was the 10th most common cause of death in 2009, cracking the top 10 for the first time in a decade.

-To end on a happy note: 10 of the 15 most common causes of death declined slightly from 2008, including: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke and homicide.