5 Findings From the Recent US Mortality Data Report

December 9, 2016

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics released a report with new data on the 2015 US mortality rates. Here are 5 findings to take away from the report.

This week, the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the CDC, released a data brief containing information on US death rates, life expectancy, and infant mortality rates in 2015. Here are 5 findings to take away from the report.

1. In a troubling sign, life expectancy fell.

Life expectancy at birth for the total US population is now 78.8 years, down 0.1 year from the 2014 life expectancy. Females are still expected to live longer than males, but both genders saw their life expectancy decline. This is the first time the total population life expectancy has decreased since 1993, when it dropped by 0.3 years.

2. The age-adjusted death rate has increased as well.

At the same time, the age-adjusted death rate for 2015 rose to 733.1 per 100,000 standard population, indicating a 1.2% increase from the death rate of 724.6 in 2014. Death rates increased between 2014 and 2015 for black males, white males, and white females, but did not change significantly for black females, Hispanic males, or Hispanic females.

3. The leading causes of death remain the same…

Unchanged from 2014 are the 10 leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide. These causes accounted for 74.2% of all deaths in 2015.

4. … But rates of those causes have changed.

From 2014 to 2015, death rates have risen for 8 of those leading causes of death, most dramatically by increases of 15.7% for Alzheimer’s disease and 6.7% for unintentional injuries, which includes drug overdoses. The one bright spot was the finding that death rates for cancer decreased by 1.7%.

5. Infant mortality has risen, but not significantly.

The infant mortality rate (IMR), calculated as the ratio of infant deaths to live births in a given year, increased slightly to 589.5 in 2015, but the change was not statistically significant. The IMR for deaths caused by unintentional injuries increased 11.3% from 2014 to 2015, while death rates for the other leading causes of infant deaths did not change significantly.