Evaluating long-term trends in mortality is important for health planning, priority setting and also to identify modifiable factors contributing to poor health. In a new study, researchers from the American Cancer Society reviewed changes in the overall U.S. death rate, as well as trends in the six leading causes of death.
The researchers gathered data from the National Center for Health Statistics from 1969 to 2013. They report that overall death rates have decreased by 43 percent. During this time period, death rates continued to decrease for heart disease, cancer, stroke, injuries and diabetes. However, the decrease in heart disease, stroke and diabetes related deaths has slowed during the last five years.
The researchers also found that deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have doubled since 1969, and continue to increase, specifically among women.