Mortality in the United States, 2015

December 8, 2016

Questions for Jiaquan Xu, Epidemiologist and Lead Author on “Mortality in the United States, 2015.”

Q: Is it true that death rates in the U.S. have been increasing over the past few years?

JX: Not exactly. The age-adjusted death rate for total US population increased 1.2% from 724.6 per 100,000 standard population in 2014 to 733.1 in 2015. This was the first significant increase since 1999. We have seen the decrease in mortality for most race/ethnic groups in most of years since 2006. Especially the rates decreased significantly for all male, all female, non-Hispanic white male, non-Hispanic white female, non-Hispanic black male, non-Hispanic black female, Hispanic male, and Hispanic female in 2014 from 2013.

Q: What are some of the reasons why the death rate increased between 2014 and 2015?

JX: We don’t know exactly what caused the increase in mortality in the United States from 2014 to 2015. The results have shown that the age-adjusted death rates increased for 8 (heart disease, chronic lower respiratory, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and suicide) of the 10 leading causes of death. Only decrease in mortality among 10 leading causes of death in 2015 from 2014 was for cancer. Death rates increased significantly for 20 states and decreased for 1. The change for the rest of states were not significant.

Q: Do your findings for 2015 suggest we have reached a peak as far as increases in life expectancy goes?

JX: We don’t think we have reached a peak in life expectancy. Many people died of non-age-related causes because they have aged. Those deaths are preventable. For example, there are 146,571 deaths caused by accidents which accounted for 5.4% of total deaths in 2015. About 65% of deaths from these unintentional injuries were those aged under 65. Among accidental deaths, unintentional poisoning accounted for 32.4 % and motor vehicle traffic accidents accounted for 24.5%. We also don’t know if the increase in mortality in 2015 will continue in 2016. But preliminary data have shown that the mortality for most of the 10 leading causes of death in 2015 went down in second quarter from first quarter, 2016 ( But it is too early to say that the mortality in 2016 will go down or continue going up. We will see what happens when the 2016 final file is available.

Q: What accounts for the decline in life expectancy at birth in 2015 from 2014?

JX: For the total US population, life expectancy decreased 0.1 year from 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.8 in 2015, mainly because of increases in mortality from the 13 causes of death among the 15 leading causes of death, such as heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, kidney disease, suicide, septicemia, , chronic liver disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, and pneumonitis due to solids and liquids. From 2014 to 2015, life expectancy decreased 0.1 year for females largely because of increases in mortality from 12 of 15 leading causes of death such as heart disease, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, unintentional injuries, influenza and pneumonia, septicemia, hypertension, chronic liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, suicide, and pneumonitis due solids and liquids. The deaths from those 12 leading causes of death accounted for 52.9% of total female deaths.

Life expectancy declined 0.2 year for males largely because of increases in mortality from 11 of 15 leading causes of death such as unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, suicide, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic liver disease, septicemia, Parkinson’s disease, Homicide, and hypertension. And about 65% of accidental deaths were under 65 years old, while 81% of suicides were aged 15-64, and 95% of homicides were under 65 years. More young people dying from preventable causes drags life expectancy down.

Q: Is it unusual that mortality rates for so many leading causes of death increased in 2015?

JX: We haven’t seen the increase in mortality from so many leading causes of death for a long time. The age-adjusted death rates increased significantly for 3 of 10 leading causes of death in 2014, 2 in 2013, 1 in 2012, and 5 in 2011. It is an unusual year. Again we don’t know why.

Q: Does the increase in mortality among white females suggest another drop in life expectancy for that group?

JX: We don’t have life expectancy numbers for white females yet. It is possible that the life expectancy numbers in 2015 for white women will drop again in 2015 since the life expectancy decreased 0.1 year for all females in 2015 from 2014 and mortality from 12 of 15 leading causes of death for white females increased significantly in 2015 from 2014 (heart disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, unintentional injuries, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, hypertension, chronic liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, suicide, pneumonitis due to solids and liquids).


COPD-Related Mortality by Sex and Race Among Adults Aged 25 and Over: United States, 2000-2014

September 8, 2016

Questions for Hanyu Ni, Ph.D., M.P.H., Associate Director for Science and Lead Author on “COPD-Related Mortality by Sex and Race Among Adults Aged 25 and Over: United States, 2000-2014

Q: How have trends in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) related deaths changed since 2000?

HN: Overall, the COPD-related death rate decreased 12.3% from 2000 through 2014 after adjustment for age. The crude death rate remained flat over time.

Q: What is the difference between COPD-related deaths and chronic lower respiratory disease mortality – the latter which is listed as the third leading cause of death in the United States?

HN: Chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD) comprises three major diseases, i.e., chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma — that are all characterized by shortness of breath caused by airway obstruction. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes mainly emphysema and chronic bronchitis. From 2000 through 2014, COPD accounted for approximately 96% of all CLRD deaths every

Q: How has COPD-related mortality changed among men and women over time?

HN: The COPD-related death rate declined more rapidly among men than among women. The age-adjusted rate for men declined 22.5% from 183.0 per 100,000 standard population in 2000, to 141.9 in 2014. The rate for women declined 3.8% from 104.9 in 2000 to 100.9 in 2014.

Q: Are there differences among race and age groups in COPD-related deaths?

HN: The changes over time in the COPD-related death rate differed by sex, race, and age. Between 2000 and 2014, the COPD-related death rate declined among men aged 65 and older and among women aged 65 and 84. However, the death rate increased among middle-aged men and women aged 45-64 and women aged 85 years and older. During the same period, the rate declined among white men and black men, remained stable among white women, but increased among black women.

Q: What do you think is the most significant finding in your new study?

HN: Using multiple-cause-of death data, this analysis found that the COPD-related death rate is roughly twice as high as the previously reported rate based on the underlying cause of death. This analysis also revealed an increased risk in COPD-related mortality among black women, both men and women aged 45-64, and women aged 85 and over.

Cesarean delivery – more popular than ever before

March 24, 2010

A report released yesterday from the National Center for Health Statistics showed that the cesarean rate rose by 53% from 1996 to 2007, reaching 32%, the highest rate ever reported in the United States. The 1.4 million cesarean births in 2007 represented about one-third of all births in the United States.

Although clear clinical indications often exist for a cesarean delivery, the short- and long-term benefits and risks for both mother and infant have been the subject of intense debate for over 25 years. Despite this, the rate continues to rise for women in all racial and ethnic groups, as well as for women of every age, as shown below.

Rates of cesarean delivery typically rise with increasing maternal age. As in 1996 and 2000, the rate for mothers aged 40–54 years in 2007 was more than twice the rate for mothers under age 20 (48% and 23%, respectively).For more from this recent release, visit

Depression in the United States

January 20, 2010

Depression is a common and debilitating illness. According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is characterized by changes in mood, self-attitude, cognitive functioning, sleep, appetite, and energy level. Here’s some facts about depression in the U.S. you may not know:

  • More than 1 in 20 Americans age 12 and over have depression.
  • More than 1 in 7 poor Americans have depression.
  • Rates of depression were higher in 40-59 year olds, women, and non-Hispanic black persons than in other demographic groups (see the chart below).

For more information, please visit the NCHS FastStats page on depression at, or visit

Report examines racial differences in nursing homes

December 2, 2009

In 2004, 11% of the 1.3 million nursing home residents aged 65 and over in the United States were black. Recent research suggests that black nursing home residents may be more likely than residents of other races to reside in facilities that have serious deficiencies, such as low staffing ratios and greater financial vulnerability. The National Center for Health Statistics released a report today examining differences observed between elderly black nursing home residents and residents of other races in functioning and resident-centered care. The chart below features one of the findings in the report:

For more, visit the report at

Infant mortality – Where does the U.S. stand?

November 5, 2009

In 2005, the latest year that the international ranking is available for, the United States ranked 30th in the world in infant mortality, behind most European countries, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and Israel.

The United States international ranking in infant mortality fell from 12th in the world in 1960, to 23rd in 1990 to 29th in 2004 and 30th in 2005. After decades of decline, the United States infant mortality rate did not decline significantly from 2000 to 2005.

Infant mortality rates, selected=


For more, visit

Increase in poisonings from opioid painkillers

October 1, 2009

NCHS recently released the report titled “Increase in Fatal Poisonings Involving Opioid Analgesics in the United States, 1999-2006.” This report shows the explosion of fatal poisonings from opioid painkillers over the past 7 years. For example, from 1999 through 2006, the number of fatal poisonings involving opioid analgesics more than tripled from 4,000 to 13,800 deaths. Opioid analgesics were involved in almost 40% of all poisoning deaths in 2006.The differences among states is also striking:

Age-adjusted death rates for poisonings involving opioid analgesics: Comparison of state and U.S. rates: United Stats, 2006

For more information, visit the report at