HealthDay News — The average life expectancy in the United States reached a record high of 78.8 years in 2012, reported the CDC in a data brief.

For people aged 65 years in 2012, life expectancy was an additional 19.3 years, a slight increase over the year before. Women aged 65 years and older in 2012 were estimated to live another 20.5 years, whereas men were estimated to get an additional 18 years of life.

The death rates for eight of the 10 leading causes of death declined significantly; only death rates from suicides and deaths from unintentional injuries increased or stayed the same in 2012 compared with 2011.

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Table 1: Age-adjusted death rates for the 10 leading causes of death in 2012

Cause of death 2011 death rate 2012 death rate
Heart disease 173.7 170.5
Cancer 169.0 166.5
Chronic lower respiratory diseases 42.5 41.5
Stroke 37.9 36.9
Unintentional injuries 29.1 39.1
Alzheimer disease 24.7 23.8
Diabetes 21.6 21.2
Influenza and pneumonia 15.7 14.4
Kidney disease 13.4 13.1
Suicide 12.3 12.6

*Deaths per 100,000 standard population

In 2012, a total of 23,629 infants aged under one year died, 356 fewer infants than in 2011. The 10 leading causes of infant mortality in 2012 accounted for more than two-thirds of infant deaths.

“Although changes in mortality are relatively small from one year to the next, long-term trends show the apparent progress in reducing mortality,” noted the agency.