HealthDay News — U.S. mortality decreased 60% from 1935 to 2010, although single-year improvements in mortality were often small, data from the National Vital Statistics System indicate.

During the 75 year study period, heart disease, cancer and stroke were among the five leading causes of death each year,  Donna L. Hoyert, PhD, of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in Hyattsville, Md., reported in a data brief.

Declines in mortality risk ranged from 94% among those aged 1 to 4 years, to 38% among those aged 85 years and older, she determined. Although mortality decreased among both men and women, age-adjusted death rates have remained consistently higher for men. For example, the death rate was 65% higher for men than women between 1975 and 1981, and in 2010, a 40% difference in mortality persisted. For all racial and ethnic subgroups the risk for dying decreased during the 75-year period, but differences still remain between groups.

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“While the overall risk for mortality decreased 60% during this 75-year period, there were fluctuations in the rate of decline, most likely associated with changes in the broader environment,” Hoyert concluded.

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