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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 8:50 EDT

American Life Expectancy Dropped In 2008

December 9, 2010

U.S. health experts said on Thursday that American life expectancy slipped slightly in 2008 to 77.8 years, the first drop since 2004.

According to the report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, stroke has slipped from its status as the third-leading cause of death, surpassed by chronic lower respiratory diseases like asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.

Heart disease and cancer are still the top two killers for U.S. citizens and they accounted for 48 percent of all deaths in 2008, while stroke is now the fourth-leading killer of Americans.

Death rates dropped 3.8 percent between 2007 and 2008 to a historic low, while death rates from chronic lower respiratory disease jumped 7.8 percent.  The CDC said that the increase may be due in part to changes in the way deaths from these conditions were recorded.

The CDC said the average American life expectancy slipped slightly, falling from a record high of 77.9 years in 2007 to 77.8 years in 2008.  It also said that women were expected to live 80.3 years and men 75.3 years.

The gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites in the U.S. closed a bit during the period, falling to 4.6 in 2008, down 0.2 years.  Life expectancy for black men reached an all-time high of 70.2 years.

There was no change in life expectancy for black women.

The preliminary statistics are based on records of deaths that occurred in the calendar year 2008 and were released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

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