According to a recently released report:
ATLANTA - In what appears to be an amazing success for American medicine, preliminary government figures released Wednesday showed that the annual number of deaths in the U.S. dropped by nearly 50,000 in 2004 — the biggest decline in nearly 70 years.
The 2 percent decrease, reported by the National Center for Health Statistics, came as a shock to many, because the U.S. is aging, growing in population and getting fatter. In fact, some experts said they suspect the numbers may not hold up when a final report is released later this year.
Nevertheless, center officials said the statistics, based on a review of about 90 percent of death records reported in all 50 states in 2004, were consistent across the country and were deemed solid enough to report.
The center said drops in the death rates for heart disease, cancer and stroke accounted for most of the decline.
I know that lower death rates don’t equate to lower incident rates of these diseases, and that fewer deaths probably only mean delayed deaths from these diseases. I’d be interested in seeing how the rates of actual occurrences have changed over the last few years. It’ll also be interesting to see what happens with the final numbers.