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For Immediate Release:
August 3, 2010
Report: Leading Causes of Death in LA County on the Decline
Death rates due to heart disease, lung cancer show major declines but
large disparities still exist
LOS ANGELES - The number and rate of deaths in Los Angeles County is on
the decline, with progress made against some of the county's top
killers, according to a new report released by the Department of Public
Health today. Following the announcement last week that the life
expectancy for LA County residents has reached an all-time high of 80.3
years in 2006 (compared to 75.8 years in 1991), a new report released
today-Mortality in Los Angeles County 2007: Leading causes of death and
premature death with trends for 1998-2007-explores the reasons why.
"As a county, we're making great headway against the top two
killers, coronary heart disease and lung cancer," said Jonathan E.
Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "The
rate of death due to coronary heart disease plummeted by 38 percent over
these past 10 years, while the rate of death due to lung cancer
decreased by 23 percent." Combined, heart disease and cancer were
responsible for nearly half of the deaths in Los Angeles County in 2007,
claiming 13,890 and 13,599 lives respectively.
Other significant improvements over the 1998-2007 decade included the
following declines in the death rate of:
● 19% in death from emphysema/chronic obstructive pulmonary
● 36% in HIV deaths
● 54% in death from pneumonia/influenza
● 35% in stroke deaths
The overall mortality rates for coronary heart disease, lung cancer,
and stroke met Healthy People 2010 nationwide goals. However, "Not all
groups have benefited equally," Dr. Fielding said. "Substantial
disparities still exist by gender, race/ethnicity, and geographic area.
In addition to measuring the leading causes of death, the Mortality in
Los Angeles County 2007 also tracked the leading causes of premature
death, which is defined as death before the age of 75. (Almost half of
all deaths were among people younger than 75.) By this measure, the
total years of "potential life" lost overall decreased by 4 percent
from 496,111 in 2006 to 475,865 in 2007.
Once again, however, disparities were evident for different
racial/ethnic groups and different communities. Homicide was the leading
cause of premature death among men living in Metro and South Service
Planning Areas, and among Hispanic and black men countywide. It was also
the leading cause of death for 15-to-44-year-olds.
Coronary heart disease remains the leading cause of both death and
premature death. However, the other major causes of premature death were
strikingly different from the leading causes of death. Injuries-whether
intentional (homicide and suicide) or unintentional (e.g., motor vehicle
crashes and drug overdoses)-were the leading causes of premature death.
"This is an area that we need to continue to address," Dr. Fielding
said. "Most fatal injuries, whether intentional or accidental, are
preventable and disproportionately impact younger people, robbing them
of precious years of life."
The leading causes of premature death in LA County in 2007 were:
1. Coronary heart disease
3. Motor vehicle crash
4. Drug overdose
5. Liver disease
These trends are not new; homicide and motor vehicle crashes have been
the overall second- and third-leading causes of premature death for each
of the last 10 years.
An aging population
In 2007, more than one million of LA County's 10.3 million residents
were over the age of 65 years and that number is expected to grow to 2.4
million by 2030. The county has already seen a dramatic increase in
mortality from Alzheimer's disease, and the trend can be expected to
"As modern medicine allows people to live longer, we in Public Health
find ourselves faced with a changing set of challenges," Dr. Fielding
said. From 1998-2007, the number of deaths attributed to Alzheimer's
disease increased 311 percent from 433 to 1,780. However, the actual
number of deaths related to this disease is far higher, and continues to
grow at a rapid rate.
"Our growing senior population brings with it the need for expanded
programs and services for them and their family caregivers to cope with
the wide range of medical, social, and financial difficulties that can
diminish quality of life," Dr. Fielding said.
Anyone interested in additional information about mortality in Los
Angeles County can explore the report's findings online at
www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/dca/dcareportspubs.htm, or by using the
L.A. HealthDataNow! tool, available at
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and
improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles
County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and
services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control,
and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000
employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more
about Public Health and the work we do, please visit
http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov, visit our YouTube channel at
http://www.youtube.com/lapublichealth, or follow us on Twitter:
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