US life expectancy declines, as Alzheimer's disease deaths increase


A new report on mortality in the United States shows a decrease in life expectancy statistics for the first time in more than two decades.

Data from the National Center for Health Statistics released on Thursday indicates life expectancy at birth for the total U.S. population in 2015 was 78.8 years -- a 0.1 year decrease from 2014's expectancy of 78.9 years.

The life expectancy for males decreased by 0.2 years from 76.5 years in 2014 to 76.3 years in 2015. Females saw a 0.1 year decrease from 81.3 years in 2014 to 81.2 years in 2015.

The report also finds American women continue to have a longer projected lifespan than their male counterparts. The difference in life expectancy between females and males increased by 0.1 years from 4.8 years in 2014 to 4.9 years in 2015. In short, women continue to have a longer projected life than men.

As for the causes of death behind these life expectancy statistics, the 10 leading causes of death in 2015 so no change compared to those of 2014. These 10 causes accounted for 74.2 percent of all deaths in the United States in 2015.

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For eight of the 10 leading causes, the age-adjusted death rates did see an increase between 2014 and 2015. Notably, the rate increased 0.9 percent for heart disease -- the biggest killer in the U.S. by far. Other top causes of death saw increases as well, including 6.7 percent for unintentional injuries, 3 percent for stroke, and 2.3 percent for suicide.

Alzheimer's disease saw the largest increase out of any leading cause of death -- with a 15.7 percent bump over 2014 numbers. Alzheimer's disease accounted for than 108,227 deaths in 2015.

The only leading cause of death to see a rate decrease was cancer, with a 1.7 percent decline from 2014 to 2015.

In 2015, life expectancy at age 65 for the total population was 19.4 years, the same as in 2014. Life expectancy at age 65 was 20.6 years for females and 18.0 years for males, both unchanged from 2014. The difference in life expectancy at age 65 between females and males remained at 2.6 years in 2015.

The infant mortality rate of 589.5 infant deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015 was not significantly different from that in 2014, while congenital malformations remained the main cause of death within this demographic.

Among varying race, ethnicity and sex groups, the age-adjusted death rate increased in 2015 from 2014 for non-Hispanic black males by .9 percent, non-Hispanic white males by 1 percent and non-Hispanic white females by 1.6 percent. Rates did not change significantly for non-Hispanic black females, Hispanic males, and Hispanic females from 2014 to 2015.