Entries in Mortality Rates (4)


US Newborn Mortality Rate Higher than 40 Countries

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The newborn death rate in the United States is higher than in 40 other countries including Malaysia, Cuba and Poland, according to a new study. The study, published in the journal PLoS Medicine, examines data from 190 countries, finding that newborn deaths have declined over the past 20 years from 4.6 million in 1999 to 3.3 million in 2009.

But despite the overall decline, infant mortality has dropped much more slowly than other age groups, accounting for 41 percent of child deaths worldwide.

While the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is high compared with other wealthy countries, 99 percent of infant mortality occurs in low-income countries. Just five -- India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and the Democratic Republic of Congo -- account for more than half of the 3.3 million annual newborn deaths. India alone has more than 900,000 a year.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mortality Rates for Heart Failure Patients Higher if Health Literacy Is Low

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says lack of knowledge about basic health presents a higher risk of death for heart failure patients.

Nearly one in five heart failure patients have low health literacy, which makes them twice as likely to die from the condition, the study says.

The degree to which a person can obtain, process and understand basic health information and seek services that aid in making necessary health choices is what the Institute of Medicine regards as health literacy.

Heart failure often results in significant lifestyle changes, taking of various medications and sometimes surgery.  If the patient is unable to self-monitor on a consistent basis, managing the condition becomes quite difficult.

"Although patients with heart failure are frequently hospitalized, much care for heart failure is performed on a daily basis by individual patients outside of the hospital," the authors write in JAMA. "This self-care requires integration and application of knowledge and skills.  Therefore, an adequate level of health literacy is likely critical."

Over an eight-year period, researchers followed more than 1,500 heart failure patients for up to a year.  To determine each participant's level of health literacy, they asked three questions:

1.  How often do you have someone help you read hospital materials?
2.  How often do you have problems learning about your medical condition because of difficulty reading hospital materials?
3.  How confident are you filling out forms by yourself?

Low health literacy was apparent in 17.5 percent of the patients, according to the study's results.  Among those with low health literacy, the majority tended to be older adults of lower socioeconomic status.  According to the data, they were also less likely to have completed high school and had higher rates of other illness such as diabetes, stroke or high blood pressure.

Despite the more frequent cases of low health literacy among the elderly, researchers say even young, insured patients with access to health care services experience higher mortality rates when health literacy is low.

Copyright 2011 ABC News radio


Report: US Mortality Rate Falls to All Time Low

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The number of deaths in the U.S. fell for the tenth straight year in 2009, reaching an all time low, according to a new report released Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report found that there were 741 deaths per a population of 100,000, marking a 2.3 percent drop from the 2008 rate of 758.7.  More specifically, the report noted that there were 2,436,682 deaths in the U.S. in 2009 compared to 2,473,018 the previous year.

The death rates among some of the leading causes of death also dropped significantly from 2008, with heart disease declining by 3.7 percent, cancer by 1.1 percent, stroke by 4.2 percent and homicide by 6.8 percent.

Moreover, the mortality rate for infants also hit a record low in 2009, falling to 6.42 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to 2008's rate of 6.59.

On another note, the report also found that life expectancy at birth went up by 0.2 years since 2008 to 78.2.

The report, entitled Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2009, was based on more than 96 percent of death certificates reported through the National Vital Statistics System from all 50 U.S. states.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Past Smoking Trends, Obesity to Blame for Shorter Lifespans in US

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Americans have shorter lifespans compared to people in other high-income nations, and smoking and obesity are to blame, according to a new report.

Despite spending more money on health care than any other country, the report by the National Research Council found that life expectancy in the U.S. has been rising but slowly in comparison to countries like Japan and Australia. 

One main culprit for this lag has been America's past with smoking.  The report says mortality rates are still being affected today by smoking habits 30 to 50 years ago, when smoking was more widespread in the U.S. than in Europe or Japan.

Reductions in smoking in the U.S. over the last 20 years, however, will likely counter these findings in the upcoming decades, when the benefits begin to register.  The report predicts that men's life expectancies will improve fairly quickly as a result.  Mortality rates for women in the U.S., on the other hand, are predicted to decline slowly because women's smoking behavior peaked later than men's.

Obesity is also to blame for the lag in life expectancies, possibly accounting for a fifth to a third of the shortfall in the U.S., according to the report.  If obesity rates continue to rise, it could offset any improvements to come from reductions in smoking.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio