WEDNESDAY, Dec. 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) — From 2019 to 2020, there was a 16.8 percent increase in the age-adjusted death rate in the United States, according to a December data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

Sherry L. Murphy, from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues used data from the National Vital Statistics System to examine 2020 U.S. mortality data on deaths and death rates by demographic and medical characteristics.

The researchers found that for the U.S. population in 2020, life expectancy was 77.0 years, which marked a decrease of 1.8 years from 2019. From 2019 to 2020, there was a 16.8 percent increase in the age-adjusted death rate, from 715.2 to 835.4 deaths per 100,000 population. From 2019 to 2020, age-specific death rates increased for each age group aged 15 years and older. In 2020, nine of the 10 leading causes of death remained the same as in 2019; five causes switched rank. The two leading causes of death continued to be heart disease and cancer, with COVID-19 the third leading cause of death in 2020. From 2019 to 2020, the infant mortality rate decreased 2.9 percent to a record low of 541.9 infant deaths per 100,000 live births.

“From 2019 to 2020, the age-adjusted death rate for the total population increased 16.8 percent,” the authors write. “This single-year increase is the largest since the first year that annual mortality data for the entire United States became available.”

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