Mortality Rates Decline in LA County

The mortality rate in Los Angeles County declined 19 percent over a decade, 6 percent more than the national decline, according to a new report, released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that looked at mortality rates between 2001 and 2010.

“We’re making great progress against several leading causes of death,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health in LA County. “Notable over this ten year period were a 37 percent drop in coronary heart disease death rates, and a 35 percent decline in the stroke death rate,” said Fielding. But he also noted that despite the decline, in 2010, coronary heart disease and stroke still claimed 12,635 and 3,278 lives respectively, and were the first and second leading causes of death in LA County that year.

Other important reductions in mortality rates included:

• 50% decline for HIV
• 31% decline for pneumonia/influenza
• 22 % decline in lung cancer cases
• 17 percent decline for emphysema and other forms of chronic lung disease
• 13 percent decline in diabetes

However, not all population groups have benefited equally, and for most of the leading causes of death, the highest death rates are among black males, according to the report data. “Disparities still exist by gender, race/ethnicity, and geographic area, and we are seeking ways to reduce these disparities. We continue to work with our many partners to close the gaps,” said Dr. Fielding.

While the decline in mortality rates is significant, the county also saw a rapid increase in death rates from Alzheimer’s disease, which more than doubled, from 905 to 2242 between 2001 and 2010. According to the new report, in 2001, Alzheimer’s disease was the 11th-leading cause of death in the county. By 2010, it moved up to the fifth-leading cause of death overall and the third-leading cause of death for women. The increase in number of

Alzheimer’s disease deaths largely reflects the County’s aging population, as well as increased awareness of the disease, according to Dr. Fielding. “As the baby boomer generation ages, the burden of Alzheimer’s disease are expected to increase significantly,” said Dr. Fielding. “More effective treatments are needed, as are programs that support both patients and caregivers.”

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