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Perspectives in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Changes in Premature Mortality -- United States, 1984-1985

Premature mortality in the United States, as measured in total years of potential life lost (YPLL) before age 65, increased from 11,788,125 in 1984 to 11,844,475 in 1985, an increase of 0.5%. This is the second straight year with an increase in total YPLL; prior to this increase, there had been 3 years of gradual decline. However, the rate of YPLL/1,000 persons has decreased every year since 1980. In 1985, the rate decreased 0.3% from the 1984 level; this is explained by an increase of 1.7 million in the number of persons under age 65 in the U.S. population from 1984 to 1985.

A major reason for the increase in total YPLL is the greater number of deaths from the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The YPLL due to AIDS increased from 82,885 in 1984 to 152,595 in 1985; this represented a rate increase of 82.4%.

Death due to AIDS became the 11th leading cause of YPLL in 1985; in 1984, it was the 13th leading cause. The relative rankings of the remaining 12 leading causes of YPLL did not change. Unintentional injuries, malignancies, and heart disease continue to be the three leading causes of YPLL in the United States.

The rate of YPLL/1,000 persons increased for seven of the 13 leading causes. As with total YPLL, the most notable rate increase was for AIDS. Other increases in the rate of YPLL occurred for diabetes (6.4%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (4.5%), pneumonia and influenza (2.5%), heart disease (1.5%), congenital anomalies (0.6%), and diseases of the liver and cirrhosis (0.3%). Declines in the rate of YPLL were noted for prematurity (7.0%), cerebrovascular diseases (5.8%), unintentional injuries (4.2%), sudden infant death syndrome (1.9%), suicide and homicide (1.5%), and malignancies (0.3%) (Figure 2).

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