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Premature Death -- United States

In MMWR 1982;31:109-10, Table V was introduced to reflect CDC's increased responsibility for promoting actions that reduce premature mortality. For 1980, causes of death were listed in a column in decreasing order of the years of potential life lost to age 65. In this issue, the order has been changed to reflect data for 1981.

From 1980 to 1981, the years of potential life lost for persons between ages 1 and 65 years decreased 1.3%. A 3.6% decrease in years of potential life lost in motor vehicle and other accidents accounted for a large proportion of the overall decrease; however, accidents remain the leading cause of premature loss of life. Although the number of deaths from suicide and homicide decreased 1.3%, the number of years of potential life lost from these causes increased slightly, 0.1%, a shift that may be attributed to a 5.9% increase in the number of suicides of persons 1-34 years old. Suicide, homicide, and accidents caused 40.4% of the total years of potential life lost in 1981.

Generally, the column for years of potential life lost in 1981 reflects relatively little change from that in 1980. Cerebrovascular diseases have replaced chronic liver disease and cirrhosis as the fourth leading cause, although both causes demonstrated a slight decrease in years of potential life lost. Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and allied conditions replaced diabetes mellitus as the eighth leading cause. Although the contribution of these pulmonary diseases to all causes of death in 1981 increased only from 1.1% to 1.2%, they caused a 5.2% increase in the number of years of potential life lost. The number of deaths attributed to chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and allied conditions increased 22.8% for persons between the ages of 1 and 44 years. Reported by Div of Surveillance and Epidemiologic Studies, Epidemiology Program Office, CDC.

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**Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to mmwrq@cdc.gov.

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