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Current Trends Years of Potential Life Lost Before Ages 65 and 85 -- United States, 1987 and 1988

Based on final mortality data from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, there were 12,074,193 years of potential life lost (YPLL) before age 65 in the United States in 1987 (Table 1)--approximately the same as that previously reported on the basis of provisional data (12,045,778 YPLL before age 65) (1). YPLL before age 65 is a measure of mortality that reflects only deaths occurring before age 65 (2). Provisional mortality data for 1988 show 12,281,741 YPLL before age 65--an increase of 1.7% over final data for 1987. As in previous MMWR reports, YPLL before age 65 for 1987 and 1988 are calculated for the 15 leading causes of death (3) and certain additional conditions of infancy.

In 1988, unintentional injuries remained the leading cause of YPLL before age 65 (18.9%), followed by cancers at all sites (14.7%), diseases of the heart (11.9%), suicide and homicide (11.1%), and congenital anomalies (5.5%). From 1987 to 1988, YPLL before age 65 caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) increased by 30% to become the sixth leading cause of YPLL before age 65 (Table 1). YPLL before age 65 attributable to diabetes and to homicide increased by 6% each, while YPLL before age 65 attributable to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) decreased by 12%.

YPLL before age 85 reflect deaths occurring before age 85. In 1988, of the 23,398,098 YPLL before age 85, diseases of the heart were the leading cause (22.9%), followed by cancers (20.1%), unintentional injuries (16.7%), suicide and homicide (6.2%), and cerebrovascular diseases (3.9%). From 1987 to 1988, YPLL before age 85 associated with HIV/AIDS increased 30% to become the ninth leading cause of YPLL before age 85. Suicide and pneumonia/influenza increased by 6%, diabetes by 5%, and congenital anomalies by 4%; YPLL before age 85 associated with SIDS declined by 12%. Reported by: Div of Surveillance and Epidemiologic Studies, Epidemiology Program Office, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: Crude mortality rates weight all deaths equally; in comparison, YPLL before age 65 and YPLL before age 85 emphasize deaths among younger persons. Measures of YPLL emphasize deaths among younger persons in two ways: 1) deaths occurring beyond a specific cutoff age are not counted, and 2) deaths occurring at younger ages are weighted more heavily. YPLL before age 85 emphasize deaths among younger persons less than does YPLL before age 65. In 1988, 28.6% of deaths occurred before age 65 and an additional 50.3% occurred before age 85.

Based on both crude mortality and YPLL measures, the largest change from 1987 to 1988 was the increase in HIV/AIDS-associated mortality. Although HIV/AIDS deaths accounted for only 3.8% of YPLL before age 65, they accounted for more than one half the 1.7% increase in YPLL before age 65 from 1987 to 1988.


  1. CDC. Years of potential life lost before age 65--United States. MMWR 1987;38:27-9.

  2. CDC. Premature mortality in the United States. MMWR 1986;35(no. 2S).

  3. NCHS. Annual summary of births, marriages, divorces, and deaths: United States, 1988. Hyattsville, Maryland: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1989. (Monthly vital statistics report; vol 37, no. 13).

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