Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley announced this past week that life expectancy in New York City has hit a record high, outpacing the national trend.
Influenced by New York City’s health initiatives, babies born in New York City in 2010 have the record high estimated life expectancy of 80.9 years – 2.2 more years than the current national average of 78.7. New York City’s life expectancy rate has increased by three years since 2001, far greater than the nationwide increase of nearly 1.8 years over the same period.
The greatest increase in New York City life expectancy across the major race/ethnic groups was in African-Americans, whose life expectancy at birth increased 3.8 years from 2001 to 2010. Additionally, the city’s infant mortality rate fell in 2011 to an all-time low of 4.7 deaths per 1,000 live births – a decrease of 23 percent since 2001 and nearly twice the national decrease of 12 percent over the same time period. The City’s health interventions – including smoking prevention programs and expanded HIV testing and treatment – have contributed to this success, with reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease, cancer and HIV playing the largest role in the increase in life expectancy. The Mayor made the announcement at the City’s Health Department Headquarters in Long Island City.
“Not only are New Yorkers living longer, but our improvements continue to outpace the gains in the rest of the nation,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Our willingness to invest in health care and bold interventions is paying off in improved health outcomes, decreased infant mortality and increased life expectancy.”
“Between the decrease in infant mortality and increase in life expectancy, the future health of New Yorkers has never looked better,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “Improvements in medical care, increased outreach to communities and innovative ideas are making the difference and saving lives.”
“Life expectancy and infant mortality are excellent measures of the overall health of a population, and these statistics show that New York City is increasingly a healthy place in which to live, work and raise a family,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. “The City’s efforts to cut smoking, improve care for those with high blood pressure and high cholesterol and treat HIV infection are working.”
From 2001 to 2010, New York City life expectancy rate at birth increased by three years, far greater than the nationwide increase of nearly 1.8 years. The life expectancy of both men (78.1 years) and women (83.3 years) increased and are better than the nationwide averages for both sexes. The overall death rate hit an all-time low of 6.4 per 1,000 population in 2010: almost 8,000 fewer people died than in 2000.
The additional years of expected life for 40-year-olds in New York City increased by 2.5 years from 2001 to 2010, a substantially greater gain than the 1.3 year increase for the same age group in the U.S. as a whole. At the same time, life expectancy for 70 year-olds in New York City increased 1.5 years, compared with .9 years for the nation. In 2010, the life expectancy for a 40-year old in New York City was 82.3, compared with 80.5 in the United States, while the life expectancy for a 70 year old in New York City 87, compared to 85.5 nationwide. Not only did the City’s life expectancy rate surpass the national rate, it improved faster than any major city for both women and men.
The Health Department analyzed data from death certificates and determined that improvements in prevention and treatment among the following diseases and conditions contributed the most to the increase in life expectancy.
Infant Mortality – New York City’s infant mortality rate fell in 2011 to an all-time low of 4.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. This is a decrease of 23 percent since 2001 and an improvement nearly twice the national decrease of 12 percent over the same time period. The improvements are seen across all groups: For infants born to non-Hispanic whites, there has been a 26 percent drop, 19 percent for infants born to non-Hispanic blacks and 13 percent for infants born to Hispanics. These improvements exceed the city’s Take Care New York goal to reduce the infant mortality rate to 5.0 this year and also went beyond the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Healthy People 2020 goal of 6.0 deaths per 1,000 live births.
New York City continues to address persistent racial/ethnic disparities in infant mortality and promote maternal and infant health through programs including: the Nurse-Family Partnership, an evidence-based nurse home-visiting program that works with low income, first-time mothers, their infants, and their families to improve maternal and child health outcomes including reductions in child abuse and neglect, build secure relationships between parents and children, and promote education and employment; the Newborn Home Visiting Program which promotes breastfeeding, safe sleep and infant safety; the Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative, funded by the City Council, which works with community-based organizations in the most-affected neighborhoods, supporting workshops, outreach, case management, and peer education; breastfeeding promotion, and the Safe Sleep Initiative to prevent infant deaths due to accidental injury.
Increased improvements in women’s health before pregnancy, including assuring that all women have easy access to primary care services, healthy foods and exercise, are essential to reduce this disparity and to continue to see reductions in infant mortality.
HIV infection-related disease – Early identification and treatment of HIV infection has greatly reduced HIV-related mortality. The mortality rate from HIV infection is declining at a faster rate than other causes of death in New York City; the rate is down by 11.3 percent from 2009 to 2010 and 53 percent from 2001 to 2010.
New York City has led the way in HIV health interventions; the City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, the largest provider of HIV primary care in New York City began offering HIV testing as a routine part of medical care five years before New York State began requiring that medical providers do so. The City’s “The Bronx Knows” borough-wide HIV testing initiative has partnered with community organizations to conduct more than 600,000 HIV tests in three years and “Brooklyn Knows” in just two year’s time has conducted over 300,000 tests that have enabled people from Williamsburg to Coney Island to learn their HIV status. Since 2005, HHC has diagnosed 10,700 HIV positive individuals, and linked and retained thousands in HIV primary care, improving their health and the health of the community.
More New Yorkers are getting tested than ever before, and those testing positive are getting into treatment faster, with more consistent care and treatment; more than 90 percent of patients diagnosed positive at HHC facilities are linked to life-saving HIV medical care and treatment within 90 days of being diagnosed. In Fiscal Year 2011 alone, HHC facilities tested 195,516 patients – more than three times the number tested just six years earlier and preliminary data suggest that approximately 3,400 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in New York City in 2011, down 3.6 percent from 2010 and down 35 percent from 2002.
Heart disease & cancer – Death rate from heart disease is down by 27.1 percent from 2001 to 2010. This sharp decrease is attributable in part to a 30 percent decrease in the number of smokers since 2002, and in part to improvements in care for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease. Overall cancer mortality rate has decreased by 6.5 percent since 2001 from 174.2 to 162.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2010.
The Mayor’s anti-smoking efforts – including hard-hitting public health education campaigns, changes in legislation such as the 2002 Smoke-Free Air Act and excise taxes on cigarettes, and Nicotine Patch and Gum Giveaway program, – have resulted in the City’s 2011 smoking rate, with only 14.8 out of 100 New Yorkers still smoking. Smoking among teenagers has also dropped dramatically from 2001 to 2011 with the proportion of public high school students who smoke cut by more than half, from 18 percent to 8.5 percent.
The Annual Summary of Vital Statistics, the Health Department’s yearly report of births and deaths in New York City, is compiled by the agency’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. The most up-to-date statistics are available by searching for Vital Statistics on nyc.gov and the full 2011 report will be released later this month. Vital Statistics summaries dating as far back as 1961 are also available on that site. To learn how to obtain a birth or death certificate, visit nyc.gov or call 311.