Mass. residents living longer, says new report

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BOSTON —

Massachusetts residents are living longer while the number of deaths attributed to AIDS is on the decline, according to a decade-long study by the Public Health Department.

The report released Wednesday also found that deaths from cancer, heart disease, stroke, influenza, pneumonia, and chronic lower respiratory disease also dropped between 2000 and 2009.

The report said the declines may be related to prevention, early detection, and better treatment.

Life expectancy in Massachusetts reached an all-time high of 80.7 years in 2009, a gain of 2.2 years since 2000 and higher than the average national life expectancy of 78.5 years, according to the report.

The toll from AIDS also continued to ease.

In 2009, there were 124 AIDS deaths in Massachusetts, the lowest number since the peak of the epidemic in 1994, when the state experienced nearly 1,000 AIDS deaths.

The statistics also showed that three-fourths of AIDS deaths involved people age 45 or older, suggesting people are living longer with the disease.

The study also contained some sobering findings.

The report found that suicide rates in Massachusetts have been increasing each year since 2000, while homicide rates have remained stable.

The study also found that poisonings — predominantly from overdoses of opioids like heroin, oxycodone, morphine, codeine, and methadone — were the leading cause of deaths from injury in Massachusetts, increasing 5 percent since 2000.

Falls were the second cause of death from injury in Massachusetts, and they have continued to increase at an average of 11 percent per year since 2000. The majority of fall-related deaths occurred among persons aged 65 or older.

The report also found higher deaths rates in some racial groups.

Blacks continue to have the highest infant mortality rate among all race and ethnic groups at 7.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, followed by Hispanics at 7.1 deaths and whites at 4.1 deaths.

The infant mortality rate for blacks has been declining since 2000.

Gov. Deval Patrick credited the generally positive health outcomes to the state’s focus on expanding access to health care, including the 2006 health care overhaul, which became the blueprint for the national health care law signed by President Barack Obama in 2010.

Online: Public Health Department study: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/research-epi/death-report-09.pdf