Life expectancy reaches new high in city: Mayor

By Karen Frantz

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Tuesday that life expectancy for New Yorkers is at an all-time high, outpacing life expectancy gains made in the rest of the country.

Bloomberg attributed the development to city policies and initiatives aimed at promoting better health, such as smoking prevention programs and expanded HIV testing and treatment, at a news conference at the city Health Department headquarters in Long Island City.

“Our willingness to invest in health care and bold interventions is paying off in improved health outcomes, decreased infant mortality and increased life expectancy,” Bloomberg said at the headquarters, at 42-09 28th St.

Babies born in the city in 2010 have an estimated life expectancy of 80.9 years, 2.2 years higher than the national average. The city’s life expectancy is also up by three years since 2001, higher than the national increase of 1.8 over the same time.

The greatest increase in life expectancy in the city was seen among African Americans, who were expected to live on average nearly four years longer in 2010 than in 2001.

The largest contributors to the life expectancy increase are fewer deaths from heart disease, cancer and HIV, according to a Health Department analysis of death certificate data.

In 2010, the HIV-related death rate was down by 11.3 percent since 2009 and cut by more than half since 2001. In addition, deaths from heart disease were also down by 27.1 percent in 2010 from 2001, due in part to a 30 percent decrease in the number of smokers since 2002 and improvements in care for the disease. Deaths from cancer also decreased by 6.5 percent between 2001 and 2010.

Several city interventions have directly sought to curb rates of HIV, heart disease and cancer and treat people with these illnesses.

For example, the city Health and Hospitals Corp. offers routine HIV testing, which links patients who are HIV-positive with medical care and treatment.

In addition, Bloomberg enacted several anti-smoking initiatives, such as a ban on smoking in most bars and restaurants and an excise tax on cigarettes.

Infant mortality is also at a record low, decreasing 23 percent since 2001 to 4.7 deaths in 1,000 births in 2011. The country only recorded a drop of 12 percent over the same period.

“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, who attended the news conference.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

More from Around New York