After five decades as the third-leading cause of death in the United States, stroke slipped to fourth place in 2008, edged out by chronic lower respiratory disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Preliminary figures for 2008 also showed that life expectancy slipped slightly in 2008, declining from 77.9 years in 2007 to 77.8 in 2008.
Heart disease and cancer remained the two leading causes of death, accounting for 48% of all deaths. In fifth through 10th places were accidents, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, influenza/pneumonia, kidney diseases, and septicemia. Overall, there were 2,473,018 deaths in the United States that year, 49,306 more than in the preceding year.