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There were 4,983 resident deaths in 1999, a crude death rate of 8.4 per 1,000 population, slightly higher than the 1998 rate of 8.3. The death rate has fluctuated between 8.1 and 8.6 since 1988; prior to that it had been slowly declining for over two decades. The death rate was 11.2 in 1960, 10.0 in 1970, and 9.0 in 1980. The Vermont crude death rate was slightly higher than the U.S. white crude death rate until 1970 when the rates converged and remained similar through 1980. Since 1981, Vermont's death rate has been slightly lower than the U.S. white rate. The preliminary 1999 U.S. white crude death rate is 9.2. Comparisons are made to the U.S. white rate because 99.6 percent of Vermont residents who died in 1999 were white (Table C-9).
For the past 40 years, the three leading causes of death in Vermont have been heart disease, cancer and stroke (Table C-1). Heart disease and cancer accounted for 51.9 percent of the deaths in 1999. The heart disease crude death rate peaked in the 1960's at 439 deaths per 100,000 population. Since then, the rate has declined, and was 225 per 100,000 in 1999. The crude death rate from stroke (or cerebrovascular disease), the third leading cause, has also decreased significantly from a peak of 132 in the early 1960's to 57.9 in 1999. These dramatic declines in heart disease and stroke are even more remarkable given that the average age of the population has increased. Crude death rates for cancer (or malignant neoplasms) have risen steadily over the past few decades from 167 in the period from 1969 to 1971 to 211 in 1999. This trend is in part a result of the aging population and the rising death rates for lung cancer.
Chronic lower respiratory disease (formerly referred to as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) has been the fourth leading cause of death in Vermont since 1985. The crude death rate from this cause has increased from 33.0 in the period from 1979 to 1981 to 50.5 in 1999.
Accidents (or unintentional injuries) and diabetes were the fifth and sixth leading causes of deaths in Vermont in 1999, up from sixth and seventh in 1998. The crude death rate from accidents peaked at 58.4 in the period from 1969 to 1971 and declined to 31.7 in 1994 to 1996. In recent years, the death rate from accidents has increased, and in 1999 was 35.0 per 100,000 population. Diabetes mortality has generally increased over the last 10 years, and in 1999 the crude rate was 30.1 per 100,000 population.
Influenza and pneumonia dropped from the fifth leading cause to the seventh, with a crude rate of 22.1 deaths per 100,000 in 1999. Alzheimer's disease advanced from the tenth to the eighth leading cause with a crude rate of 21.4 in 1999.
The crude death rate for intentional self-harm (or suicide) has been relatively stable over the past 30 years although it dropped from the eighth to the ninth leading cause of death in Vermont. Nephritis/nephrosis (or kidney diseases) was the tenth leading cause with a 1999 crude rate of 10.3.
The leading causes of death varied considerably with age (Tables C-2 and C-14). Among infants, the leading causes of death were prematurity and related causes. Unintentional injuries were the leading cause of death for people age 5 to 34. Cancer, followed by heart disease, were the leading causes of death among people ages 35 to 74. After age 75, heart disease was the leading cause of death.
Death rates dramatically increase after age 75. People age 75 and over accounted for 60 percent of total deaths, but comprise only 5.9 percent of the total population. Except for influenza and pneumonia, the leading causes of death in this age group are all chronic diseases.
Deaths occurring in a hospital accounted for 43.1 of Vermont resident deaths (Table C-21) down from 62 percent in 1980 and 53 percent in 1990. In 1999, 23.4 percent of Vermont deaths occurred at home, and 24.9 percent occurred in a nursing home.
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