Today’s news:

Highest, lowest death rate in city both in Queens neighborhoods

Part I

Deaths in New York City have fallen to an all-time low, although some of the highest rates of death occurred in the Rockaways.

Bayside, however, had the lowest death rate in the city.

“Despite a growing city, nearly 6,800 fewer New Yorkers died in 2009 than in 2002,” according to the 12-page annual report of the city Department of Health.

The city’s infant mortality rate fell to an all-time low of 5.3 deaths per 1,000 live births and average life expectancy held steady at 79.4 years, which exceeds the national average life span by more than a year.

“New Yorkers are living longer, healthier lives than ever before,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, the city health commissioner.

“This report gives us much to be proud of, but it also highlights continuing challenges,” Farley said. “Thirty percent of last year’s deaths occurred in people younger than 65, many of which could have been prevented. As we celebrate the progress we have made, we should recommit ourselves to fighting preventable illnesses, both as individuals and as a community.”

Health officials said heart disease was, as usual, the top cause of death, followed in order by cancer, influenza/pneumonia, diabetes and chronic low respiratory diseases.

For New Yorkers under 65, the leading causes of death were cancer, heart disease, HIV disease, psychoactive substances and accidents.

“While New Yorkers are living longer than ever before, deep disparities persist among different residents of different races, incomes and neighborhoods,” the report said.

In 2009, the most recent year for which the data is available, central Harlem’s death rate was nearly 40 percent higher than the citywide average of 8.8 vs. 6.3 deaths per 1,000 people. Other community districts with high death rates included Morrisania in the Bronx (8.5), Brownsville in Brooklyn (8.3) and East Harlem (8.3) and the Rockaways (8.0).

Bayside had the city’s lowest death rate with 3.7 deaths per 1,000 people, followed by Jackson Heights and Elmhurst/Corona (3.9).

Disparities persist in infant mortality as well. The rate among non-Hispanic blacks (9.5 per 1,000) was nearly twice the city average (5.3 per 1,000) and almost three times the rate among non-Hispanic whites (3.4 per 1,000). Asians and Pacific Islanders had the city’s lowest infant mortality rate (2.8 per 1,000). Rates among Puerto Rican and other Hispanic New Yorkers were 6.3 and 4.8, respectively.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

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