The U.S. mortality rate has dropped 60% over 75 years, and in the past 40 years significant gains in preventing and treating heart disease and stroke likely helped push the decline even as other diseases increased, said Donna Hoyert of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. In 1935, heart disease, cancer and stroke were among the top five causes of death, as they were in every year covered by the CDC's report.

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