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The evolution of mortality in America, presented as beautiful graphs


While everyone (and everything) dies in time, just how and when they die has changed a lot in the past few decades; it's not necessarily clear how you're likely to kick the bucket. Thankfully, Bloomberg has used visual data to make sense of death trends in the US. Some trends aren't surprising -- medicine, science and societal factors have helped Americans both live longer and avoid unnatural ends, like murders. As of 2010, roughly a third of all deaths were of people 85 and older. That's a big jump from 1968, when just 13 percent of people would live to become octogenarians.

However, there are a few notable quirks in the numbers. AIDS was the biggest killer among young people for several years until education and treatments took big strides forward. Also, there hasn't been much progress in lowering deaths among middle-aged people in recent years -- reductions in disease rates among the 45- to 54-year-old crowd have been countered by rises in drug-related fatalities and suicide. And there's a downside to medical technology helping people survive further into old age, since successes in fighting cancer and heart disease have been partly offset by increases in slow-but-deadly conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia. The data may be an all too powerful reminder of your mortality, then, but it's at least reassuring to know that the graphs are mostly moving in the right direction.

[Image credit: Louise Docker, Flickr]

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