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May 8, 1996

Increasing US Mortality From Infectious Diseases

Author Affiliations

Highland Hospital Rochester, NY

JAMA. 1996;275(18):1400. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530420027023

To the Editor.  —While reading the thoughtful analysis of trends in infectious diseases mortality by Dr Pinner and colleagues,1 I was troubled that something is missing in the way we look at mortality data. Fewer cardiovascular deaths, for example, mean that more people will live long enough to develop malignancies or Alzheimer disease. Pneumonia can be the precipitating event in a "good death" for a nonagenarian. I would urge authors and editors to provide readers with a little more context for mortality statistics, using years of potential life lost or other similar tools. We need to be open to the possibility that a rising death rate for some diseases could actually be a good sign.