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L.A. County residents living longer, Compton has lowest life expectancy, La Canada Flintridge highest

July 27, 2010 | 12:08 pm

Los Angeles County residents are living longer than ever, with an average life expectancy of more than 80 years, public health officials announced Tuesday. But economic and racial disparities persist, with some minorities and low-income residents dying sooner than wealthier neighbors.

Lifemap The average life expectancy in the county was 80.3 years, according to a Department of Public Health analysis of county mortality data for 2006, the most recent year available.

Average life expectancy has steadily increased from 75.8 years in 1991, the first year available.

Women live an average of 82.9 years, men 77.6 years. Coronary heart disease was the leading cause of premature death for both sexes, followed by homicide for men and breast cancer for women.

Asian and Pacific Islander women had the longest average life expectancy, 86.9 years, while black men had the shortest, 69.4 years, according to the study.

Public health officials examined life expectancy in 103 cities and unincorporated areas of the county with populations of more than 15,000. They also assessed each of the 15 Los Angeles City Council districts.

Of the cities, La Canada Flintridge had the highest life expectancy, 87.8 years, while Compton had the lowest, 75.7 years.

“To identify continuing wide gaps between wealthy and less wealthy communities and between different ethnic groups is sobering and disconcerting,” said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the county director of public health, in a Tuesday statement.

Fielding said he was particularly troubled to see residents of low-income areas such as Westmont dying much sooner than those in wealthier areas nearby, such as Culver City.

“Why should an unincorporated community in South L.A. have an average life expectancy that is 10 years lower than a city only 10 miles away? It’s important to examine these disparities and seek answers as to how to reduce these unacceptable differences.”

Deathtable Fielding said he believed that people in low-income areas may see their lifespans shortened due to a lack of education, jobs, healthy food, parks and other places to exercise.

Eliminating homicides, the leading cause of premature death among black males in L.A. County, "would likely have the greatest impact in reducing the disparity in life expectancy between black males and males of other racial/ethnic groups," according to the authors of the report. Black men have the lowest life expectancy, 69.4 years, the lowest of any group by nearly 8 years.

Communities with the highest life expectancy included Agoura Hills (83.4 years), Arcadia (84.7 years), Beverly Hills (85.6 years), East San Gabriel (85 years), Rowland Heights (85.3 years), and Walnut (86.6 years).

Communities with the lowest life expectancy included Florence-Graham (76.7 years), Inglewood (77 years), Lancaster (76 years), Lynwood (77.7 years), Westmont (72.4 years), and Willowbrook (75.6 years).

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Lee Wesley Gibson, 100, gives his friend Evelyn Dotson, 82, a kiss while visiting her at her home in Los Angeles. Gibson is the oldest surviving Pullman porter, Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times July 3 2010

Map: Life expectancy at birth by location in L.A. County. Source: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Chart: Leading causes of premature death by sex. Source: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health