Los Angeles County's death rate has dropped 19 percent in a decade — greater than the national decline of 13 percent.
But county health department figures released Monday also contained more troubling statistics — including a continuing disparity along racial and ethnic lines.
Homicide was the leading cause of death for black and Hispanic men 15 to 44 years old, and black men had the highest overall death rate.
Homicide also ranked higher for black and Hispanic people in all premature deaths, which the report defined as dying before 75 years old. Behind coronary heart disease, homicide was the second leading cause of premature deaths for both groups. Homicide did not even appear in the top five for whites and Asian and Pacific Islanders.
Leading causes of premature death (before 75), by ethnicity:
Among causes of premature deaths overall, homicide remained in second place, followed by suicide, car crashes and liver disease.
Also, the mortality rate soared for Alzheimer's disease, reflecting an aging population.
In a more positive trend, the rate of coronary heart disease — the overall leading cause of death — dipped more than a third between 2001 and 2010. There also were double-digit death-rate declines for stroke, pneumonia and lung cancer and a 50-percent drop for HIV.
10 leading causes of death in L.A. County: