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Heart disease tops list of health risks in Queens

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AIDS has long been notorious as a cause of death throughout New York City and still is, but new statistics show the death toll from the disease in Queens is less than half that in Brooklyn, Manhattan or the Bronx.

Queens also has the city's lowest infant mortality rate at 4.6 per 1,000 births.

On a less positive note, more people die in Queens from one type of heart disease than anywhere else in the city.

These revelations are part of exhaustive data in a 60-page report card on the health of the city's 8 million residents, formally known as the New York City Department of Health's Summary of Vital Statistics for the year 2002.

The biggest news in the report is that the 59,651 people who died in 2002, the latest year such information is available, were the fewest to die in New York City than at any time since 1898 when the city was half its present size.

"While the overall number of deaths declined in 2002, more than 18,000 New Yorkers died before they reached the age of 65," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, Health commissioner. "Most of these deaths were preventable. More than half of those under 65 died of cancer, heart disease or HIV/AIDS. Nearly one of every six New Yorkers who died was killed by tobacco."

A total of 14,228 people died in Queens where the major causes of death were the same as everywhere else citywide: Heart disease was No. 1 followed by cancer and flu/pneumonia.

In most death categories, Queens trailed only Brooklyn in numbers of deaths from various causes, which health officials said is in part because Brooklyn has nearly 240,000 more people.

A total of 5,255 people in Queens died of chronic Ischemic Heart disease, a malady that blocks the flow of blood to the heart. It was the worst borough in that respect.

AIDS has exacted a heavy toll on New Yorkers for years, but 2002 statistics showed that Queens had fewer people die from AIDS than in the three other large boroughs. Deaths in Brooklyn totaled 545, Bronx 454, Manhattan 405 and Queens 189. Staten Island reported 49 AIDS deaths.

"This does not necessarily mean there were fewer cases of AIDS," said Lorna Thorpe, an epidemiologist of the Health Department."

"It could mean that fewer persons are taking part in unprotected (sex) activities in Queens," Thorpe said. "It is a very inexact thing to determine readily."

Other points from the report:

Queens led the city in deaths from accidental falls with 128 dead and accidental poisoning with 13.

Queens deaths from cancer: 3,010; Alzheimer's Disease: 50;

Suicide: 117; motor vehicle accidents: 110; Homicide 98; Parkinson's Disease: 27; atherosclerosis: 54.

Homicide declined citywide between 2000 and 2002 but was still the No. 1 killer of males 15 to 34 years old.

Community District 7 in Flushing led Queens in deaths from heart disease (930) along with deaths from cancer (387), accidental poisoning (39) and suicide (16).

Community District 12 in Jamaica led Queens in HIV/AIDS deaths (43), flu/pneumonia (46); diabetes (71), mental disorders due to substance and accidental poisoning (30), homicides (12), cerebrovascular disease (60) and chronic lower respiratory disease (59).

Community District 5 in Ridgewood had the most deaths from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis (14).

Queens reported 48,388 births in 2002 out of New York City's total of 228,007 with 18,572 abortions.

After those born in the United States (8,397), more people born in Italy (480) died in Queens in 2002, followed by those from Puerto Rico (373).

Births to all nationalities in Queens except Asians declined in 2002. Asian births by nationalities: Chinese 6,290, Indian 2,000, Bangladeshi, 1,461, Pakistani 1,352, Filipino 860, Korean 920. Other Asian 3,693.

Long Island Jewish Medical Center on the Queens border with Nassau reported 5,945 births, the most of any New York City hospital.

The Health Department said the new low in deaths would have been reported in 2001 had it not been for the 2,746 deaths in the World Trade Center attack on which the report included a special section.

The most popular baby names citywide in 2002 were (boys): 1. Michael, 2. Justin 3. Daniel 4. Matthaw 5. Christopher 6. Joseph 7. Anthony 8. Joshua 9. Nicholas.10 David.

Girls:

1. Ashley 2. Emily 3. Kayla 4. Brianna 5. Samantha 6. Sarah 7. Nicole 8. Jessica 9. Michelle 10. Isabella.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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