Health Care

Another year, another decrease in life expectancy in the US

Another year, another decrease in life expectancy in the US”

Life expectancy for the average person in the us dropped slightly in 2017, marking the second time in recent years that USA life expectancy has fallen, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet a second CDC report revealed that the rate of drug overdoses jumped 9.6 percent between 2016 and 2017, totaling 70,237 deaths a year ago.

As a result, the average life span in America dropped to "78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2016", said the report, which contains the first public release of final mortality data for 2017.

Place also mattered when it came to drug overdose deaths, with some states registering higher numbers than others, the report shows. But it suggests that the decrease in 2015 was more than a blip-and it points to unfolding stories about health and death in the United States. Meanwhile, there were increases in seven others - suicide, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's, flu/pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory diseases and unintentional injuries. The CDC report, "Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2017", said overdose deaths rose 10 percent previous year.

For males, the suicide rate increased 26 percent from 17.8 in 1999 to 22.4 in 2017, while the rate for women increased 53 percent over the same time frame, according to the CDC.

More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses past year alone, according to the CDC.

The recent increases in drug overdose deaths have been so steep that they have contributed to reductions in the country's life expectancy over the past three years and are the leading cause of death for adults under 55. Last year's 13 percent increase in opioid deaths was due nearly entirely to a 47 percent increase in deaths involving fentanyl and its analogs, since deaths involving heroin and pain pills stayed about the same, while deaths involving methadone fell.

Among the nation's top 10 leading causes of death in 2017, only the cancer death rate fell.

The suicide rate in 2017 was the highest in 50 years reaching roughly 47,000 cases (up from just below 45,000 the previous year).


"I think this is a very dismal picture of health in the United States", Joshua M. Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told The Washington Post.

The rate increased to 39 per 100,000 among 35- to 44-year-olds. These synthetic opioids account for approximately double the number of deaths caused by natural and semisynthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone, which saw a leveling off in associated deaths between 2016 and 2017. The 2017-2018 flu season was one of the worst in more than a decade, and some of the deaths from early in that season appeared in the new death dates.

The suicide rate in the most rural counties is almost double that in the most urban ones, the data shows.

Overall, suicides increased by a third between 1999 and 2017, the report showed.

In 2017, the suicide rate for the most rural counties (20 per 100,000) outpaced that in the most urban counties (about 11 per 100,000).

"There has been an assumption at times that overdoses fit into one of two categories: they're intentional or they're unintentional", she says.

As the USA grapples with an opioid crisis, overdoses claim more and more lives, the CDC report found.

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