Life Expectancy in the U.S. Has Declined, Again

Naloxone is an antidote that can help reverse drug overdoses

John Minchillo Associated Press

Declining life expectancy is linked to rising mortality, and 2017 saw statistically significant increases in deaths from a handful of major medical issues-stroke, Alzheimer's, and the flu, for example. From 1999 to 2017, the overdose rate soared from 6.1 per 100,000 to 21.7 per 100,000. The elevated rate of these deaths, categorized as "unintentional injuries", was seen across both sexes and all age groups. In 2017, among people age 15 and older, rates were highest for adults age 25-34 and 35-44 at 38.4 and 39.0 per 100,000, respectively. A tally of all drug overdoses showed 124 deaths, down from 132 the year prior; the count for opioid-related deaths showed an increase from 96 to 101.

Place also mattered when it came to drug overdose deaths, with some states registering higher numbers than others, the report shows.

CDC figures showed that a total of 70,237 people in the United States died of overdoses in 2017, almost 6,600 more than in 2016. The rates of drug overdose deaths involving heroin, natural and semisynthetic opioids and methadone were essentially unchanged from 2016.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there were more than 2.8 million deaths nationwide in 2017. "Any single death is a awful loss, and my focus is on how we can prevent any more".

The Associated Press says the increase is partly a result of the nation's growing, aging population. It is the 10th highest cause of death for all age groups.

The director of the CDC, Dr. Robert Redfield, commented on the situation, stating, "These sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable". In the previous year there were 45,000 suicides.

"The latest CDC data show that the USA life expectancy has declined over the past few years". In years past, declines in heart disease deaths were enough to offset increases in some other kinds of death, but no longer, Anderson said.

The US still ranks as having among the lowest life expectancy rates for developed nations. Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world, at nearly 84.

In reality, the increased death rates are seen as the cost of doing business, necessary to funnel ever greater sums of money into the pockets of robber barons like Jeff Bezos and fuel unprecedented spending on the USA military.

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The top 10 causes of death, which account for 74 percent of mortality in the United States, remained the same between 2016 and 2017.

An underlying factor is that the death rate for heart disease - the nation's No. 1 killer - has stopped falling.

The CDC figures are based mainly on a review of 2017 death certificates.

Financial struggles, a widening income gap and divisive politics are all casting a pall over many Americans, he suggested. "I really do believe that people are increasingly hopeless, and that leads to drug use, it leads potentially to suicide", he said.

Life expectancy fell from 78.7 in 2016.

That's down from 78.7 years in 2015 and 78.9 years in 2014. But deaths from the powerful painkiller fentanyl and its close opioid cousins continued to soar in 2017.

Urban-area suicide rates were 16% higher in 2017 than 1999, and rural-area suicides increased by 53% over the same time period.

Most of these deaths were unintentional in nature.

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