U.S. life expectancy declines for the first time since 1993

 

Heart disease, accidents, overdoses and other top causes of death all increased in 2015

According to the new report, males could expect to live 76.3 years at birth last year, down from 76.5 in 2014. Females could expect to live to 81.2 years, down from 81.3 the previous year.

Life expectancy at age 65 did not fall, another indication that the diseases behind the lower life expectancy occur in middle age or younger. At 65, men can expect to live 18 more years, while women survive an average of 20.6 more years, the data shows. Infant mortality rose slightly, according to the report, but the difference was not considered statistically significant.

Heart disease was responsible for more than 633,000 deaths in 2015, up from a little more than 614,000 the previous year. Cancer killed more than 595,000 people.

“We’re seeing the ramifications of the increase in obesity,” said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “And we’re seeing that in an increase in heart disease.”

The number of unintentional injuries — which include overdoses from drugs, alcohol and other chemicals, as well as motor vehicle crashes and other accidents — climbed to more than 146,000 in 2015 from slightly more than 136,000 in 2014. Public health authorities have been grappling with an epidemic of overdoses from prescription narcotics, heroin and fentanyl in recent years. Xu said overdose statistics were not yet ready to be released to the public.

Deaths from suicide, the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States, rose to 44,193 from 42,773 in 2014.

Several experts pointed out that other Western nations are not seeing similar rises in mortality, suggesting an urgency to determine what is unique about health, health care and socioeconomic conditions in the United States.

“Mortality rates in middle age have totally flat­lined in the U.S. for people in their 30s and 40s and 50s, or have been increasing,” Case said. “What we really need to do is find out why we have stopped making progress against heart disease. And I don’t have the answer to that.”

Meara noted that more people need better health care but that “the health-care system is only a part of health.” Income inequality, nutrition differences and lingering unemployment all need to be addressed, she said.

Source: U.S. life expectancy declines for the first time since 1993