US Life Expectancy Is Decreasing. Here’s Why

Henrietta Strickland
November 30, 2019

After rising for decades, life expectancy in the USA decreased for three straight years, driven by higher rates of death among middle aged Americans, a new study suggests. Deaths as a result of hypertension for this age physique of workers increased by 78.9%.

These early deaths are causing average life expectancy to decline in the United States. Though there were past studies that explored the negative trend of decreasing life expectancy in the country, the current study found problems like suicides and drug overdoses are shortening life expectancy among Americans. This includes increases in deaths related to drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, mental illness and organ system diseases across all racial groups. "If we don't provide that help, Americans will continue to be sicker than their peers in other countries".

The new study seems to lend more credence to a theory voiced by some researchers, who have theorised that working age Americans' growing lack of goal, loss of community, and financial problems are sending them into despair.

If the negative trend pursues and if the slow rate of United States life expectancy increase persists, it might take the country more than 100 years to reach the average life expectancy other first world countries attained by 2016. Mortality rates have increased for 35 causes of death, said lead author Steven Woolf, M.D., director emeritus of the VCU Center on Society and Health.

Specifically, the researchers found that U.S. life expectancy decreased due to the increasing cause-specific deaths among adults between 25 and 64 years old. Between the years 2010 to 2017, for instance, their mortality rate actually increased by six per cent-an increase that amounted to around 33,000 extra deaths during those years.

One-third of these deaths were reported in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Since numerous factors are lifestyle practices, having a good and healthy lifestyle can help mitigate the negative effects on USA life expectancy.

"By 1998, we had fallen below the average increase of the other industrialized countries".

The US had been making actual progress. And midlife suicide rates in those years increased 38.3%.

Eight of the 10 states with the largest number of excess deaths for ages 25 to 64 were in the Rust Belt or Appalachia, Woolf said, and the 13 Appalachian states accounted for half of excess deaths.

"Families and communities have been dealing with many years of economic strain", he continued.

It's not just that economic stress makes one more likely to turn to drink, drugs or suicide, Woolf said. Koh is the Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Noting that a pattern of increasing mortality in middle age is not seen in other high income countries, Woolf said this might be because "in other countries there are more support systems for people who fall on hard times". You can't really be healthy if you don't have stable housing. The study lists socioeconomic pressures and unstable employment among possible explanations for increased working-age mortality in these areas. "Spirituality and social engagement are critical to well-being", Koh explained. He believes there is a more in-depth consciousness of these disorders, that your health is a long way more than what occurs to your doctor's place of work. That could mean this nation needs to consider a solution outside medicine for its poor health.

"It is depressing", Rowe said, "but I don't think it's much of a surprise". In 1959, for example, someone's life expectancy was 69.9 years. The nation now risks life expectancy going downward as a troubling new norm.

Koh talked about he has considered some signs of hope.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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