Fueled by the Opioid Epidemic, concerns are staggering!
With the introduction of 2018, it may seem like we fooled you with this bold healine that caught your attention. However, the seriousness of the story is staggering as the epidemic ravages our loved ones. The original story, published by By Lenny Bernstein and Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post, can be found here.
American life expectancy at birth declined for the second consecutive year in 2016, fueled by a staggering 21 percent rise in the death rate from drug overdoses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.
The United States has not seen two years of declining life expectancy since 1962 and 1963, when influenza caused an inordinate number of deaths. In 1993, there was a one-year drop during the worst of the AIDS epidemic.
“I think we should take it very seriously,” said Bob Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the CDC. “If you look at the other developed countries in the world, they’re not seeing this kind of thing. Life expectancy is going up.”
The development is a dismal sign for the United States, which boasts some of the world’s highest spending on medical care, and more evidence of the toll the nation’s opioid crisis is exacting on younger and middle-aged Americans, experts said.
More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses alone in 2016, a 28 percent increase over 2015. When deaths from drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine and benzodiazepines are included, the overall increase was 21 percent.
A multiyear decline in life expectancy is more commonly associated with AIDS epidemics in southern and eastern Africa or wars in Syria and Afghanistan, said Majid Ezzati, a professor of public health at Imperial College London who has studied life expectancy.
“The story does come down to young people,” he said. “It’s the overdose story, to a large extent.”
The 2016 data shows that just three major causes of death are responsible: unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease and suicides, with the bulk of the difference attributable to the 63,632 people who died of overdoses. That total was an increase of more than 11,000 over the 52,404 who died of the same cause in 2015.
Deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids more than doubled from the previous year. Heroin and prescription opioid overdose deaths also rose, but more modestly.
At the same time, a long decline in deaths from heart disease continued a six-year trend of leveling out, Anderson said. The small decrease last year in the rate of the nation’s leading cause of death no longer canceled the drug epidemic’s impact on life expectancy, Anderson said.
“The key factor is the increase in drug overdose deaths,”
Overall, life expectancy dropped by a tenth of a year, from 78.7 to 78.6. It fell two-tenths of a year for men, who have much higher overdose death rates, from 76.3 to 76.1 years. Women’s life expectancy held steady at 81.1 years.