Life expectancy in the United States was on the rise for decades, but that came to a sudden stop last year. According to new data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rates of every leading cause of death increased except for cancer. The data was released Thursday showed trends such as sedentary lifestyles and the drug overdose epidemic pulling some of the gains from public health campaigns, better nutrition and medical advances.
According to the CDC data, an American baby born in 2015 was expected to live an average of 78 years and 9-1/2 months. When compared to the 2014 life expectancy, the person could be expected to live about a month longer. While this is only a small loss, it cannot be compared to the gains of the last six decades. In 1950, the life expectancy was a little over 68 years.
According to the World Bank, the U.S. ranks below dozens of high-income countries, with the highest being Japan, at nearly 84 years. Heart disease, the number one leading cause of death, reflected an unusual upturn. Accidental injuries, stroke, chronic lower lung disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, suicide and kidney disease death rates also increased. However, deaths from pneumonia and influenza only slightly increased.
Heart disease has been buoyed by Americans’ lack of activity and eating habits, as well as stress and lack of sleep, said Dr. Michael Miller, professor of cardiovascular medicine in the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the University of Maryland Medical System’s Center for Preventive Cardiology.
Miller recommended taking walks around the office and taking the steps instead of the elevator. Insomnia and stress also needs to be addressed, just listening to music or soaking in a warm bath will definitely help.
The third leading killer, unintentional injuries saw the biggest jump in death rates, this includes opioid overdoses and motor vehicle accidents. Director of the John Hopkins Center for Injury Research & Policy, Andrea Gielen said the best way to tackle these problems is with seatbelt use and drug addiction treatment.
Although the CDC report did not offer any specifics, other research data points toward death rates spiking in poor people, particularly Caucasians, living in rural areas and highly educated people on the coasts.
The data shows Maryland holding fairly steady, but there was evidence of stark geographic disparity. In 2014, the Maryland life expectancy was 79.8 years. Montgomery County had a life expectancy of 84.6 years, the highest in the state, followed by Howard County at 83 years. Baltimore City had a life expectancy of 74.1 years, the lowest in the state.
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