Death rate for those 85+ increases 'significantly,' CDC says

Death rate for those 85+ increases 'significantly,' CDC says

American life expectancy has fallen again.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also shows that Vermont's overdose death rate past year - 23.2 per 100,000 people, as per an age-adjusted formula - is lower than any other New England state.

Life expectancy was 78.6 years in 2017, down from 78.7 years in 2016, the CDC said.

Overall, the statistics show a "downward trend in life expectancy since 2014", a time period over which Americans have lost 0.3 years of life, said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the NCHS.

The decline is likely due in part to the continuing rise in drug overdose deaths, the CDC said. The volume of opioids prescribed for American patients has been falling since 2010, while the upward trend in deaths involving opioids has accelerated, reaching a record number a year ago.

Dr Jerry Reed of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention told the BBC that suicide is not always just a mental health challenge.

The death rate for drug overdoses rose about 10% in 2017.

Increases have been prominent among the female population despite the fact that most people who die by suicide are still male. The cases in rural counties were nearly double than the suicide rates in urban counties.

Meanwhile, the suicide rate has increased a massive 33 percent since 1999, the CDC said.

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The suicide rate is also the highest it has been in decades.

The nation is in the longest period of a generally declining life expectancy since the late 1910s, when World War I and the worst flu pandemic in modern history combined to kill almost 1 million Americans. When those death rates were broken down by ethnicity and sex, white people-both men and women-had a statistically significant increase in death rate, although their absolute rates were still lower than those of black men and women.

The Washington Post notes that other factors contributed to an increased death rate a year ago, including a spike in influenza deaths as well as fatalities from chronic low respiratory diseases, Alzheimer's disease and strokes. The CDC report, "Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2017", said overdose deaths rose 10 percent previous year.

The total number of deaths recorded in the nation reached more than 2.8 million in 2017, about 69,000 more than in 2016, the report showed, as the overdose death rate climbed 9.6 percent compared to 2016, while suicides rose 3.7 percent.

The heroin overdose death rate remained constant at about 5 deaths per 100,000 people for both 2016 and 2017; that said, it is seven times higher than in 1999.

CDC officials did not speculate about what's behind declining life expectancy, but Dr. William Dietz, a disease prevention expert at George Washington University, said he sees a sense of hopelessness. By comparison, the rate for women has increased from four per 100,000 to 14.

Life expectancy in the USA began dropping in 2015. The rate has been going up by approximately 71 percent per year since 2013.

And while efforts to combat the opioid epidemic "are starting to stem the tide", she says, "we need to be doing much more".

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