Life expectancy rises in US for first time since 2014, thanks to decline in deaths from heart disease, cancer

In 2018, life expectancy at birth was 78.7 years for the total US population, an increase of 0.1 year from 78.6 years in 2017


                            Life expectancy rises in US for first time since 2014, thanks to decline in deaths from heart disease, cancer
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Life expectancy in the US has gone up for the first time since 2014 primarily due to a decline in deaths from cancer and heart disease.

Life expectancy at birth for the American population in 2018 was 78.7 years, an increase of 0.1 year from 78.6 years in 2017, according to a new report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

After increasing 0.2 year between 2010 and 2014, life expectancy decreased 0.3 year between 2014 and 2017.

Experts say that life expectancy for women was consistently higher than it was for males. In 2018, the difference in life expectancy between females and males was 5.0 years, the same as in 2017.

Life expectancy at selected ages, by sex: US, 2017 and 2018 (CDC)

“For males, life expectancy changed from 76.1 in 2017 to 76.2 in 2018 — an increase of 0.1 year. For females, life expectancy increased 0.1 year from 81.1 years in 2017 to 81.2 in 2018,” said the report. 

Experts say that the death rate for the total population decreased by 1.1% from 731.9 deaths per 100,000 standard population in 2017 to 723.6 in 2018. 

In 2018, the 10 leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide) remained the same as in 2017. These leading causes accounted for 73.8% of all deaths in the US in 2018.

The analysis shows that from 2017 to 2018, death rates decreased for 6 of 10 leading causes of death and increased for two. 

The rate decreased 0.8% for heart disease (from 165.0 in 2017 to 163.6 in 2018), 2.2% for cancer (152.5 to 149.1), 2.8% for unintentional injuries (49.4 to 48.0), 2.9% for chronic lower respiratory diseases (40.9 to 39.7), 1.3% for stroke (37.6 to 37.1), and 1.6% for Alzheimer disease (31.0 to 30.5). Rates for diabetes and kidney disease did not change significantly. 

Age-adjusted death rates for all causes and the 10 leading causes of death in 2018: US, 2017 and 2018. (CDC)

The US also saw an increase in death rates from suicides, and influenza and pneumonia. The rate increased by 4.2% for influenza and pneumonia (14.3 to 14.9) and 1.4% for suicide (14.0 to 14.2).

“Life expectancy at birth increased largely because of decreases in mortality from cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory diseases, and heart disease,” said the report. 

At the same time, the US saw a decline in deaths from drug overdoses. According to the analysis, there were 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2018, a 4.1% decline from 2017 (70,237 deaths).

Change in age-adjusted drug overdose death rates, by state: US, 2017 and 2018 (CDC)

“The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in 2018 (20.7 per 100,000) was 4.6% lower than in 2017 (21.7). For 14 states and the District of Columbia, the drug overdose death rate was lower in 2018 than in 2017,” said experts. 

Despite the overall decrease, experts found an increase in overdose deaths from specific drugs. The report says that the rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol) continued to increase from 9.0 in 2017 to 9.9 in 2018. 

The rates of drug overdose deaths involving cocaine and involving psychostimulants with abuse potential (drugs such as methamphetamine) were also higher in 2018 than in 2017 (from 4.3 in 2017 to 4.5 in 2018 for cocaine, and 3.2 in 2017 to 3.9 in 2018 for psychostimulants with abuse potential). 

“The rates of drug overdose deaths involving heroin, natural and semisynthetic opioids, and methadone were lower in 2018 than in 2017,” said the study.

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.