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Another sharp drop in US life expectancy in 2021

By Ernie Mundell

health day reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Life expectancy at birth for the average American took another big hit in 2021, according to final death rate data for this pandemic year.

While in 2019 the average American could have expected to live an average of 78.8 years, life expectancy fell to 77 in 2020 and then to 76.4 in 2021, according to published data. Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s the shortest estimated life expectancy in the United States since 1996, the agency noted.

Of course, the toll of COVID-19 — which has so far killed more than 1.1 million Americans — is largely responsible for the decline. But the CDC reports that fatal overdoses of illicit drugs such as fentanyl also rose sharply in 2021.

Seen another way, “the death rate for the entire US population increased by 5.3%,” the CDC added, “from 835.4 deaths per 100,000 population in 2020 to 879, 7 in 2021”.

Women can still expect to live longer than men: In 2021, the average woman could expect to live to be 79.3 years old, on average, and men to be 73.5 years old.

As for what kills Americans the most, heart disease remained the leading cause of death in 2021 (about 174 deaths per 100,000 people), followed by cancer (about 147 deaths per 100,000) and then COVID-19 (about 104 deaths per 100,000), the CDC said.

The other 10 leading causes of death, in order, were unintentional injuries, stroke, COPD and other chronic respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, liver disease and kidneys.

A second report released by the CDC examined the continued rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States, using data from 2001 to 2021.

The news was grim: Driven by the epidemic of opioid abuse, and the deadly fentanyl in particular, drug overdose deaths jumped another huge jump from 28.3 deaths per 100,000 population. in 2020 to 32.4 in 2021.

“The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone [drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and tramadol] increased by 22%,” the CDC said, “from 17.8 [per 100,000 people] in 2020 to 21.8 in 2021.”

But fentanyl wasn’t the only culprit: cocaine-related overdose deaths also increased by 22% between 2020 and 2021, and fatal methamphetamine-related overdoses increased by a third, the agency added. .

There was good news: Deaths from heroin abuse fell 32% during the same period, according to the CDC report.

Both reports were released as the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief.

More information:

For help dealing with a substance abuse problem, contact the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service (SAMHSA) toll-free helpline.

SOURCES: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, press release, December 22, 2022; NCHS Data Brief, December 2022

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