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Drug Overdose Deaths: Decreasing Life Expectancy

Drug Overdose Deaths: Decreasing Life Expectancy

The National Center for Health Statistics (a division of CDC) has released the 2017 U.S. data on life expectancy and death rates.

Life expectancy: the average number of years a newborn is expected to live if mortality (death) patterns at the time of its birth remain constant in the future. This number is an estimate based on the statistical analysis of mortality data.

Up until 2014, life expectancy rates had been gradually increasing. Since then, they’ve been decreasing. Life expectancy for all races:

· 1975: 72.6 years (male: 68.8; female 76.6)

· 2000: 76.8 years (male: 74.1; female: 79.3)

· 2014: 78.9 years (male 76.5; female: 81.3)

· 2017: 78.6 years (male: 76.2; females: 81.1)

Medical experts point to drug overdose deaths as a major reason for the decline.

Robert R. Redfield, M.D., CDC Director:

The latest CDC data show that the U.S. life expectancy has declined over the past few years. Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide. Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.

· In 2017, there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., 9.6% higher than the rate in 2016

· Adults aged 25-54 had the highest rates of drug overdose deaths

· West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia had the highest drug overdose death rates

· The number of drug overdose deaths per year increased 54%, from 41,340 deaths in 2011 to 63,632 in 2016

The top 10 drugs for overdose belong to three addictive drug classes:

· Opioids: fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone

(Act on the nervous system to treat pain)

· Benzodiazepines: alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium)

(Used to treat anxiety and insomnia by depressing the nervous system)

· Stimulants: cocaine and methamphetamine

(Increase alertness, attention, and energy)

In 2011, oxycodone was ranked first in deaths (5,587 deaths; 41,341 total drug overdose deaths in 2011).

2012-2015: Heroin ranked first

· 2012: 6,155 deaths (41,502 total drug overdose deaths in 2012)

· 2013: 8,418 deaths (43,982 total drug overdose deaths in 2013)

· 2014: 10,882 deaths (47,055 total drug overdose deaths in 2014)

· 2015: 13,318 deaths (52,404 total drug overdose deaths in 2015)

2016: Fentanyl ranked first (18,335 deaths), followed by heroin (15,961 deaths) and cocaine (11,316 deaths). (63,632 total drug overdose deaths in 2016)

In 2017, there were 2.8 million deaths registered, nearly 70,000 more than in 2016. From 2016 -2017, death rates increased for age groups 24-44, and 85 and over. Life expectancy at birth decreased from 2016 to 2017 largely because of increases in mortality (death) from unintentional injuries, suicide, diabetes, and influenza and pneumonia, with unintentional injuries making the largest contribution: unintentional fall deaths; motor vehicle traffic deaths; and unintentional poisoning deaths.

2017: Top 10 causes of death in the U.S.

1. Heart disease

2. Cancer

3. Unintentional injuries

4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases

5. Stroke

6. Alzheimer disease

7. Diabetes

8. Influenza and pneumonia

9. Kidney disease

10. Suicide

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