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Life Expectancy Rates Have Gone Down In The USA For The First Time In 10 Years

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According to federal data, the overall US death rate had gone up for the first time in 10 years, according to an analysis of recent data. This has led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, specifically among people younger than 65, NPR reports.

A nation’s well-being is tracked by scientists through the rate at which its citizens die and how long they are expected to live. This analysis was conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Philip Morgan, a demographer at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, who was not involved in the study, says,

This is a big deal. There’s not a better indicator of well-being than life expectancy. The fact that it’s leveling off in the U.S. is a striking finding.

On the bright side, this latest data, taken from 2015, could indicate a one-time statistic. A preliminary analysis from the first half of 2016 states that this may be a blip, Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch, says. He adds that analysts are waiting for more data before coming to any conclusions. He says, “We’ll have to see what happens in the second half of 2016.”

Anderson believes that the 2015 data is still worth paying attention to. The overall death rate went up from 724.6 per 100,000 people to 733.1 per 100,000.

That may not sound like a lot, but it was enough to cause overall life expectancy to dip, which has only happened a few times in the past 50 years. In 1993, there was a similar situation due to high death rates caused by AIDS, flu, accidents and homicides.

Most importantly, the overall death rate for Americans went up because mortality caused by heart disease and stroke saw an increase. Death rates for Alzheimer’s, respiratory disease, kidney disease and diabetes also saw a rise, along with suicide and accidents.

Anderson says, “When you see increases in so many causes of death, it’s difficult to pinpoint one as the culprit.”

The sudden increase in obesity could be contributing to deaths by heart disease, strokes and diabetes, while the opioid abuse epidemic is fueling the increase in accidental deaths.

No matter the cause, the trend is unsettling, especially as the death rate continues to drop and life expectancy is on the rise in other countries.

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