The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an analysis of the latest data on Thursday that shows the overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, which has led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993.
Key findings from the analysis can be seen below:
- Life expectancy for the U.S. population in 2015 was 78.8 years, a decrease of 0.1 year from 2014.
- The age-adjusted death rate increased 1.2% from 724.6 deaths per 100,000 standard population in 2014 to 733.1 in 2015.
- The 10 leading causes of death in 2015 remained the same as in 2014. Age-adjusted death rates increased for eight leading causes and decreased for one.
- The infant mortality rate of 589.5 infant deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015 was not significantly different from the 2014 rate.
- The 10 leading causes of infant death in 2015 remained the same as in 2014, although two causes exchanged ranks.
In 2015, the 10 leading causes of death were heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide. These 10 leading causes accounted for 74.2% of all deaths in the United States in 2015.
Reports shows that the obesity epidemic may be playing a role in the increase in deaths from heart disease, strokes, diabetes and possibly Alzheimer’s.
The epidemic of prescription opioid painkillers and heroin abuse is probably fueling the increase in unintentional injuries, Arun Hendi, a demographer at Duke University, wrote in an email. The rise in drug abuse and suicide could be due to economic factors causing despair.
“This is a big deal,” says Philip Morgan, a demographer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
“There’s not a better indicator of well-being than life expectancy,” he says. “The fact that it’s leveling off in the U.S. is a striking finding.”
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