Life's Too Short and It Just Got Shorter, CDC Says

The latest tallies on US life expectancy show its down a bit.

It's not the best news for the holidays.

According to a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people in the United States are likely to die a bit younger than they were a year earlier. That was slightly more true for men than women.

In a report released by the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System, life expectancy for the US population in 2015 dropped to 78.8 years, about 36 days short of the expectancy in 2014.

The leading causes of death did not change.

They are, in descending order, heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, flu and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide.

These 10 illnesses, conditions and events accounted for 74.2% of all deaths in the US.

Despite the constant barrage of news about improvements in care and treatment, the death rates from many of these causes increased, including heart disease (up 0.9%), stroke (up 3.0%), chronic lower respiratory diseases (up 2.7%) diabetes (up 1.9%), and kidney disease (up 1.5%).(All the rates are adjusted for age.)

The news about Alzheimer’s is even worse, with the death rate up by 15.7%.

The cancer death rate dropped by 1.7%, which could partly explain why some of the other rates went up—people have to die of something.

Suicide and unintentional injury death rates rose by 6.7%.

The study also looked an infant mortality, which rose only slightly and did not reach statistical significance. That rate has dropped since 2010, but the US still has a far worse rate that that of other developed nations.

According to the new report, infant mortality in the US changed from 582.1 infant deaths in 2014 to 589.5 in 2015. The statistic is generally seen as an overall indicator of population health. In 2010 it was 610.

In all, 23,455 infants under a year old died in the US in 2015.

Babies who died succumbed to many causes. The most common was congenital malformations (121.3 per 100,000 live births in 2015) low birth weight (102.7), sudden infant death syndrome (39.4), maternal complications (38.3), unintentional injury (32.4), cord and placental complications (22.9), respiratory distress (11.6), diseases of the circulatory system (10.5), and neonatal hemorrhage (10.2).

The only cause of death that increased significantly was unintentional injury which rose by 11.3% from 29.1 deaths to 32.4 in 2015 (both figures per 100,000 live births).

The full study, “Mortality in the United States, 2015,” was written by Jiaquan Xu, MD, and colleagues at the National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics.

In an earlier CDC report “International Comparisons of Infant Mortality and Related Factors: United States and Europe, 2010” the CDC put the US at the bottom of the list of nations with the highest rates of live births.

The infant mortality rate in Finland and in Japan was only 230 deaths per 100,00 live births.

The US rate put the nation 26th in mortality that year, though when premature births (under 24 weeks gestation) were excluded, the US rate was closer to those of most developed nations, at 420 deaths per 100,000.

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