• ‘Deaths of Despair’ Take Toll Across U.S.

‘Deaths of Despair’ Take Toll Across U.S.

Snippets from the article:

By Betsy McKay and Renée Rigdon

April 2018

A grim tally of “years of life lost” shows that substance abuse, suicides and diabetes drove a rise in premature deaths in nearly half the country, according to researchers who mapped variations in death rates among people 20 to 55 years old.

The research offers a detailed look at the trends pulling down life expectancy among young and middle-aged Americans in recent years. So-called “deaths of despair,” including drug overdoses, have been on the rise, especially amongwhite Americans, according to recent studies.

….The examination of health by U.S. state between 1990 and 2016 is part of IHME’s ongoing Global Burden of Disease epidemiological study, which assesses illnesses and death from major diseases and conditions globally using multiple data sources.

While the two leading causes of death for Americans of all ages nationwide—heart disease and lung cancer—remained the same for those years, “years of life lost” for several others soared, reflecting the ills of young and middle-aged adults. That calculation involves multiplying the number of deaths at each age by a standard life expectancy at that age, according to IHME.

Substance use, mental-health issues, cirrhosis and diabetes accounted for most of the increases in premature death among people ages 20 to 55, Dr. Murray said. …

… For Americans between ages 20 and 55, the risk or probability of death over the years studied rose more than 10% in five states: West Virginia, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kentucky and Wyoming.

Mental and substance-use disorders were the biggest driver of an increase in probability of death for young and middle-aged adults in West Virginia, one of the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.

Suicide also played a big role.

The increases in mortality were so large they didn’t offset declines in deaths from cardiovascular disease, accidents such as car crashes, HIV and tuberculosis. In Oklahoma, those same factors, along with cirrhosis, were significant contributors to an increase in risk of death.



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