US Life Expectancy Trails Behind Other Developed Nations

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While the U.S. is one of the world’s richest nations, and seen in the eyes of the global community as a superpower, infant mortality rates and the life expectancy of its citizens trail far behind other wealthy countries.

U.S. men had an average life expectancy of 76.7 years in 2015, with about 66.8 of those years spent in good health. Life expectancy for U.S. women was 81.5 years on average, with 69.5 years spent in good health.

In comparison, all high-income countries combined had an average 78.1 years of life expectancy for men and 83.4 years for women, the study reported. Years lived in good health averaged 68.9 for men and 72.2 for women.

Infant mortality is also much higher than other developed nations. In the U.S., infant mortality amounted to six deaths in every 1,000 for children under 5, whereas the average combined for all wealthier countries is five deaths for every 1,000.

These new statistics emerge from work by researchers at the University of Washington, published in The Lancet as the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study 2015. This scientific analysis of more than 300 diseases and injuries in 195 countries and territories involved a comprehensive review of global health statistics. Results show the biggest contributing factors affecting the health of Americans:

  • High blood pressure,
  • Drug abuse,
  • Smoking,
  • Diabetes and
  • Gun violence

The problem is that this drop in life expectancy, and overall lesser quality of health for Americans, is that it doesn’t match the amount the US spends on health care. “This comes from inequality in access to health care, along with other social and economic factors,” says study co-author Dr. Mohsen Naghavi.

Another discouraging statistic is the increase in opioid-related deaths. In the last 25 years, that number has risen from 4,000 in 1990 to over 21,300 in 2015. Studies show that opioids can often make chronic pain worse, leading one Minneapolis ER to switch them out for acupuncture instead.

Dr. Prabhjot Singh, director of Mount Sinai’s Arnhold Institute for Global Health in New York City, says this study shows the need for a complete rehaul of the US health care system. Singh suggested a way to combat these health risks would involve the United States having to explore past the “hospital-centric, drug-centric medical system.”

Earlier this year the CDC released statistics showing an increase in the US death rate for the first time in a decade. Together with this latest research, there’s a growing concern for this drop in our quality of life.

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