August 9, 2022

Economic crisis leads to a sudden fall in life expectancy

The average life expectancy for a baby born in 2015 is now 79 years and has declined for the first time since 1993. For women, life expectancy fell from 81.3 to 81.2 years and for men decreased from 76.4 to 76.3, according to an annual report published by The Lancet on Dec 12th 2016 – based on data from the World Health Organisation.

The US still has a lower life expectancy than other industrialised nations, but it stood out among its high-income peers in 2015 as having the largest jump in death rates. Increases in deaths from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, drug abuse and Alzheimer’s disease contributed to the decreasing trend. High blood pressure was responsible for almost 10% of those additional deaths between 2005 and 2015. It is also estimated that 20% of these unfortunate changes are directly related to obesity, which affects around 1/3rd of all Americans (CDC).

Unfortunately or rather fortunately not all Americans live like or agree with Donald Trump. The US President Elect campaigned on promises to improve health care for veterans and working class Americans.

The US already lags behind other high-income countries in how well it prevents deaths from common killer diseases. It has the highest rate of infant mortality and maternal mortality among its peer group which includes Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan. There are 28 American women who die for every 100,000 births which is double the average in these same countries. This is attributed to poor access to medical care and late-pregnancy care (WHO).

So while Americans might still think they are “the best” at everything perhaps its time to recognise there are areas where other nations are better? Like preventing premature death from preventable causes that could easily be treated with good medical advice or early intervention.