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U.S. life expectancy fell in 2021 as covid, drug deaths surged

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US life expectancy continues steady and alarming decline in 2021 due to covid-19 and illegal activities Drugs have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, according to final government data released Thursday.

Life expectancy in the United States has fallen from 77 in 2020 to 76.4, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, although some countries have begun to recover from the effects of the pandemic. That means Americans can expect him to live as long as he did in 1996. This is a disastrous benchmark for a reliable health indicator that should rise steadily in wealthy developed countries. (Using preliminary data in August, officials predicted her life expectancy in 2021 at 76.1 years.)

Especially for all ages in the US — from infants to the elderly Over 85 — Mortality increased. Men, women, and most racial groups have lost their positions. Over the past few years, some groups have lived longer even when overall life expectancy has declined.

“This is bad news overall,” said Eileen Crimmins, a professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California who studies life expectancy around the world. “We’ve been going without improvement since 1996, which is amazing considering how much we’ve learned about medicine and how much we’ve spent.”

The government last week reported that health care costs in 2021 have reached about $13,000 per person.

This data reinforces the trend line that US life expectancy is declining relative to other countries. For example, according to the World Health Organization, a child born in the United States in 2019 can expect her to live to 78.5, while the life expectancy for a Japanese child born that year was 84.5. The Belgian he lived to be 81.4 years old, the Swede he lived to be 82.4 years old. .

In total, 3.46 million people will die in the United States in 2021, 80,502 more than the previous year. Covid has killed 416,893 people and drug overdoses are responsible for his 106,699 deaths, slightly less than his more than 107,000 cited by the government based on preliminary data. In 2021, life expectancy for women will be 79.3 years for her, and 73.5 years for men, a significant decrease from 2020.

In 2021, heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death in the United States, will show little change. The top 10 causes of death remained the same, except for influenza and pneumonia. It was delisted because part of the US population wore masks to protect them from the coronavirus. Influenza and pneumonia replaced liver disease, often associated with alcohol use and viruses.

The 2021 decline will be the second consecutive decline for the United States and a continuation of a trend that began in the middle of the last decade, when “deaths of hopelessness” from drug overdoses, suicides and alcoholism increased significantly.

It also contrasted with the rebound in life expectancy in several other countries as the COVID-19 pandemic came to an end. Enhanced control through vaccines and masking. His 29-country study, published in his August in the journal Nature Human Behavior, found that in 2021, life expectancy in eight countries had significantly “recovered.”

Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, France, Among other mostly Western countries, the United States is one of 12 countries where life expectancy continues to decline. They included Germany, Chile, Bulgaria, Greece, Estonia and others.

“With the availability of vaccines and other pandemic measures taken, many other countries have recovered,” said Stephen Wolfe, professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. “The fact that it happened in other countries shows that it is possible.”

But most other countries have faced hundreds of thousands of deaths from covid, combined with a relentless drug overdose epidemic driven largely by illegal activities. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. Drug overdoses increased 14% last year, a fivefold increase for him in 20 years. These overdoses claimed more lives last year in all age groups over the age of 25 and in all but Asian men.

fentanyl did About two-thirds of the damage. The Drug Enforcement Administration reported Tuesday that in 2022 he will seize 379 million doses of fentanyl. That’s “enough to kill everyone in the United States,” according to DEA administrator Ann Milgram. Still, officials estimate he’s captured only 5 to 10 percent of the illegal fentanyl that’s congregating across the southern border.

Deaths from methamphetamine and cocaine also surge last year. Experts speculate that fentanyl may be responsible for some of these deaths because it is laced throughout the drug supply and is ingested unknowingly by some users. increase.

Magdalena Serda, professor of public health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, said people who believe they’ve been taking cocaine or methamphetamine may not be taking precautions. Prepare naloxone, which is an agent, and fentanyl test strips at hand.

“People think they only take cocaine and methamphetamine, but they also take fentanyl,” she said.

Many people who die from overdose have more than one drug in their system.

R. Kathryn McHugh, chief of psychology at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, said: “This is 106,000 people whose families are no longer here.”

Data show that fentanyl appears to be replacing heroin, a much less potent opioid. Deaths from the drug fell 32% year-on-year, the government reported .

As they have for years, experts cited the anomalies of life in the United States when they tried to explain the decline in life expectancy in the country. lack, huge deaths from gun violence, widening income gaps between rich and poor, consumption of unhealthy food, poor government support for housing and child care, and many other social and economic factors are included.

“My argument is that we as a society have choices that policymakers have made in the United States that other countries have not,” said VCU professor Woolf.

McHugh and Cerda called for increased therapeutic efforts to combat the worsening drug epidemic by facilitating access to drugs such as buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone. They also said the United States must expand its use of harm reduction technology by expanding the distribution of naloxone, syringe services and fentanyl test strips.

“We already have a lot of the tools we need,” says McHugh. “We just need to deploy them better.”