Health Day Reporter
THURSDAY, Dec. 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Average life expectancy for Americans at birth took another big hit in 2021, according to final figures on the pandemic-year death rate.
Americans had an average life expectancy of 78.8 years in 2019, but life expectancy dropped to 77 in 2020 and then to 76.4 in 2021, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This is the shortest estimate of life expectancy in the United States since 1996, the agency noted.
Of course, the death toll from COVID-19 — which has killed more than 1.1 million Americans so far — is largely responsible for the decline. But fatal overdoses of illicit drugs like fentanyl also rose sharply in 2021, the CDC reported.
In other words, “the death rate for the entire U.S. population increased by 5.3 percent,” the CDC added, “from 835.4 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020 to 879.7 in 2021.”
Women still have a longer life expectancy than men: by 2021, women can expect to live an average of 79.3 years compared with 73.5 years for men.
As for what kills the most Americans, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in 2021 (about 174 deaths per 100,000 people), followed by cancer (about 147 deaths per 100,000 people), and then COVID -19 (about 104 deaths per 100,000 people), the CDC said.
The other top 10 causes of death were, in order, accidental injury, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other chronic respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, liver disease and kidney disease.
A second report from the CDC looked at the continued rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States, using data from 2001 to 2021.
The news is gloomy: Overdose deaths have risen sharply again, from 28.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020 to 32.4 in 2021, driven by the opioid epidemic, especially the deadly fentanyl.
“Drug overdose mortality involving synthetic opioids other than methadone [drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs and tramadol] increased by 22 percent,” the CDC said, “from 17.8 [per 100,000 people] 2020 to 21.8 in 2021. “
But fentanyl isn’t the only culprit: From 2020 to 2021, cocaine-related overdose deaths also rose 22 percent, and fatal methamphetamine-related overdoses jumped a full three percent, the agency added. one.
There’s good news — the CDC report found that deaths from heroin abuse fell 32 percent over the same period.
Both reports were released as data briefs from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.
For help with substance abuse problems, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) toll-free national helpline.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Press Release, December 22, 2022; NCHS Data Brief, December 2022