Life expectancy in the United States has declined for the second year in a row, and Americans can now expect to live to an average of 76.4 years, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Average life expectancy has been shortened by just over half a year (0.6) compared to 2020.Compared to 2019. The average life expectancy just before the onset of the pandemic was 78.8 years.
Provisional data from earlier this year predicted a slightly more dramatic decline for a life expectancy of 76.1 years.
In that order, heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19 remain the top causes of death in the United States. In their summary of the data, the researchers wrote that life expectancy has declined mostly from increases in deaths from COVID-19, unintentional injury (including drug overdose), liver disease and cirrhosis, suicide and homicide.
Disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic are thought to contribute to the reduced life expectancy. And not just from the virus, which was the third leading cause of death on its own last year. Healthcare providers are sounding the alarm about missed doctor’s appointments to manage chronic diseases such as heart disease (the number one cause of death), cancer (the second most common cause), and diabetes. For example, people may delay cancer or blood pressure screenings or have an important appointment canceled due to COVID-19 related disruptions in the healthcare system.
Increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic has also been a worrying trend for many doctors, as excessive alcohol use is one of the main causes of cirrhosis, or liver scarring. Liver damage can also be caused by health conditions such as hepatitis. Deaths from liver disease and cirrhosis rose 9% from 2020 to 2021, according to the report.
It has also been attributed by some experts to disruptions caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. “This data is so tragic but not surprising,” Nora Volkow told CNN. “The pandemic has had a magnifying effect on the already devastating overdose crisis and exacerbated many of the stressors in society that make people more vulnerable to drug taking.”
According to the report, death rates increased for people of all ages except children under the age of 1. When we compared 2021 to 2020, the highest increase in deaths was among adults in their mid-30s and early 40s. But the researchers found that death rates for Hispanic and Black men fell from 2020 to 2021 and remained unchanged for Asian men and women. Mortality rates increased for all other racial groups and genders. Women continued to have a longer life expectancy than men (73.5 years) in 2021 (79.3 years).
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with questions about a medical condition or health goals.