June 20, 2016

Men’s Health, U.S. Death Rate under Scrutiny in Light of New CDC Data

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Life expectancy for American males is remaining stagnant and the overall U.S. death rate recently rose for the first time in a decade, according to concerning data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in April and June.

The life expectancy data, which compared rates recorded in 2013 and 2014, revealed an overall average rate of 78.8 years. Black and Hispanic American males experienced a slight increase in life expectancy during that time.

The unanticipated rise in the U.S. death rate, which climbed from 723.2 deaths per 100,000 Americans in 2014 to 729.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2015, was attributed in large part to spikes in fatal drug overdoses, suicides, and rates of alcohol abuse.

“It’s an uptick in mortality, and that doesn’t usually happen, so it’s significant,” the New York Times recently quoted Robert Anderson, the chief of mortality statistics at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), as saying. “But the question is, what does it mean? We really need more data to know. If we start looking at 2016 and we see another rise, we’ll be a lot more concerned.”

Calling it “disturbing and puzzling news,” the Times noted that the slight uptick in the death rate disproportionally affected white, less-educated Americans. Economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton reported in December that death rates have been climbing since 1999 for non-Hispanic whites age 45 to 54, with the largest increase occurring among the least educated.

Looking back to the start of the century, the Times noted that while the death rate for white Americans ages 25 to 54 rose 11 percent from 2000 to 2014, the death rate for Hispanic Americans fell by 14 percent and the rate for black Americans fell by 23 percent during that time.

Recent rises in suicides and prescription opioid and heroin abuse among Americans have been well-documented. During recent years, fatal drug overdoses – which have quadrupled in the U.S. since 1999, according to the CDC – have eclipsed motor vehicle accidents as the nation’s most commonly reported accidental cause of death. The suicide rate in the U.S. also recently hit a 25-year high.

Men die by suicide three and a half times more often than women, and white males account for 7 of every 10 suicides in the U.S. in 2014, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

But there’s some good news to balance out the bad. According to a recently released National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief, there have been significant recent decreases in death rates due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, pneumonia, and aortic aneurysm.

The recently released data prompted ICD10monitor’s Talk-Ten-Tuesdays to host a two-episode series focusing exclusively on men’s physical and mental health.

“This series stands in stark contrast with the onslaught of newspaper and TV advertising promoting overstuffed recliners and large-screen televisions as Father’s Day gifts,” ICD10monitor Publisher and Talk-Ten-Tuesdays program host Chuck Buck said. “The fact is, we recently received sobering news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

To review the newly released NCHS data in its entirety, go online to http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db244.htm and http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/vsrr/mortality-dashboard.htm.
Mark Spivey

Mark Spivey is a national correspondent for ICDmonitor.com who has been writing on numerous topics facing the nation’s healthcare system (and federal oversight of it) for five years. 

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