Neil K. Mehta
Although it was thought that drug overdoses and deaths may be the reason for stalled increase in U.S. life expectancy, a stall in the decline of CV deaths may be the more likely reason, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We show that the main culprit for the stall is stagnating death rates from cardiovascular disease,” Neil K. Mehta, PhD, MA, MSc, assistant professor of health management and policy at University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, told Healio. “Improvements in U.S. CVD death rates also stopped around 2010 and have been very flat in the U.S. (and for some ages and years, increasing). Prior papers have documented the stagnating death rates from cardiovascular disease. Our contribution was to show that the stagnation in U.S. CVD death rates is actually the main culprit for the U.S. life expectancy stall.”
Researchers analyzed data from the CDC WONDER database and WHO causes of death database to assess drug-related and CVD deaths. Deaths associated with drug use included death from illegal and legal substances and intentional and unintentional cases. CVD deaths included mortality from MI and stroke.
Between 2010 and 2017, the stagnation in CVD also affected life expectancy in the U.S. at age 25 years by 1.14 years in both men and women. In contrast, an increase in drug-related deaths had a smaller effect, with 0.4 years in men and 0.1 years in women.
Researchers compared mortality in the U.S. with that of other high-income countries. The stagnation in CVD observed in the U.S. was stronger than in other countries, resulting in a stark mortality divergency between the U.S. and other nations.
“Clinicians in conjunction with epidemiologists and public health professionals all have a key role in helping identify why U.S. CVD death rates have been stagnant and how to further improve U.S. CVD rates,” Mehta said in an interview. “Likely explanations lie in doing a better job of controlling major CVD risk factors like obesity and diabetes. Both clinicians and public health professionals can make inroads on this front. Opioid use and misuse may also be contributing to premature deaths from heart disease and stroke. We need more research on this particular front.” – by Darlene Dobkowski
For more information:
Neil K. Mehta, PhD, MA, MSc, can be reached at email@example.com.
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.