Friday, October 14, 2016

U.S. Life Expectancy Lags Behind Other Wealthy Nations

The health of U.S. citizens is specifically challenged by smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, drug abuse and gun violence, said study co-author Dr. Mohsen Naghavi. He’s a professor with the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The United States isn’t meeting the high expectations set by the country’s wealth and the amount it spends on health care, mainly because not all U.S. citizens benefit equally from their nation’s advantages, Naghavi said.

“This comes from inequality in access to health care, along with other social and economic factors,” he said.

Infant mortality in the United States was six deaths out of every 1,000 kids younger than 5, while the average for all high-income nations combined was about five deaths per 1,000.

U.S. men and women also had poorer life expectancy, compared with the rest of the developed world.
These findings are part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2015, a scientific analysis of more than 300 diseases and injuries in 195 countries and territories.

The numbers show that the United States needs to rethink its approach to health care, said Dr. Prabhjot Singh. He is director of Mount Sinai’s Arnhold Institute for Global Health in New York City.

“We are investing in the wrong stuff, and we are paying for it with our lives,” Singh said.
Researchers found that drug abuse and diabetes are causing a disproportionate amount of ill health and early death in the United States, compared with other countries.

Alcohol, smoking and access to guns also pose continuing health threats to U.S. citizens, Naghavi said.

Singh suggested, to combat these health risks, the United States will have to go beyond its reliance on a “hospital-centric, drug-centric medical system.”

The study, published Oct. 6 in The Lancet, also reports:
  • U.S. deaths linked to opioid use increased more than fivefold over the past 25 years.
  • More new or expecting mothers are dying in the U.S. today compared to 25 years ago, a trend opposite that of the rest of the world.
  • Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. with more than 532,000 deaths in 2015. The second top cause of death was Alzheimer’s disease and lung cancer was ranked third.

My Take:
The study data is nothing new, we’ve known for many years that both the years lived in good health and the life expectancy is higher in many other developed nations then here in the United States. However, I applaud Dr. Singh for targeting our “hospital-centric, drug-centric medical system” as the problem.

What the study doesn’t mention is that the U.S. spends more than any other country on health care. Of the top 20 economic countries in the world, we spend the most and cover the least.

The Bottom Line:
Until this nation places preventive health care as its priority rather than the last desperate hope of the ill, the health of our nation will continue to fall. In the meantime, you must be your own health advocate.

Source: October 6, 2016 National Institutes of Health

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