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More Americans are dying in the prime of their lives, and ‘excess deaths’ are clustered in Ohio and three other states – Crain’s Cleveland Business

Posted: December 1, 2019 at 5:44 pm

Life expectancy in the United States has fallen for three consecutive years, the result of higher death rates for young and middle-aged adults, and Ohio is one of the primary contributors to the trend.

The Washington Post examines what it calls a "strikingly bleak study," published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that looked at the past six decades of mortality data.

From The Post's article:

Despite spending more on health care than any other country, the United States has seen increasing mortality and falling life expectancy for people age 25 to 64, who should be in the prime of their lives. In contrast, other wealthy nations have generally experienced continued progress in extending longevity. Although earlier research emphasized rising mortality among non-Hispanic whites in the United States, the broad trend detailed in this study cuts across gender, racial and ethnic lines. By age group, the highest relative jump in death rates from 2010 to 2017 29% has been among people age 25 to 34.

The findings, The Post says, "are sure to fuel political debate about causes and potential solutions because the geography of rising death rates overlaps to a significant extent with states and regions that are hotly contested in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election."

The reason: About one-third of the estimated 33,000 "excess deaths" that the study says occurred since 2010 were in four states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana.

"It's supposed to be going down, as it is in other countries," said the lead author of the report, Dr. Steven H. Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. "The fact that that number is climbing, there's something terribly wrong."

The New York Times, in looking at the study, notes that in recent years, researchers examining life expectancy issues have focused on "the plight of white Americans in rural areas who were dying from so-called deaths of despair: drug overdoses, alcoholism and suicide." But the paper says the new study "found that the increased death rates among people in midlife extended to all racial and ethnic groups, and to suburbs and cities. And while suicides, drug overdoses and alcoholism were the main causes, other medical conditions, including heart disease, strokes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also contributed."

Death rates are actually improving among children and older Americans, Woolf tells The Times, "perhaps because they may have more reliable health care Medicaid for many children and Medicare for older people."

The Times notes that Ohio, in addition to being one of the state's with the highest number of "excess deaths," also is one of five states with the greatest relative increases in death rates among young and middle-aged adults. The others in that category are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia.

Of the Ohio/Pennsylvania/Kentucky/Indiana grouping of states with the 33,000 excess deaths, Woolf said, "What's not lost on us is what is going on in those states," he said. "The history of when this health trend started happens to coincide with when these economic shifts began the loss of manufacturing jobs and closure of steel mills and auto plants."

Read the rest here:
More Americans are dying in the prime of their lives, and 'excess deaths' are clustered in Ohio and three other states - Crain's Cleveland Business

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