Life ex­pectancy de­clines in high-in­come coun­tries

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Alert - by Lisa Ra­pa­port

LIFE ex­pectancy is de­clin­ing in high-in­come coun­tries world­wide, driven in part by the ef­fects of the opi­oid epi­demic on younger adults in the US and the im­pact of a se­vere flu sea­son on older adults in other na­tions, two new stud­ies sug­gest. Life ex­pectancy is a mea­sure of the health and well-be­ing of a pop­u­la­tion.

Wide­spread or sus­tained de­clines in life ex­pectancy may sig­nal prob­lems in a na­tion’s so­cial and eco­nomic con­di­tions or in the pro­vi­sion or qual­ity of its health­care ser­vices, re­searchers write in The BMJ. The first study looked at trends across 18 high-in­come coun­tries and found that most coun­tries ex­pe­ri­enced de­clines in life ex­pectancy in 2015. This is the first time in re­cent decades that so many high-in­come coun­tries si­mul­ta­ne­ously ex­pe­ri­enced de­clines in life ex­pectancy for both men and women.

Out of 18 coun­tries in the study, 12 ex­pe­ri­enced life ex­pectancy de­clines among men and 11 ex­pe­ri­enced life ex­pectancy de­clines among women. “This hasn’t oc­curred in decades, and the size of these most re­cent de­clines were larger than prior de­clines,” said study co-au­thor Jes­sica Ho of the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in Los An­ge­les. A par­tic­u­larly se­vere in­fluenza sea­son drove de­clines out­side the US in 2014-2015, pri­mar­ily among adults 65 and older, the study found.

In ad­di­tion to flu and pneu­mo­nia, the main causes of death in these coun­tries were as­so­ci­ated with an age­ing pop­u­la­tion and in­cluded other res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and Alzheimer’s dis­ease as well as other men­tal and ner­vous sys­tem dis­or­ders.

Most of these coun­tries re­versed their life-ex­pectancy de­cline in the 2015-2016 pe­riod, but in the US and the UK, the de­clines con­tin­ued, the au­thors note. – Reuters

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