The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released latest life expectancy numbers yesterday. For the second year in a row, officials think there is reason for Americans to be concerned. According to the CDC report, Americans born in 2017 can expect to live an average of 78.6 years. Women again are expected to live longer than men at 81.1 years and 76.1 years, respectively. The reason for the decrease, however, is the area of concern.
The CDC says increases in drug overdoses and suicides have cause the drop in life expectancy. Acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker says, “From 2012 to 2017 drug overdose deaths per year in this country increased by a staggering 74 percent..overdoses increased month by month until last September.”
In Peoria, county Coroner Jamie Harwood tells us the leading cause of death in Peoria County among those 25-44 year old is drug overdose. From 2016 to 2017, the same years as the report, Peoria went from 32 to 67 deaths from drug overdose. Harwood says as of now, the number of overdoses in Peoria County is 27% less this year than last year. He thinks ‘Harm Reduction Strategies’ are the key.
Harwood says the CDC has research based strategies and Peoria is utilizing several of them. He attributes the decrease in drug overdoses this year to strategies like Narcan distribution, medication combined with therapy, fentanyl test strips, and the good samaritan law. “We have more people who have died of drug overdoses than the HIV crisis in the 80’s and 90’s so it’s a huge issue obviously,” explained Harwood. He added, “These strategies we talked about from the CDC, I am confident are part of our reduction of deaths so far this year.”
CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement: “Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wake up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”
Harwood believes with further implementation of harm prevention strategies, more lives will be saved and life expectancy will increase.