SLUCare Doctor Reacts to Life Expectancy Report

Dr. Patel says younger people are more at risk lately

Fred Bodimer
November 30, 2018 - 7:47 am
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ST. LOUIS, MO (KMOX) —  We're living one month less than we used to, according to a new report that shows life expectancy in this country has dropped once again. 

The life expectancy for the U.S. population in 2017 was 78.6 years, and that's a decrease of about a month compared to 2016. Its's driven by an increase in suicides and drug overdoses.  

Related: Suicide, at 50-year peak, pushes down US life expectancy

SLUCare's Dr. Nirav Patel is the chief medical officer at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.

"We really need to get our arms around this," Patel told KMOX Health Editor Fred Bodimer. "Because we need to think of this not just as an individual problem, but as a public health problem. Just like we did with other infections so we can address it like it's a public health problem."

In 2017, suicides increased by almost four-percent while drug overdoses broke the 70,000 mark.

"All of the progress we've made related to the increases in life expectancy have been related to vaccines, reducing childhood mortality, and these epidemics," Dr. Patel stated. "It's really concerning because (these epidemics) really affect the younger folks. It's the opiates that are getting to some of our younger, more healthy individuals. And suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the younger adult population and even the teenage population."

Seven of the ten leading causes of death actually went up over the past year -- unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory lung diseases, stroke, Alzheimers, diabetes, influenza, pneumonia and suicide. Only the cancer death rate fell.