But it suggests that the decrease in 2015 was more than a blip-and it points to unfolding stories about health and death in the United States. That period included World War I and a flu pandemic that killed 675,000 people in the United States.
Public health and demographic experts reacted with alarm to the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual statistics, which are considered a reliable barometer of a society's health.
There is no solution to the continued decline in life expectancy forthcoming from the ruling class. "It shouldn't be declining in the United States".
"There are not a lot of resources that we have available", she said. "Or can we say this is a tractable problem?"
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found almost 70,000 more Americans died in 2017 than 2016, with rising rates of death among 25- to 44-year-olds. That number dropped sharply between 2013, when the Affordable Care Act kicked in, and 2016.
People born in the USA last year can expect to live until they are 78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 years from the previous 12 months. CDC analysis of preliminary 2018 drug overdose figures indicates that the increase in deaths may be slowing, but it is unclear if this trend will have persisted through the rest of the year.
The number one cause of death in the USA, heart disease, levelled off. Improvements in prevention and treatment of the condition usually offset increases in other leading causes of death. All together, the US death rate rose by 0.4% from 2016 to 2017, going from 728.8 deaths per 100,000 people to 731.9. They had been hovering around 33,500 deaths until a few years ago.
Notably, deaths from legal painkillers did not increase in 2017.
The trends in overdose deaths vary widely across the country. Those totals were virtually identical to the numbers in 2016.
Deaths by suicide have also spiked.
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"That's kind of our saving grace", Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality-statistics branch of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics told the Wall Street Journal. They are usually more potent, meaning small errors in measurement can lead to an overdose. States that have expanded their Medicaid programs are also able to offer more treatment for users.
Accidental drug overdoses account for more than a third of the unintentional injury deaths, and intentional drug overdoses account for about a tenth of the suicides, said Dr. Holly Hedegaard, a CDC injury researcher.
"The opioid market has been completely taken over by fentanyl", Sharfstein said. Deaths involving fentanyls increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone.
Of the nation's 10 leading causes of death, only the death rate for cancer fell previous year.
The peak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s also saw a nationwide drop in life expectancy.
Now, the reports released by the CDC did not offer only bad news.
As of 2017, the average life span is 78.6. Women generally live longer, with a life expectancy of 81.1 last year, a number that stayed flat compared with the year before. Any revision for 2017's estimate of 78.6 years will come next year.
In 2017, the suicide rate for the most rural counties (20 per 100,000) outpaced that in the most urban counties (about 11 per 100,000). In 1999, the suicide rate in rural counties was 1.4 times the rate of most urban areas.
America will have to curtail its escalating suicide rate if it ever hopes of becoming truly great again.
"These cohorts experienced the most significant increase in death rates across all other age ranges from 2016 to 2017", he said.
One major factor is drug overdoses.