CDC: Kentucky ranks fifth in the nation for 2017 overdose deaths

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And a third report from the center found that those aged 65 or more years had the lowest rate of drug overdose deaths compared with other age groups.

It marks the third consecutive year life expectancy has dropped in the U.S., and the longest life expectancy decline trend since the late 1910s when WWI and the worst flu pandemic in modern history combined to kill approximately 675,000 Americans.

"Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation's overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable", he wrote in a statement.

Babies born in 2017 have an estimated average life expectancy of 78.6 years, according to the report. The opioid epidemic continued to take a relentless toll, with 47,600 deaths in 2017 from drugs sold on the street such as fentanyl and heroin, as well as prescription narcotics. Pennsylvania had one of the highest overdose rates in 2016, but it comes off looking relatively well off on the age-adjusted mortality map.

The study also focuses on suicide in depressed rural regions. And he noted that the rate of increase in opioid-related deaths has slowed in Vermont. That number marks a almost 10 percent increase from 2016 and the highest ever in the United States for a single year. But deaths in younger age groups - particularly middle-aged people - have had the largest impact on calculations of life expectancy, experts said.

The Washington Post notes that other factors contributed to an increased death rate past year, including a spike in influenza deaths as well as fatalities from chronic low respiratory diseases, Alzheimer's disease and strokes. From 1999 to 2017, suicide rates have increased for both males and females, with the greatest yearly increases occurring since 2006.

Life expectancy fell from 78.7 in 2016.

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Though deaths from overdoses of all types of opioids have increased since 1999, the change in mortality induced by synthetic opioids other than methadone, meaning products like fentanyl, has had the most alarming upswing. In 2017, the United States saw 70,237 deaths from drug overdoses.

The figures mark an "appalling performance not seen in the United States since 1915 through 1918", the Washington Post reported. For men, the number dropped by a 10th of a year to 76.1.

In a separate report, the CDC also documented a 3.7 per cent increase in the suicide rate, another continuation of a recent trend.

The CDC figures are based mainly on a review of 2017 death certificates.

"We're seeing the drop in life expectancy not because we're hitting a cap [for lifespans of] people in their 80s". However, since 2008, suicide has ranked 10 and has been growing at an alarming rate.

Deaths from flu and pneumonia rose by about 6 percent. The cases in rural counties were nearly double than the suicide rates in urban counties.

Sharfstein said the most lamentable aspect of the crises is that policymakers know which approaches make a difference, such as medically assisted treatment for drug abusers and increased availability of mental health services in states where they are lacking.

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