U.S. life expectancy rose by 0.1 year in 2018 to 78.7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week. Among specific improvements, the drug overdose death rate fell by 4.6% overall, to 20.7 per 100,000; and the infant mortality rate fell by 2.3%, to 566.2 per 100,000 live births. Death rates also decreased 2.9% for chronic lower respiratory diseases, 2.8% for unintentional injuries, 2.2% for cancer, 1.6% for Alzheimer disease, 1.3% for stroke, and 0.8% for heart disease; and increased 4.2% for flu and pneumonia and 1.4% for suicide.
“In 2018, for the first time in more than two decades, fewer Americans died of drug overdoses than the year before, and for the first time in four years, American life expectancy rose,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “This news is a real victory, and it should be a source of encouragement for all Americans who have been committed to connecting people struggling with substance abuse to treatment and recovery.”