Blog | Friday, July 12, 2013

QD: News Every Day--U.S. health an issue of quantity, not quality

Overall health in the U.S. is a mixed bag, with life expectancy and healthy life expectancy on the rise, while morbidity and chronic disability accounting for nearly half of the nation's health burden and the U.S. finding itself falling behind other wealthy nation's progress in public health.

Researchers noted that, "The gap between life expectancy and [healthy life expectancy], a measure of the expected number of healthy years that an individual loses to disability--increased from 9.4 years to 10.1 years. In other words, individuals in the United States are living longer but are not necessarily in good health."

Researchers parsed the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study for 187 countries from 1990 to 2010 to analyze 291 diseases and injuries, 1,160 sequelae and 67 risk factors or clusters of risk factors for the U.S. and 33 other economically developed countries.

Results appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Among the findings:
--U.S. life expectancy for both sexes combined rose from 75.2 years in 1990 to 78.2 years in 2010, while healthy life expectancy rose from 65.8 years to 68.1 years;
--Diseases and injuries that cost the most years of lost life were ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and road injury. Age-standardized years of lost life rose for Alzheimer's, drug use disorders, chronic kidney disease, kidney cancer and falls;
--Diseases with the largest number of years living with disability included low back pain, major depressive disorder, other musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain and anxiety disorders;
--The leading risk factors related to disability-adjusted life years were dietary risks, tobacco smoking, high body mass index, high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose, physical inactivity, and alcohol use.

Compared to other economically developed nations, from 1990 to 2010, the U.S. rank for the age-standardized death rate changed from 18th to 27th, for the age-standardized years of lost life rank fell from 23rd to 28th, for the age-standardized years of living with disability fell from fifth to sixth, life expectancy at birth fell from 20th to 27th, and healthy life expectancy fell from 14th to 26th.