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Life expectancy of Americans has gone down


As we end this year, recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC-P) National Center for Health Statistics have entered the news that addresses of the life expectancy of Americans. The general life expectancy has declined for a second year after reaching a high of 78.8 years in 2014. It is now down to 78.6 years.

When we drill down on these numbers, we find that if you reach the age of 65 you can expect to live another 19.4 years- that is an increase. This highlights the data that death rates rose 7.8 percent in those ages 15-24, 10.5 percent in those 25-34, 6.7 percent in those 35-44 and one percent in those 55-64.

Black men saw a one percent increase in their death rate, while Black women saw no change.

So what is killing us? The cast of actors has remained the same with one change. The list includes: Heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, lower lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.

The change in the lineup is that unintentional injuries have moved to three. It was at number four the last time. The opioid epidemic with the increase in overdoses may account for that increase.

Okay, so you have the data. How can you use it to affect your life? How can you use it to increase your lifespan?

Certainly genes help but living a healthy lifestyle can also make a difference.

Try to maintain your weight without radical swings in your weight. What you eat is also very important. Look at trying a predominantly plant based diet. Look at how your food is grown. Remember four to five fruits and four to five vegetables are to be ingested each day.

Exercise is good for the body, soul and mind. It helps with the weight. It helps to maintain the body. More and more evidence shows that exercise elevates the mood and is good for you.

Stress reduction is important. Stress affects the cardiovascular systems of the body. Not to mention how it affects one’s mood.

It goes without saying that sleep is an important factor in health. More and more studies have shown how important it is and no, you cannot make up on lost sleep.

Get your check up and get those mammograms, colonoscopies, Pap, PSA and other blood test. Know you numbers and if they are off have a plan to improve them.

Get your immunizations. The flu and pneumonia vaccines help prevent deaths.

The unintentional injury group is one that can be moved. There are going to be accidents at work and in cars. The opioid epidemic and the excessive use of alcohol can be changed. If you have a family history of abuse, don’t tempt the gene gods. If you see that these substances change you in ways you do not like leave them alone. We see so many people having their lives changed by drugs. Do not be cocky enough to think you are different. Chances are good you are not.

Care for yourself. Honor your body and your life. Take care of your life and let’s see if we can all live a longer and productive life.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on North Carolina A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Email Dr. Bland at