Hospitals

Wow of the week: Americans live fast, die young, age gracefully after 75

There was some good news but a lot of bad news for death rates in the US compared with other industrialized, high income countries in a study of 17 industrialized countries. Americans are more likely to die younger and have higher rates of diseases and injuries compared with 16 other countries including Japan, Canada, Australia […]

There was some good news but a lot of bad news for death rates in the US compared with other industrialized, high income countries in a study of 17 industrialized countries. Americans are more likely to die younger and have higher rates of diseases and injuries compared with 16 other countries including Japan, Canada, Australia and many European nations, according to a report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.

Even Americans with health insurance, college educations, higher incomes and healthy behaviors seem to be sicker than people fitting this description in other countries. The U.S. ranks at or near the bottom in nine health areas including: infant mortality and low birth weight; injuries and homicides; teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections; prevalence of HIV and AIDS; drug-related deaths; obesity and diabetes; heart disease; chronic lung disease; and disability.

Still, once Americans hit 76, the good times roll — they live longer, death rates are lower for stroke and cancer, and they have better control of blood pressure, cholesterol levels and lower rates of smoking.

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Steve Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond chaired the report panel and told New Scientists that drugs and guns are partly to blame:

“[Americans] consume the most calories per person, have higher rates of drug abuse, are less likely to use seat belts, and are more likely to use firearms in acts of violence,” says Woolf.