American death rate rises for the first time in a decade; attributed to drug overdose, suicide and Alzheimer’s

For the first time since 2005, the United States mortality rate has increased. There were 729.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, and  723.2 in 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Experts say the increase could be connected to an increase in suicides, Alzheimer’s disease, and drug overdoses among white working class Americans.

The national mortality rate has been on a steady decline for years so an increase is unusual. For example, American Deaths per 100,000 people were 885.9 in 2002; 813.7 2004; 815 in 2005; 723.2 in 2014; and 729.5 in 2015. Heart disease and cancer are by far the largest killers of Americans.

The last increase in mortality was in 2005, during a bad flu season.

Physicians blamed more U.S. deaths on Alzheimer’s disease in 2015 than in 2014. During a period when the age-adjusted death rate for heart disease, cancer, pneumonia and influenza held steady, the age-adjusted death rate for Alzheimer’s disease increased from 25.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2014 to 29.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2015. Some observers say the rise in Alzheimer’s deaths may simply reflect more accurate recording on death certificates.

Drug overdoses rose in 2015. In the second quarter of 2014, the rate was 14.2 per 100,000 and for the same quarter in 2015, it was 15.2. Numbers for the second half of 2015 have not yet been released.

Suicides rose from 12.7 per 100,000 in the third quarter of 2014 to 13.1 in the same quarter of 2015.

Over a 40 year period, Alzheimer’s disease is projected to cost $20 trillion in constant dollars to Medicare and Medicaid alone, rising to over $1 trillion per year by 2050.

For more information and statistics on Alzheimer’s, see Guide To Long Term Care.

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