Nevada ranks poorly in life expectancy |

Nevada ranks poorly in life expectancy

The average life expectancy at birth for Nevadans is 78.1 years, which places Nevada 36th among all the states, according to a recent survey.

The U.S. national life expectancy is 78.8 years, a rise of 0.1 percent, reports the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency under the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Hawaii has the highest life expectancy at birth at 81.3 years, followed by Minnesota at 81.1.

Mississippi, at 75 years, and West Virginia, at 75.4, have the two lowest.

“Nevada is the eighth-lowest state in terms of the health of senior citizens, the third-lowest in the number of primary care physicians, the eighth-lowest in child poverty …”

The figures also indicate that the average American adult who reached 65 years of age by the end of 2012, when the processing of the data began, can expect to live an additional 19.3 years, or 84.3 years old.

The report also provides good news for American females, both young and old.

The average girl at birth has a life expectancy of 81.2 years, which is 4.5 years longer than the average boy.

The average woman who reaches 65 will live an additional 20.5 years to 85.5 years old, which is 2.6 years longer than the average man who reaches 65.

The rate of death in the United States, the report added, hit a record low of 732.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2012, decreasing 1.1 percent from 2011. This reflects a long-term trend in reducing mortality from major causes of death such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic respiratory disease.

As for Nevada’s life expectancy statistics, state and national health experts attribute Nevada’s comparatively low ranking to other, equally low indicators that are directly related to overall good health.

According to the nationwide America’s Health Rankings report sponsored by the American Health Association, Nevada is the eighth-lowest state in terms of the health of senior citizens, the third-lowest in the number of primary care physicians, the eighth-lowest in child poverty, and has a senior citizen suicide rate twice the national average.

Concerning smoking, 20.8 percent of Americans use tobacco, while the Nevada figure, which has declined over the past few years, is 23.2 percent. Nevadans 65 and older smoke at a rate of 11.2 percent, while the average American 65 or older smokes at a rate of 6.7 percent.

A Kaiser Family Foundation report in April of this year stated that although Nevada’s health care expenditures grew at an average of 9.2 percent annually between 1991 and 2009, the state’s population also expanded rapidly during that period, and thus Nevada’s growth in health care spending is only 4.9 percent, the fourth-lowest in the nation.

A survey issued by the Nevada Wellness Project, funded by a grant provided by the Dept. of Health and Human Services and administered by the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, concluded:

“We challenge employers and all Nevadans to be a part of the Nevada Wellness movement and climb to the mountain tops for better health. The project strives to work with communities, employers, schools and health care providers to make changes that will make it easier for Nevadans to make healthy choices in their daily lives. Improving work environments by implementing worksite wellness programs is a key component to better the health of Nevadans.”

The life expectancy rates at birth for the average American (78.8 years old) and average Nevadan (78.1) fall below those who live in several other countries, according to a United Nations survey of its 193 member nations.

Japan had a 84.6 average life expectancy rate, followed by Singapore, Sweden and Iceland.

The worst-ranking of the U.N. members was Somalia, with an average life expectancy rate of 50 years old. The other lowest-ranking nations also are located in Africa.

Of all the nations in the U.N., the United States ranked 34th.

David C. Henley is Publisher Emeritus of the LVN.