US life expectancy dropped sharply in 2020 following COVID-19, especially for men

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The pandemic helped push US life expectancy down to 77 years in 2020, a drop of 1.8 years from 2019, with bigger declines for men than women and for Black and Hispanic Americans than their White peers, according to final data newly released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

COVID-19, newly added to the list, became the third-biggest cause of death, accounting for more than 10 percent of the 3.4 million resident deaths registered in the year, the agency said.


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There were sharp increases in other causes of death too, reflecting broader strains caused by the pandemic and difficulties accessing medical treatment.

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From 2019 to 2020, age-adjusted death rates increased 4.1 percent for heart disease, 16.8 percent for unintentional injuries, 4.9 percent for strokes, 8.7 percent for Alzheimer disease, 14.8 percent for diabetes, and 5.7 percent for influenza and pneumonia.

The age-adjusted death rate for the total population increased 16.8 percent, the largest jump in a single year since annual mortality data became available.

Among both men and women, increases in death rates for Black and Hispanic Americans were bigger than those for Whites. The highest rates were among Black males, with 1,399 deaths per 100,000 in 2020.

Read more: Biden to expand COVID-19 testing, deploy US military personnel amid omicron surge

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