Life expectancy is up in the United States; how SWLA compares

Updated: Feb. 4, 2020 at 10:28 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Life expectancy in the United States is up for the first time in years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s report on data from 2018 show a decrease in death rates from cancer and drug overdoses. Dr. Timothy Haman, an Infectious Disease Specialist with CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana, says that’s in part due to preventative healthcare becoming more common.

“That’s where we see the biggest benefit and I think that’s where we have made a lot of progress, especially locally," Dr. Haman said. “We have the breast center where we have genetic screening and things like that to where you can get screened when you are younger, see your lifetime risk, and take preventative steps. That’s where I think the biggest effort has been made in Louisiana. Is to try and increase screening because that’s where you get the biggest bang for your buck, to treat things before they spread early and you get chances of a better outcome.”

Death rates related to diabetes and kidney disease stayed around the same in the U.S. It’s something Dr. Haman says is a problem in our area.

“We, you know, unfortunately, in Louisiana have a higher rate of diabetes," Dr. Haman said. "That’s something that we need to try and control because kidney disease ties directly to diabetes. With uncontrolled diabetes comes progression to kidney damage.”

Deaths from influenza, pneumonia, and suicide when up. Dr. Haman says while officials in the United States continue to monitor the coronavirus, he says people should also focus on how dangerous the flu is. 10,000 people have died so far this flu season.

“It’s important to not lose focus of what’s here and what is literally causing deaths every day,” Dr. Haman said. “While we are monitoring the coronavirus and we are ready if it shows up, I am much more worried about seeing patients with the flu.”

He says a few friendly tips to living a healthy lifestyle: going to a primary care physician at least once a year, getting 30 minutes of exercise four times a week, watching your diet, and if you haven’t yet, getting your flu shot.

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