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Life expectancy in most US counties falls behind world's healthiest nations
Date:6/15/2011

lose years of life expectancy. In Arizona, Yuma County's average life expectancy for men increased 8.5 years, nearly twice the national average, while neighboring La Paz County, lost a full year of life expectancy, the steepest drop nationwide. Nationally, life expectancy increased 4.3 years for men and 2.4 years for women between 1987 and 2007.

"By creating this time series, which has never been available at the county level, we hope states and counties will be able to take targeted action," Dr. Sandeep Kulkarni, an IHME research fellow and the paper's lead author, said. "Counties in one part of the state should not be benefiting from big increases in life expectancy while other counties are actually seeing life spans shrink."

The authors propose that state and local policymakers use the life expectancy data and the county comparisons to tailor strategies that will fit the dynamics of their communities. This resonates with local policymakers, such as Dr. David Fleming, Director of Public Health - Seattle & King County.

"It's not the health care system that's having the biggest impact on health; it's the community," Dr. Fleming said. "The average person in the US spends one hour annually in a physician's office unless they are really sick. So until we start moving our interventions out into the communities where people live, we are not going to get ahead of these problems."

The Seattle & King County health department is collaborating with IHME on an ambitious analysis of health in King County, one of the largest studies of its kind. Called the Monitoring Disparities in Chronic Conditions (MDCC) Study, researchers are integrating data from emergency medical services, hospital discharge databases, pharmacy records, and other sources to identify the biggest health challenges in King County. They are surveying 9,000 people and taking blood samples to analyze for a range of risk factors and diseases.

"We are building the evidence for focused i
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Contact: William Heisel
wheisel@uw.edu
206-897-2886
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Source:Eurekalert

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