Drug overdoses have contributed to an increase in the nation’s mortality rate, even in states with otherwise strong health rankings, according to the United Health Foundation’s 2017 America’s Health Rankings report.
Massachusetts, which was ranked the healthiest state in 2017 based on measures covering behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care and outcomes data, still saw a 69% increase in drug overdoses. New Hampshire had the highest increase – 118%. Nationwide, drug deaths increased 7%, the highest level recorded by America’s Health Rankings.
Nationally, the premature death rate increased 3% since 2015, following a 20% drop between 1990 and 2015. Cardiovascular deaths increased 2% since 2015, with some states reporting higher percentages. Utah, 2017’s fourth healthiest state, experienced a 10% increase in its cardiovascular death rate since 2012. An uneven concentration of health care providers across the country could account for these differences in mortality, the report said. Utah and Idaho have fewer than 100 primary care physicians per 100,000 population, compared to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island, which have more than 200.
“This report serves as an important tool for health care professionals, policymakers and communities in their collaborative efforts to address these challenges, and help build healthier communities across the nation,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., senior adviser to United Health Foundation, and chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “This is a call to action for each of us to make changes in our own lifestyles that can help improve our overall health and well-being.”
Click here to read the full report.