Life Expectancy Climbing in Area Counties

By Hogstrom, Erik | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), April 29, 2012 | Go to article overview

Life Expectancy Climbing in Area Counties


Hogstrom, Erik, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


A boy born in Dubuque County will live on average more than four years longer than a boy born in the county 20 years ago - and a few months longer than the average Iowa male.

Those estimates come from county-by-county life-expectancy

figures recently released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The institute study demonstrates that life expectancy varies widely by state and county.

While men in Dubuque County have life expectancies (77.3 in 2009, up from 72.9 in 1989) similar to men living in affluent, developed nations such as the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany, men living in some counties in Mississippi only live as long as men living in Egypt and Indonesia.

Dubuque women live about as long as the average American woman (81.1 years in Dubuque, compared to 81.3 in the U.S.).

"This is great news," said Patrice Lambert, director of the Dubuque County Public Health Department. "I think that improving life expectancy says that the county is actively participating in healthy behaviors and interventions."

Beyond the numbers, life expectancy provides a view of community well-being.

"Increased life expectancy has a lot to do with health environment and access to health care," said Jeff Kindrai, director of the Grant County (Wis.) Health Department.

Grant County's life expectancy for men improved from 73.3 years for men in 1989 to 76.6 in 2009, but still trails the Wisconsin average of 77.4. Grant County women lag behind the state average slightly, 81.2 to 82.4.

Here is a look at life expectancy across the tri-state area.

Differences

Research shows the primary reasons for life-expectancy disparities nationwide were preventable causes of death, including tobacco use, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and excessive alcohol use. Men have inadequately treated high blood pressure and high cholesterol, compared to women, helping to explain the gap in life expectancy.

Lengthened life expectancies, but ...

Tri-state area counties generally lag behind the rest of the country in rate of improvement during the past two decades.

"Only Delaware in Iowa is improving at a rate faster than the national average for men and only Clayton County, Iowa, is improving at a rate faster than the national average for women," said William Heisel, assistant director for external relations for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. …

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