The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the age-adjusted death rate for African Americans dropped 25 percent in the last 17 years.
Despite the progress, the CDC concluded that there are substantial race-based disparities in health care. Black people also have a lower life expectancy compared to white people, of four years less.
The report shows that African Americans between 18 and 49 years of age are still two times more likely to die from heart disease compared to white people.
Death rates of different ethnicities
The study, part of the CDC’s Vital Signs Bulletin, starts off by claiming that “African Americans are living longer,” and that their death rate declined by about a fourth in the last 17 years, but this is mainly for people aged 65 and older.
Then, the report shows that younger African Americans are now dying more often from conditions that are usually found in older white people. There is also a significant gap in health differences due to economic and social conditions, evidenced in surveys revealing that black people are more likely to refrain from reporting a disease if they are unable to afford consultation or treatment.
The CDC reports that young African Americans are living with diseases that are more common at older ages, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. This is condensed into a simple sentence within the study: “African Americans are more likely to die at early ages from all causes.”
The reason for the disparity in death rates for black people older than 65 appears to be that black folks who suffer from chronic or hereditary illnesses have already passed away, although mortality rates are affected by both medical and socioeconomic factors.
The factors considered by the CDC that influence the mortality of blacks are unemployment, poverty, being homeless, obesity, inactivity, and not being able to visit a doctor. Curiously, the only rate in which white people mortality is higher or equal than that of black people is for smokers aged 18 to 49.
Much more room for improvement
While it may appear in headlines that now “black people live longer than white people,” the truth is that black people mortality is starting to resemble that of white people. 15 years ago, African Americans had a life expectancy of 71.8 years, while whites had an expectancy of 77.3 years. The rate for both has improved, as black people are now expected to live an average of 75.6 years while white people should live around 79 years.
The CDC recommends investing in education, health care, and working with diverse government sectors to promote a decent state of health, starting in childhood. They also suggest improving the conditions in which doctors and nurses can visit health centers to perform routine visits to provide the communities with some way to resort to a medical practitioner.
“For these 17 years, for all causes of death in all ages, the disparity in deaths went down by more than half. Even so, critical disparities remain. However, we need to continue raising awareness among blacks from an early age to encourage healthy behaviours that will have a lifelong impact,” stated Leandris Liburd, director of CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity.