According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation's life expectancy fell for a second-straight year, primarily due to deaths from COVID-19 and drug overdoses.
In two new reports, the CDC said the average life expectancy in the U.S. decreased from 77 years in 2020 to 76.4 years in 2021, the shortest it's been since 1996.
Although 0.6 years isn't insignificant, it marks a significant drop of 1.8 years when the average life expectancy in 2019 was 78.8 years, the CDC data showed.
According to the CDC data, 3,464,231 people died in the U.S. last year, 80,502 more than the total reported in 2020.
The CDC said the 10 leading causes of death last year were essentially unchanged in 2020, except for chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, the ninth leading cause of death last year, while influenza and pneumonia dropped from the list of 10 leading causes.
According to the CDC data, heart disease was the leading cause of death, second was cancer, and third was COVID-19.
Drug overdoses also played a primary factor in the average life expectancy dropping, according to the report.
Last year, there were 106,699 overdose deaths, nearly 16% higher than the 91,799 deaths recorded in 2020, according to the CDC report.
According to the CDC report, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, increased by 22% from 2020 to 2021.