A comprehensive report published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found Alabama ranked third-worst in premature death, or dying between the ages of 20 to 55. West Virginia came in first, followed by Mississippi.
The study looked at life expectancy and other key health measures across the U.S.
One contributor to Alabama’s third-worst ranking on premature death: the combined years of life lost to opioid misuse increased more than 900 percent. Another contributor was the chronic lung disease COPD. Smoking is the top risk factor for both death and disability in Alabama. Others include high body mass index, high blood pressure, and alcohol use.
Though U.S. death rates have declined, the study concludes there are significant health differences among states.
But there was some good news in Alabama: the years of life infants lost to preterm birth complications dropped 35 percent over the study period.