Orange County residents with a severe mental illness tend to die earlier, about 18 years earlier, than the general population. Specifically, the average age at death for residents with a documented mental illness was 58.5 years, compared to 76.2 years among deaths to residents without any mention of a mental illness on their death certificate.
Nearly 8 in 10 residents with a mental illness died prematurely (before age 75) compared to only 36% of all deaths to County residents without any mention of mental illness. This increased mortality is largely due to treatable medical conditions caused by modifiable risk factors such as smoking, obesity, substance abuse, psychotropic medication side effects, and inadequate access to medical care.
This new study examines the leading causes of premature death in Orange County residents. Over 6,000 deaths in 2010 were premature – to people less than 75 years of age. The three leading causes of premature death were cancer, heart disease, and unintentional injury (primarily drug overdose). Unintentional injury deaths primarily due to drug overdoses were the number one cause of premature death for young people (15-24 years old) and young adults (25-44 years old). The entire community has a role in promoting healthier behaviors, such as physical activity, smoking cessation, and the prevention of drug abuse in order to reduce premature deaths in Orange County. The Health Care Agency recently launched the campaign Eat.Play.Breathe. to promote the website myHealthOC.org that offers resources and practical tips on quitting smoking, increasing physical activity and improving diet.
Making Orange County a safe, healthy, and fulfilling place to live, work, and play, today and for generations to come, by providing outstanding, cost-effective regional public services.
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