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Local News

Health Outcomes in Wisconsin Have Improved but Lives are Lost to Drug Use Disorders


Armand Jackson

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has measured health outcomes in Wisconsin comparing data between 1990 and 2019 and discovered that overall health within the state has improved through the past three decades. The population of Wisconsin is around 5.9 million with female residents in 2019 on average living to be 81 years old, a one year increase from 1990, and male residents living to be 77 years old, a three year increase. 

The top ten causes of death in 2019 across all ages are ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, COPD, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic kidney disease, colorectal cancer, lower respiratory infection, people falling, and diabetes. The largest percentage increase in these causes is chronic kidney disease at 33.7 percent with the second largest being people falling at 31.9 percent. Child mortality rates have also declined with the number of deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019 being 6.4 for children under five years of age, a 2.8 decrease from 1990 and 5.5 for children under one years of age, a 2.2 decrease.

What causes the most deaths and disabilities combined in Wisconsin is drug abuse disorders at an almost 80 percent increase over the last three decades. This is the same case for top risk factors that drive the most deaths and disabilities combined. From 1990 to 2019, the top three risk factors are drug use at 68.7 percent, high fasting plasma glucose at 24.5 percent, and kidney dysfunction at 24.1 percent.

Based on this data there seems to be an issue with opioid misuse within Wisconsin for years. In 2020 there was a rate of 25.0 per 100,000 opioid-related deaths and a rate of 47.8 per 100,000 emergency room visits for opioid-related cases within Racine County. In Kenosha County, there was a rate of 25.5 per 100,000 opioid-related deaths and a rate of 54.2 per 100,000 emergency room visits for opioid-related cases. So while overall health outcomes in Wisconsin have improved in the past three decades, there is still work needed to address the rise of death due to drug abuse disorders within the state.