MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Peter M. Rhee, MD, MPH
Chief, Division of Trauma, Critical Care, Burn and Emergency Surgery
Professor of Surgery, Medical Director, UMC Trauma Center
Co-Medical Director, Pediatric ICU
Program Director, Acute Care Surgery Fellowship
University of Arizona
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Rhee: In just 10 years from 2000 to 2010, the death rate from cancer and cardiovascular disease in the United Sates has been falling according to the data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). But during the same time period, the number of people that died from trauma increased by 23%. As a result, Trauma is now the leading cause of death in the United States for those aged 47 and younger. Just 10 years ago trauma used to be the leading cause of death for those aged 42 and younger.
It is also the leading cause of cumulative death for those younger than 59. As our population ages and we live longer, trauma is no longer the disease of the young. In 2000, those between the ages of 17-27 made up the largest group of trauma deaths. In 2010, the group with the largest trauma deaths were 45-55. In fact the number of deaths in 54 year olds more than doubled as trauma deaths increased by 118% in just 10 years.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Rhee: The results were surprising in how quickly the changes are occurring and how much the trauma deaths are in the older population. It is suspected but not yet proven that as we as a population are getting healthier and more active, that we are more susceptible to trauma and its consequences more than ever.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Rhee: Trauma is not a disease only of the young and it effects everyone of every age. These changes are nationwide and the highest number of trauma deaths are in the baby boomer generation as well as the elderly. We should also be aware of the magnitude of trauma on our daily lives.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Rhee: With the maturation of the trauma system in this country which arguably is one of the best in the world, the mortality rate at these trauma centers has been decreasing. The question is then with improvement in access and treatment of trauma patients, what is the real cause for these increasing trauma deaths. Future research is needed in the field of trauma more than ever. However, national funding for research allocated to trauma is only a 10th of what is currently allocated to cancer in 2012. Trauma is the greatest increasing killer in our era. Trauma has been invisible to policy makers who allocate resources.
Increasing Trauma Deaths in the United States
Ann Surg. 2014 Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print]
Rhee P1, Joseph B, Pandit V, Aziz H, Vercruysse G, Kulvatunyou N, Friese RS.