Scotland's life expectancy falls as drugs deaths spiral
Scotland's spiralling drug deaths has contributed to a fall in life expectancy levels across Scotland in recent years, it has emerged.
The country now has lower life expectancy levels than the majority of EU countries, including all the more affluent countries in the "EU 15".
A slowdown in improvements to deaths resulting from heart disease has been the main factor in the freeze in how long Scots are expected to live, according to the figures released by the National Records for Scotland.
The increase in drugs deaths in recent years has also contributed the decrease, as well as growing rates of dementia as the population ages.
The small decline life expectancy means the average life expectancy of a male in Scotland is now 77, while a woman can expect to live to 81.1.
This marks a small decline of 0.1 years in the latest figures for 2015-17 published by NRS today.
Paul Lowe, the register General for Scotland, said: "Life expectancy in Scotland has been increasing over the long term, but recent estimates indicate that it has stopped improving.
"The largest causes of the stall in life expectancy are the slowing of improvements seen in the reduction of deaths fro heart disease and increases in drug related deaths."
Scottish Government External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said Scotland faces "challenges" over its population.
She said: "Against a backdrop of a record fall in the birth rate, Scotland’s population is ageing with a shift in population from the west to east and declining population in rural areas.
“With all of Scotland’s population growth predicted to come from migration, the impact and risk of Brexit means that we may not have a large enough working age population to support public services, industries and our economy."