'We see that in Tatarstan quite a lot of people began to die before 'their term'

How the pandemic year has affected the average life expectancy in the regions of Russia

'We see that in Tatarstan quite a lot of people began to die before 'their term'
Photo: Maksim Platonov

For the first time in the last 17 years, life expectancy in Russia has decreased — the most important demographic indicator that characterises the death rate of the population. Against the background of the coronavirus pandemic, it has decreased by almost two years to 71,5 years, Realnoe Vremya found out, having studied Rosstat data for 2020. Such a sharp decline in the average life expectancy of Russians in our country has not been observed since 1993. Speaking in official language, we have fallen far back on the targets of national projects, but most importantly, a sad picture emerges behind the dry statistics. Realnoe Vremya has already written about the anti-record of mortality in the past year — the natural decline in Tatarstan was equal to the loss of the population of an entire city — 8,252 people. Nevertheless, on the scale of the Volga Region, the republic remains the leader in longevity.

Record decline in life expectancy of Russians

For the first time in the last 17 years, life expectancy in Russia has decreased to 71,5 years, having decreased by almost two years (1,8 years) over the past year. There has not been such a substantial decline since 1993.

In general, we can distinguish two periods when life expectancy in our country declined sharply: from 1991 to 1994 and from 1999 to 2003. In absolute terms, the country fell back five years to the level of 2015 and 2016, when life expectancy was about 72 years.

All this goes against the objectives set by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his decree 'On the National Development Goals of the Russian Federation until 2030': “I'm ordering to set the following targets for achieving the national goals by 2030: ( ... ) increasing life expectancy to 78 years.”

Speaking about possible causes, Artur Urazmanov, the director general of the multidisciplinary medical centre Zvezda, first of all noted the coronavirus, which has claimed a large number of lives of young people. Among the main reasons, he also highlighted the exacerbation of chronic diseases, when many died not from the virus itself, but from concomitant diseases, exacerbations and pathologies:

“We see, in particular in Tatarstan, quite a lot of people began to die before 'their term'," Artur Urazbayev noted with regret.

As they explained in the Federal State Statistics Service, data on gender differences have ceased to be published since 2020. But according to the already disclosed figures, it can be concluded that in the last decade, men live by 10,7 years less than women. According to the latest reporting data, the difference decreased to 9,9 years, and in 2011, it was 11,6 years.

In 2019, Russian men lived to an average of 68,24 years, and women — to 78,17 years. The lowest life expectancy for men in the last 30 years was in 1994 — only 57,4 years, for women — 71 years.

Main centenarians of Russia

The leaders among centenarians in Russia are the regions of the North Caucasus Federal District. The first place belongs to Ingushetia, where the life expectancy of people (in 2020) is more than 81 years. But the crisis year has also affected this region, where life expectancy has decreased in the same way as in Russia as a whole. In the best year of 2019, it was 83,4 years — this has been the maximum for our country over the past 30 years.

The second in life expectancy is Dagestan — 76,4 years. As Artur Urazmanov said: “They have always been leaders. People have always lived there long.” In his opinion, this is due to genetic predispositions and a very good “ecological component”:

“There are practically no production facilities, clean drinking water, which is important, the 'stress component' there is different. The way of life is very important, the closer we are to megacities, the more the average life expectancy falls, despite the increase in the quality of medical care.”

Diana Abdulganieva, the chief therapist of the ministry of healthcare of the Republic of Tatarstan, head of the therapeutic service of the Republican Clinical Hospital, said that this phenomenon has been studied in detail in the scientific, popular science environment. It has long been known, and a number of factors have been identified: the way and nature of life of the residents of the North Caucasian Federal District:

“In these republics, there is mountainous terrain, a certain type of food. In the mountainous area, there is a large number of cheese, meat products, a large amount of milk.”

It is believed that heavy physical activity, mountain air and a clean environment are traditional factors that affect a high life expectancy. However, according to Diana Abdulganieva, genetics should not be written off. The longevity of the inhabitants of the North Caucasus was known back in the days of the Russian Empire, when the average life expectancy was no more than 50-55 years.

It is believed that heavy physical activity, mountain air and a clean environment are traditional factors that affect a high life expectancy. Photo: wikipedia.org

The third in terms of life expectancy — Moscow — 76,2 years. “There were no studies that could be referred to. Probably, we can make an assumption that medical security and the quality of medical care provided to the population play a big role here," Abdulganieva suggested.

Artur Urazmanov holds about the same opinion. He believes that the reasons for the longevity of Moscow residents — in the high quality of medical care: here, pathologies are detected in time and are quickly responded.

“Moscow is the leading region in providing medical care. The capital is the leader in the concentration of high-tech medical care centres. In the early stages, pathology can be prevented or cured. Unfortunately, the regions are lagging behind. The further away from the centre, the more difficult it is," Artur Urazmanov admitted.

The Republic for many years belongs to the subject with the maximum life expectancy in the Volga Federal District. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Tatarstan residents — long-livers in the Volga Region

In our republic, life expectancy in 2020 was 72,6 years. This is the maximum age among all subjects of the Volga Federal District. However, a decrease in the life span of fellow countrymen last year was one of the maximum — by 2,4 years (from 75 years in 2019).

The republic for many years has belonged to the subject with the maximum life expectancy in the Volga Federal District. Among the reasons, she highlighted that Tatarstan is one of the first regions in the Volga Federal District that developed the routing of patients with life-threatening diseases, such as acute cerebrovascular accident and acute myocardial infarction. This routing, which covered all cities, districts, and localities of our republic, began more than 10 years ago:

“To put it simply, people living in Tatarstan are much less likely to die in hospitals from stroke and heart attack than in other subjects of the Volga Federal District," the medic summed up.

The situation is similar in the republic for patients with oncological diseases, which is the second among the causes of death in the structure of mortality. A branch of the oncological dispensary and primary oncological rooms were established there, which also affects the increase in life expectancy.

Artur Urazmanov sees the leadership of Tatarstan in terms of life expectancy in the Volga Federal District in the very high quality of medical care. Centers of high-tech medical care are concentrated in the republic, highly professional doctors work. Large investments are being made in the healthcare system of Tatarstan.

“Therefore, Tatarstan is one of the leaders in providing medical care, we must pay tribute to it," he said.

Women in the republic live on average 11 years longer than men over the past decade. At the same time, the difference of this value to the last calculations is being observed there. For example, if in 2011, the age of 65,38 years was set for men, and 77,18 for women, then by 2019, the figures were 69,74 and 79,92, respectively.

As Diana Abdulganieva explained, there are quite scientific reasons for this. The two main causes of death are diseases of the circulatory system and cancer.

“It is well known that in men, risk factors for the progression and development of, as we say, fatal cardiovascular disasters develop earlier. Already starting from the age of 45-47 years, a man may have hypercholesterolemia, high blood pressure, reduced physical activity, and excess body weight. In women, the same risk factors begin to manifest later, after a woman reaches 55-57 years of age. And these physiological causes are very well known. Besides, the frequency of smoking, as a factor that causes damage to the cardiovascular system (in men) is much higher than in women," concluded the interlocutor of the publication.

Artur Urazmanov agrees with this statement, noting that men have always had harder work: “Now the situation is changing. Women began to work on an equal basis with men, and to get into stressful situations.”

*Life expectancy — the value of the average life expectancy projected on the assumption that the mortality rates of the population at all ages in the future will remain the same as in the year under review. This is the most important integral demographic indicator, which is used in relation to the living generations.

By Yevgeny Khramov
Tatarstan