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U.S. Life Expectancy at All-Time High

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September 7, 2009

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As seen in the New York Times! I thought it was such a great article and didn’t want to alter it! Enjoy!
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Americans are living nearly two-and-a-half months longer, according to new life expectancy statistics released today. In 2007, life expectancy in the United States reached a high of nearly 78 years, up from 77.7 a year earlier.

Life expectancy in the United States has been on the rise for a decade, increasing 1.4 years — from 76.5 years in 1997 to 77.9 in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The life expectancy data, compiled by the agency’s National Center for Health Statistics, are based on nearly 90 percent of the death certificates filed in the United States.

Doctors say that not only is lifespan increasing, but more important, the “active” lifespan is increasing as well.

“The most noteworthy aspect about all this is not just that people are living longer but living better,” said Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. “At the same time, people are living a longer active lifespan. Seniors are healthier, more active and economically better off than they ever have been.”

Despite the good news, Dr. Kennedy warns that the data are from 2007, before the economic downturn, which could take a toll on health and life expectancy.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see differences in the future because of the economic stress people are under,” he said. “It’s good news now, but there could be some painful realities ahead.”

The report found that both men and women are living longer, although a gap of five years remains between men and women. In 2007, average life expectancy was 80.4 years for women, but 75.3 years for men. Although men still die younger than women, the gap has narrowed slightly. In 1979, women outlived men by nearly eight years.

Despite the gains, U.S. life expectancy still lags many other countries. According to the World Health Organization, 14 countries in 2007 had life expectancies of at least 81 years, including Japan (83), Australia and Italy (82) and France, Israel, Singapore and Spain (81).

In the U.S., African-American men also tend to die younger than men overall, but for the first time life expectancy for black males has reached 70 years.

The C.D.C. also reported a 10 percent drop in death rates related to H.I.V./AIDS, the biggest one year decline in mortality since 1998. H.I.V. is the sixth leading cause of death among 25 to 44 year olds.

Overall, the United States death rate continues to drop. In 2007, there were 760.3 deaths per 100,000 population, down from the 2006 rate of 776.5. And 2,269 fewer people died in the United States in 2007 than 2006.

Nearly half the deaths in 2007 (48.5 percent) were due to heart disease and cancer. However, fewer people overall died from heart disease-related problems like stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Among the 15 leading causes of death, mortality rates dropped for 8 of them. In 2007, fewer people died of influenza and pneumonia (8.4 percent decline), homicide (6.5 percent decline), accidents
(5 percent decline), heart disease (4.7 percent decline), stroke (4.6 percent decline), diabetes
(3.9 percent decline), hypertension (2.7 percent decline) and cancer (1.8 percent decline).

Nicole Gruendl
Life and Success Coach
Nicole@NicoleGruendl.com

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