Americans' Lifespan Has Lengthened Markedly
< Mar. 14, 2012 > -- If it seems that more people are reaching the centennial mark, you're right. Over the last 75 years in the U.S., the risk of dying at any given point in time has fallen by 60 percent.
One reason for the drop in death rates is improved lifestyle choices, including smoking cessation. Another reason is advances in medical care, particularly in treating heart disease.
"The way we live now is much different than in the [1930s]," says Donna Hoyert, Ph.D., at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics and author of the lifespan study. "In the medical field, there have been advances and changes in behavior over time."
To compile the statistics for the report, published in this month's NCHS Data Brief, Dr. Hoyert used data on vital statistics from 1935 to 2010.
Highlights of the report include:
More work needed
Laurence Gardner, M.D., at the University of Miami, says that antibiotics have played an important role in improved death rates. And more aggressive treatment for heart disease, including the widespread use of statins to lower cholesterol levels, has also helped.
But Dr. Gardner says improvements still need to be made in cancer treatment and in preventing obesity.
"If we don't effectively address the obesity/diabetes issue, we may lose some of the benefit we have gained," he says. "We haven't seen the effect of the epidemic of obesity and diabetes reflected in the death rate [yet]."
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Lifestyle Tips for Longevity
If you want to live long and live well, consider the advice of longevity experts: Stay physically, socially, and mentally active, and stick to a healthy diet. Ask your doctor to help you start a safe exercise plan that fits your abilities. Get advice from your doctor or a nutrition expert on setting up a diet plan. Call a friend, join a group, and find ways to interact with others.
Here are more tips for longevity:
Finally, don't forget to get enough sleep and to keep a positive attitude. If you want to live to 100, the sooner you get going, the better your chances of getting there.
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.