Thursday, August 20, 2009

Americans Gained 73 Days to Live in 2007, CDC Says

“Life expectancy in the U.S. rose to a record 77.9 years, from 77.7 in 2006, according to preliminary data released today by the National Center for Health Statistics, a U.S. agency. The gain amounted to 10.4 weeks. A continuing decline in mortality rates for the top two killers, heart disease and cancer, contributed to the change. So did a 10 percent drop in deaths from the AIDS virus, the steepest decline since 1998. The U.S. still lags behind industrialized countries such as Japan, where life expectancy exceeds 80 years, said Sam Harper, an assistant professor in the epidemiology department at McGill University in Montreal. ‘That’s an ongoing area of investigation that people are rightly concerned about given how much money we’re spending in the U.S. on health care,’ Harper said today by telephone. ‘There’s clearly room for the U.S. to grow.’ Exercise and better diets are helping Americans make headway in preventing heart disease, Raul Caetano, dean of the University of Texas Southwestern School of Health Professions in Dallas, said today in a telephone interview. Cholesterol drugs have also reduced heart disease, while better care for patients with heart problems has lowered fatalities, he said. Improved cancer prevention and treatments have also pushed mortality rates down. Together, heart disease and cancer accounted for 48.5 percent of all deaths in 2007, the agency said. The mortality rate from heart disease dropped 4.7 percent, and from cancer, 1.8 percent.”

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