Americans living longer, healthier lives - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Americans living longer, healthier lives

Updated: July 29, 2013 10:03 AM
© iStockphoto.com / Digital Skillet © iStockphoto.com / Digital Skillet

MONDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- Not only has Americans' life expectancy increased in recent decades, they also are healthier later in life, a new study shows.

"With the exception of the year or two just before death, people are healthier than they used to be," study author David Cutler, a professor of applied economics at Harvard University, said in a university news release.

"Effectively, the period of time in which we're in poor health is being compressed until just before the end of life," Cutler said. "Where we used to see people who are very, very sick for the final six or seven years of their life, that's now far less common. People are living to older ages and we are adding healthy years, not debilitated ones."

In this study, Cutler and his colleagues analyzed health data collected from nearly 90,000 Medicare beneficiaries between 1991 and 2009. They compared this data with survey responses on how well the people were able to care for themselves -- whether they were able to cook, clean, bathe, dress, walk and manage money -- to determine how healthy the people were in relation to how close they were to dying.

Increased access to and improvements in health care are among the reasons people are healthier later in life, but further research is needed to identify all the factors.

"There seems to be a clear relationship between some conditions that are no longer as debilitating as they once were and areas of improvement in medicine," Cutler said.

"The most obvious is cardiovascular disease -- there are many fewer heart attacks today than there used to be, because people are now taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, and recovery is much better from heart attacks and strokes than it used to be," he said. "A person who suffered a stroke used to be totally disabled, but now many will survive and live reasonable lives. People also rebound quite well from heart attacks."

People's knowledge of how to live healthier lives also has improved.

"People are much better educated about their health now," Cutler said. "People are taking steps to help prevent long-term cognitive decline. We don't have any way yet to slow down something like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, but there is a lot we can do for other health problems."

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians outlines good health habits for people 60 and older.

Health News Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Stopping Tinnitus In Its Tracks

    Stopping Tinnitus In Its Tracks

    Thursday, April 24 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-24 21:15:06 GMT
    Terry Price had tinnitus: a constant high-pitched ringing in the ears. He had to give up music and even contemplated retiring. Now, researchers are planning a clinical trial to test Vagus nerve stimulation.
    more>>
    Terry Price had tinnitus: a constant high-pitched ringing in the ears. He had to give up music and even contemplated retiring. Now, researchers are planning a clinical trial to test Vagus nerve stimulation.

    more>>
  • Growing Stem Cells In Space?

    Growing Stem Cells In Space?

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-23 21:15:09 GMT
    Hemorrhagic stroke is responsible for more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths. It happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain.more>>
    Hemorrhagic stroke is responsible for more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths. It happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain.more>>
  • New Laser Treatment Stops Some Epileptic Seizures

    New Laser Treatment Stops Some Epileptic Seizures

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:00 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:00:21 GMT
    More than two million adults in the United States have epilepsy and 150,000 more will develop the condition each year. Usually, medication can control seizures, but about 30 percent of patients do not respond. Now, patients have a new treatment option that uses lasers to stop the seizures.
    more>>
    More than two million adults in the United States have epilepsy and 150,000 more will develop the condition each year. Usually, medication can control seizures, but about 30 percent of patients do not respond. Now, patients have a new treatment option that uses lasers to stop the seizures.

    more>>
  • Heating Up Breast Cancer

    Heating Up Breast Cancer

    Monday, April 21 2014 6:15 PM EDT2014-04-21 22:15:09 GMT
    Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure. Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she’s trying something new.
    more>>
    Two years ago, doctors told Lisa Ridgeway she had triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive disease with no cure. Lisa had surgery, radiation, and chemo, but her cancer came back two more times. Now she’s trying something new.

    more>>
  • Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Friday, April 18 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-18 21:15:06 GMT
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
  • Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:15:09 GMT
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure, but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms.more>>
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure for SMA but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms, it targets mutated SMN genes, which are responsible for SMA.more>>
  • Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:15:09 GMT
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
  • Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Friday, April 11 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-11 21:15:07 GMT
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a rare type of melanoma that targets the eye. It can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a type of melanoma that targets the eye. It affects about 2,000 people a year in the United States. Although rare – it can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
  • Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Thursday, April 10 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-10 21:15:09 GMT
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
  • Pedaling For A Cure

    Pedaling For A Cure

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.