Harvard Heart Letter

What's more important than your life span? Your health span

The concept of aging is changing. Instead of thinking simply about length of life—the life span—attention is turning to "health span"—the length of healthy life. Because heart attack and stroke are the leading causes of death and disability in older age, doing everything possible to lower the likelihood of developing these so-called "cardiovascular events" increases the health span. Ideally, the process should start in childhood and last throughout life. More often, awareness begins with thoughts of retirement. People often wonder, "What will my life be like after I retire? How many years of good health will I have?" The approach one takes to growing older can mean the difference between a few years, or a few decades, of good health.
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