Aging

Children born today in the United States can expect to live nearly 78 years. That life expectancy is a great leap forward from 1900, when the average newborn couldn’t expect to reach age 50. Similar increases have been seen in in developed nations all around the world. In the 20th century, life expectancy increased more than it had in any century since the beginning of human civilization.

Life expectancy at various ages in teh United States

And the longer you live, the longer you can expect to live. Average life expectancy for a newborn American is 78 years, while it is 84 years for a 65-year-old and 87 years for a 75-year old.

But extending the lifespan has also increased the burden of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, and other conditions that tend to affect older individuals. Most of these diseases, though, aren't inevitable consequences of aging. Instead, many are preventable.

Solid research from long-term studies such as the Framingham Heart Study, the Nurses' Health Study, and others have shown that the combination of not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar in check can prevent three-quarters or more of these chronic conditions.

Aging Articles

Keeping your weight stable in older age

To gain weight safely in older age, eat several smaller meals and focus on nutrient-dense foods. Examples include oatmeal with berries and walnuts; a salad with spinach, tomatoes, cheese, beans, shelled sunflower seeds, and avocado dressing; brown rice with raisins, almonds, chicken chunks, and asparagus pieces; or simple meals and snacks such as scrambled eggs with cheese or whole-wheat crackers with peanut butter. A healthy weight gain should happen slowly. Aim for gaining 2 or 3 pounds per month. (Locked) More »

Recognizing a common cause of exercise-related leg pain

Peripheral artery disease, in which fatty deposits block blood flow in arteries outside the heart, particularly the legs, is as common in women as it is in men. The condition can be prevented and should be treated early to prevent serious complications, including amputation. (Locked) More »

Sex hormones and your heart

As people age, the natural decline in sex hormone levels sometimes causes undesirable symptoms, including hot flashes and a flagging sex drive. Thanks to new evidence, information about the cardiovascular safety of estrogen and testosterone therapy has shifted over the years. For women with uncomfortable, frequent hot flashes that disrupt their sleep and daily function, hormone therapy is an option for those who are not at high cardiovascular risk. Men with troubling sexual dysfunction and fatigue may want to ask their doctor about checking their testosterone levels. In men ages 65 and older with low levels, testosterone therapy may improve libido and sexual satisfaction. (Locked) More »

Tips for better bowel control

Stool can leak out of the rectum accidentally—a condition called fecal incontinence—as a result of aging, an underlying condition, or damage to nerves or muscles. A fiber supplement such as Metamucil or Citrucel can help reduce incidents of loose stool leakage. An over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication such as loperamide (Imodium) can also help. A surgical procedure called sacral nerve stimulation can help curb solid stool incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises can also help reduce leakages, but won’t solve the problem. More »

Deep-vein blood clots: What you need to know

A blood clot that forms in a vein, known as venous thromboembolism (VTE), is the third most common cause of cardiovascular death. Most of these fatalities occur when a clot travels from the leg to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism. VTE occurs in an estimated one in 1,000 people in the United States every year. Factors that increase a person’s risk of heart disease, such as age, smoking, and being overweight or obese, also raise the risk of VTE. Other contributing factors include recent surgery, hospitalization, injury to a vein, and decreased blood flow, usually caused by immobility. (Locked) More »

Put your best foot forward

Most people experience foot pain at some time during their lives, and the pain often becomes persistent. Years of daily wear and tear, a genetic predisposition to foot problems and injuries can lead to three common conditions: arch collapse (or flat feet), arthritis, or stress fractures. (Locked) More »

Stay active, even with stiff ankles

Ankles typically stiffen over time for one reason or another, such as osteoarthritis, ankle impingement, old injuries, inflammatory disease, tendinitis, or foot problems such as flat feet. Treatment depends on the cause of ankle stiffness. Treating underlying conditions may ease symptoms. Icing and rest can also help tendinitis or inflammation. In cases of misalignment, bone spurs, or significant joint arthritis, surgery may be the best option. Often, however, ankle stiffness can be treated simply with physical therapy, weight control, daily exercise, and stretching. (Locked) More »