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

Alzheimer's in the family

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease raises concerns for multiple people in a family. For the person’s children and siblings, the diagnosis means they are at slightly increased risk of developing the condition. However, genetic testing for Alzheimer’s risk genes is not generally helpful.  More »

Cheap reading glasses: Helpful or harmful?

Inexpensive magnifying reading glasses are fine for some people, but only after a professional eye examination indicates that they are appropriate. People who have astigmatism or need a different correction for each eye require prescription lenses. (Locked) More »

How old is your heart?

An online “heart age” calculator can help people understand their risk of heart attack and stroke. The estimate is based on a person’s blood pressure reading, smoking history, body mass index, and whether they have diabetes. About 75% of heart attacks are due to risk factors that increase heart age. In the United States, 50% of men and 40% of women have a heart age that’s five or more years greater than their actual age. (Locked) More »

Is it a health problem, or is it just aging?

It's important for people not to assume that physical changes in older years are simply occurring because of age. Some conditions, such as vision or hearing impairment, may indicate a more serious underlying health problem. (Locked) More »

Low back pain attacks: One pill may be enough

Adding muscle relaxers or narcotic pain relievers to the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) naproxen (Aleve) did not improve pain or function for people who went to emergency rooms seeking help for severe low back pain. More »

Vitamins and vision loss

Dietary supplements promise to protect vision, but this only works for people who already have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in older people. For people with family history of AMD, eating a heart-healthy diet may help support vision and definitely delivers general health benefits. (Locked) More »

Your stroke prevention action plan

To prevent stroke, start by keeping your blood pressure under control. Among the various risk factors for stroke, lowering blood pressure, if it is high, can have the greatest impact. Although blood pressure is critical, other steps are important too, such as exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight by eating a varied, plant-based diet. (Locked) More »