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

Active older men live longer

A study found that men who were active at any intensity for at least 30 minutes a day, six days per week, were 40% less likely to die from any cause. More »

Moderate drinking may harm older people's hearts

Among older people, moderate drinking—one drink a day for women, two for men—may cause worrisome changes in the heart’s structure and function. Women appear to be especially susceptible to alcohol’s toxic effects. (Locked) More »

Stroke risk when you have atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (afib) is among the most common heart rhythm irregularities. During a bout of afib, blood can stagnate and form clots, which can travel to the brain. More than one in six ischemic strokes can be traced to atrial fibrillation. Because effectively detecting and treating afib could avert many strokes, doctors have devised an improved scoring system to identify people with afib who are at high stroke risk. In addition, newer anticoagulant drugs offer safer and more convenient stroke protection for more people. (Locked) More »

Nutrition and Aging

Numerous products from lotions and creams to dietary supplements are promoted as ways to prevent or slow down the aging process. Yet there is no hard scientific evidence that any of these items are effective. Gerontologists (experts in aging) advocate instead that people focus on staying healthy and well so they can enjoy their favorite activities into middle age and beyond. Eating a balanced diet, which supplies all the necessary nutrients for health, is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Here are the key factors that influence your nutritional health as you age. As we get older, our resting metabolic rate declines. This can lead to unwanted weight gain, which can increase your risk for certain chronic diseases. This decrease in metabolic rate is related to the loss of lean body mass as we age. To help lessen this effect: (Locked) More »

Why I'm not prescribing statins for all my patients

The 2013 ACC/AHA guideline defines everyone over 75 as a candidate for statin therapy. Because the risks and benefits of statin use are largely unknown for people this age, it’s important to review them carefully with your doctor. More »