The National Center for Health Statistics released their annual report on mortality last week, and not so surprisingly, they found that the life expectancy in 2012 for older adults has continued to increase. Currently, a 65 year old will live on an average an additional 19.3 years: about 18 years for men and almost 21 years for women. Although this represents only a small increase from the 2011 findings, life expectancy has been increasing over the past decade, and since 1960, life expectancy has increased five years on average. Furthermore, life expectancy no longer looks so different between people of different races or ethnicities.
According to the report, reasons for increased life expectancy include declines in deaths from cancer, heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory disease, diabetes, flu and pneumonia. Deaths from Alzheimer s disease have also decreased. In 1990, Alzheimer s was not even ranked in the top 15 causes of death in the United States. It is now number six. Suicide deaths among older people have increased but remain lower than at their peak in 2011.
Researchers believe that life expectancy will continue to increase in the coming years as smoking rates are lower in people of middle-age now and obesity rates have stabilized.
When asked if there is an upper limit as to how long we can expect to live, Robert Anderson, chief of mortality statistics, says I don t see any reason it couldn t continue to go up.
ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross says, I would also point out that in a study looking at life expectancy, mention should be made of the importance of keeping high blood pressure under control, as this is a contributing factor to the toll of the number one killer in America: cardiovascular disease. And there is clearly work to be done in this area, as high blood pressure is inadequately treated, especially in young people.