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Health of older women in developed countries continues to improve
Date:9/1/2013

Measures taken in developed countries to reduce noncommunicable diseases the leading causes of death globally have improved the life expectancy of women aged 50 years and older over the last 20 to 30 years. But, according to a study that will be published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization on 2 September, the gap in life expectancy between such women in rich and poor countries is growing.

The WHO study, one of a collection of articles in a special issue of the journal devoted to women's health beyond reproduction, found that the leading causes of death of women aged 50 years and older worldwide are cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) and cancers, but that in developing countries these deaths occur at earlier ages than in the rich world.

The study is one of the first to analyse the causes of death of women aged 50 years and older from a wide range of countries. Its findings suggest that prevention, detection and treatment of noncommunicable diseases are currently inadequate in many countries.

"Given the substantial reduction in maternal mortality and the increase in the number of older women over the last 10 years, health systems in low- and middle-income countries must adjust accordingly, otherwise this trend will continue to increase," said Dr John Beard, director of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Department of Ageing and Life Course and one of the authors of the study.

"Changing women's exposures at earlier stages of their lives, particularly in relation to sexual health, tobacco and harmful use of alcohol, is essential to reversing the epidemic of chronic diseases," Beard said.

There are known and cost-effective ways to address these common noncommunicable diseases, including prevention, early diagnosis and management of high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol and screening and treatment for cancers.

"The best way to address these conditions in low- and middle-income countries
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Contact: Fiona Fleck
fleckf@who.int
41-227-911-897
Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Source:Eurekalert

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