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US life expectancy climbs to a new high

Deaths from heart disease, cancer, and stroke, three leading killers in the U.S., all dropped in 2003. They were down 2 percent to 5 percent.//

Also, Americans' life expectancy increased again in 2003, up from 77.3 the year before. By comparison, it was 75.4 in 1990.

Life expectancy in the U.S. has increased almost without interruption since 1900, because of several factors, including advances in medicine and sanitation, and declines in unhealthy habits, such as smoking.

Those trends may increase life expectancy despite the rises in obesity and blood pressure.

Half of all Americans closing in on their Medicare years have high blood pressure, while two out of five are obese, the U.S. government’s annual summary of the nation's well-being says.

Still, the health of the nation as a whole continues to improve as life expectancy hit an all-time high and deaths from heart disease, stroke and cancer continue to decline.

These findings were published in Health, United States, 2005, which was released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The report, based on data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, features an in-depth look at the 55-to-64 demographics, the oldest of the Baby Boomers and the fastest-growing segment of the population.

With their population expected to swell from 29 million in 2004 to 40 million in 2014, their health may well be an indication for the rest of the nation, providing important clues for future health programs and policies for the elderly.

Risk factors like obesity and hypertension are going in the wrong direction and things are being squeezed. As many as 40 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds were obese, up from 31 percent in the 2003 report.

People within the 55-to-64 range also had more frequent and more severe health problems, including diabetes and heart disease, than younger people.


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