Thursday, May 14, 2015

Boomers Living Longer, Not Healthier

America's aging baby boomers are not exactly the picture of health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) 38th annual report on the nation's health, which this year includes a special section focusing on the health of Americans aged 55 to 64 years, the heart of the "baby boom" generation.

Nearly 1 in 5 baby boomers has diabetes, 40% are obese, more than half take prescription medication for hypertension, and most will be covered by Medicare within the next 10 years, which poses challenges to the country's healthcare system, the report notes.

However, the report also finds that the overall death rate in this age group has declined during the past decade.

"Health, United States, 2014" includes 123 tables on key health measures from a number of sources within the federal government and in the private sector. Topics covered include birth rates and reproductive health, life expectancy and leading causes of death, health risk behaviors, healthcare use and insurance coverage, and health expenditures.

Between 2003 and 2013, life expectancy at birth, a measure often used to gauge the overall health of a population, increased 1.2 years for white women, 1.6 years for white men, 2.7 years for black women, and 3.4 years for black men, the report says.

For the period 1980 and 2013, life expectancy rose from 70.0 to 76.4 years for men and from 77.4 to 81.2 years for women. Racial disparities in life expectancy at birth persisted for both sexes in 2013 but continue to narrow. By 2013, life expectancy at birth was 78.1 years for black non-Hispanic women, 81.2 years for white non-Hispanic women, and 83.8 years for Hispanic women. The corresponding figures for men were 71.8, 76.5, and 79.1 years.

Americans with chronic diseases are living longer, with the exception of patients with Alzheimer's disease. Between 2003 and 2013, the overall all-cause age-adjusted death rate fell 15% among men and 13% among women.

During this 10-year period, age-adjusted death rates in men declined 34% for stroke, 27% for heart disease, 17% for cancer, and 11% for chronic lower respiratory diseases, but increased 6% for Alzheimer's disease and held steady for unintentional injuries. Among women, the age-adjusted death rates declined 34% for stroke, 31% for heart disease, and 14% for cancer, but increased 8% for Alzheimer's disease and 10% for unintentional injuries.

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