US life expectancy continues to rise


Washington: Life expectancy in the US has hit an all-time high of 77.6 years, according to the latest government statistics.

For men, life expectancy in 2003 was 74.8 years, for women 80.1 years. The report says deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke continue to drop. But the research also includes some warnings about potential health problems.

Half of Americans in the 55-to-64 age group, including the oldest of the baby boomers, have high blood pressure, and two in five are obese. That means Americans in the same age group born a decade earlier were in better shape. The health of this large group is of major concern to American taxpayers, because they are now becoming eligible for Medicare and Social Security.

The report is from data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and dozens of other health agencies and organizations. Among the new findings: Deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke, the nation’s three leading killers, dropped in 2003. They were down between 2 percent and 5 percent.

Life expectancy in the US has been rising almost without interruption since 1900, thanks to several factors, including advances in medicine and sanitation and declines in some unhealthy behavior like smoking.