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 Monday, November 04, 2002

Biomedical Breakthroughs:  An Increasing Focus on Health Expectancy

Our global population is aging at an unprecedented rate. World life expectancy has more than doubled over the past two centuries from roughly 25 years to almost 70 years.   As lives get longer, the quality of one's life becomes an increasingly important issue. 

Health expectancy will soon come to be seen as important as a measure as life expectancy.  Today, in most industrialized nations about 80% of people who are 65 and older can expect to live without needing significant help (personal care) with such physical activities as eating and toileting, or mental activities such as shopping and using transportation.  However, recent studies are beginning to show (data was not collected on this until recently), that the number of people requiring help age 80 and older is much higher.  Moreover, increasing health expectancy is within the power of each person.

Projections for the US suggest that there will be 54 million people aged 85 and over in 2040 up from 4.2 million today, with only moderate amount of overall population growth.  Whereas today the oldest old represent only 2% or our population, by 2040 they could well represent almost 20%.  It is for this reason that an increasing focus will be placed on creating treatments to ensure that people not only live longer, but also live those years healthier.

4:25:46 PM    comment []