ATLANTA – U.S. life expectancy has hit another all-time high – 77.6 years – and deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke continue to drop, the government reported Thursday.
Still, the march of medical progress has taken a worrisome turn: 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.
The report presents the latest data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and dozens of other health agencies and organizations.
Among the new data: Deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke, the nation’s three leading killers, all dropped in 2003. They were down between 2 percent and 5 percent.
Also, Americans’ life expectancy increased again in 2003. According to the government’s calculations, a child born in 2003 can expect to live 77.6 years on average, up from 77.3 the year before. In 1990, life expectancy was 75.4.
For men, life expectancy in 2003 was 74.8, for women 80.1.
Life expectancy in the U.S. has been rising almost without interruption since 1900, thanks to several factors, including extraordinary advances in medicine and sanitation.