Tags: life | expectancy | chronic | conditions

4 in 5 Americans Have Multiple Life-Shortening Health Problems: Study

By    |   Wednesday, 23 July 2014 02:05 PM

Life expectancy in the U.S. is rising more slowly than other parts of the world, and the results of new research out of Johns Hopkins may suggest why: Nearly four in five older Americans are living are with multiple life-shortening chronic medical conditions.

What’s more, the study indicates the more ailments you have after retirement age, the shorter your life expectancy.
 
The analysis, published in the journal Medical Care, is one of the first to examine the burden of multiple chronic conditions on life expectancy among the elderly, and may explain why increases in life expectancy among older Americans are slowing.
 
"Living with multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease, and heart failure is now the norm and not the exception in the United States," noted Eva H. DuGoff, lead author of the report. "The medical advances that have allowed sick people to live longer may not be able to keep up with the growing burden of chronic disease. It is becoming very clear that preventing the development of additional chronic conditions in the elderly could be the only way to continue to improve life expectancy."
 
For their analysis, researchers examined the medical charts of 1.4 million Medicare recipients, 67 and older, and tracked 21 defined chronic conditions.
 
The results showed that, on average, a 75-year-old American woman with no chronic conditions will live 17.3 additional years to more than 92 years old). But a 75-year-old woman with five chronic conditions will only live, on average, to the age of 87, and a 75-year-old woman with 10 or more chronic conditions will only live to the age of 80.
 
They also found that, an individual diagnosed with heart disease at age 67 is estimated to live an additional 21.2 years on average, while someone diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease is only expected to live 12 additional years.
 
On average, life expectancy is reduced by 1.8 years with everyl chronic condition, the researchers found.
 
"We tend to think about diseases in isolation. You have diabetes or you have heart failure. But many people have both, and then some," says researcher Gerard F. Anderson, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
 
"The balancing act needed to care for all of those conditions is complicated, more organ systems become involved as do more physicians prescribing more medications. Our system is not set up to care for people with so many different illnesses. Each one adds up and makes the burden of disease greater than the sum of its parts."
 
Life expectancy in the U.S. is rising more slowly than in other parts of the developed world and many blame the obesity epidemic and related health conditions for the nation’s worsening public health.
 
The researchers say their findings could be useful to Social Security and Medicare planners as they make population and cost predictions for the future.

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Life expectancy in the U.S. is rising more slowly than other parts of the world, and new research out of Johns Hopkins suggests that's because nearly four in five older Americans are living are with multiple life-shortening chronic medical conditions.
life, expectancy, chronic, conditions
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2014-05-23
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 02:05 PM
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