The number of U.S. centenarians is booming, rising from 50,281 in 2010 to 72,197 in 2012. "Wow," says at least one demographer.
Not only are there more people living to be more than 100 years old, but the death rate of centenarians has decreased significantly since 2008, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report
The report's author, Dr. Jiaquan Xu, told Reuters
he expects to see the number of 100-year-olds continue to increase, and that some projections think that within 35 years, there could be 387,000 centenarians living in the United States.
"People are more aware of their health, of the importance of staying active and eating healthy food," said Xu, adding that better medical care and healthier lifestyle choices contribute to longer lifespans.
The study also looked at cause of death for centenarians and found that between 2000 and 2014, there was a 119 percent increase in deaths related to Alzheimer's disease, 88 percent increase for hypertension, 34 percent increase for chronic lower respiratory diseases and a 33 percent increase in unintentional injuries.
However, during that same time period, death rates caused by influenza and pneumonia decreased 48 percent, and those from stroke and heart disease decreased 31 percent and 24 percent.
Heart disease, though, is still the number one killer of those more than 100 years old, with Alzheimer's disease coming in second.
"People who are physically fit enough to survive over 100 years ultimately succumb to diseases afflicting the mind and cognitive dysfunction," Holly Prigerson, a professor in geriatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, told Scientific American
. She was not involved in the CDC report. "In other words, it appears that their minds give out before their bodies do."
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