From Our 2010 Archives
Life Expectancy Up, but So Is Poor Health
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CDC Report on State of Nation's Health Also Shows Use of Imaging Tests Are Increasing
Daniel J. DeNoon
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
Feb. 17, 2010 -- Life expectancy is up, but so is poor health, even though personal health care cost each American $6,219.
That's just a small taste of the 574 pages of data today served up in the CDC's 33rd annual "State of the Nation" report on U.S. health.
That depends on a number of factors, such as how old you are, where in the U.S. you live, and, not least, your family income.
The CDC data, compiled and analyzed over the course of the last year, offer snapshots of U.S. health in the years it was collected -- mostly 2006 and 2007.
What does it all mean? The CDC doesn't interpret the data. That's up to our doctors, our pundits, and ultimately to us.
Here are some of the more interesting facts gleaned from the CDC report:
Technology Changes U.S. Health
Medical technology has made a big change in U.S. health care. Advanced imaging tests such as PET scans and MRI now are ordered at 3% to 4% of doctor-office and outpatient-clinic visits. Use of advanced imaging tripled from 1996 to 2007.
Improved medical devices such as hip and knee replacements make those procedures more routine. By 2007, adults aged 45 and over were getting knee replacements 70% more often than in 1996.
Transplant technology also has improved. From 1997 to 2006, new kidney transplants increased 31% and new liver transplants increased 42%.
New drugs have also changed U.S. health care. From 2003 to 2006, use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs increased tenfold over the period from 1988 to 1994; use of diabetes drugs increased 50%.
Some things have been slower to change. The top six causes of death remain the same as in 2000: heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lung diseases, unintentional injuries, and diabetes. In the longer term, however, things are changing. Since 1950, deaths from heart disease, stroke, and unintentional injuries have declined dramatically, while diabetes and cancer deaths have not. Deaths from chronic lung disease have increased since 1980.
SOURCES: National Center for Health Statistics: "Health, United States, 2009, In
Brief," "Health, United States, 2009: With Special Feature on Medical
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