Sunday, August 12, 2007

The US Life Expectantcy is 41st in the World. Now, what to do immediately.

The citizens of the United States are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries. The United States dropped 31 places in the last ten years from 11th to 42nd place in life-expectancy.

Continuing a depressing long-term trend, the United States has been sliding in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve rates infant mortality, health care, nutrition and lifestyles.

The United States ranks below Japan, most of Europe, and such countries as Jordan and the Cayman Islands.

The US life expectancy is now 77.9 which trails leader Andorra by 5 ½ years. While the lack of universal health insurance is certainly part of the equation it fails to explain our dismal progress.

Other contributing factors include:

Two-thirds of the US adult population is overweight and one-third obese.

African-Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years and African-American males have a life expectancy of 69.8 years. African-Americans tragically have a rate of infant mortality 13.7 for African-Americans, more than double the national average.

Infant mortality is extraordinary high in comparison to other industrialized countries. 40 countries including Cuba and Taiwan have lower infant mortality rates than the US.

A health care system geared toward responding to illness instead of preventing it.

The Healing Project hopes that the US Federal and US State governments will offer all Americans the opportunity to obtain reasonably priced health insurance. However, the provision of insurance in and of itself will not significantly increase the health of the US population.

The Healing Project advocates:

People enhance their lifestyle and nutrition. Eating better, losing weight, controlling cholesterol and exercise have profound positive effects on medical outcomes;

People stop smoking. It is not only positive for one’s health but also positive for the pocket book;

People moderate alcohol consumption and eliminate the use of illicit substances. While moderate alcohol consumption has demonstrated positive health outcomes, the abuse of alcohol and the consumption of illicit substances have demonstrated negative effects on long-term physical and mental health;

People should take advantage of all opportunities to screen for cancers. Early detection is the key to a positive outcome. The Healing Project continues to update national and local disease screening programs. Most programs are free or low-cost, so take advantage of them;

People should comply with taking their medications as directed by their Doctors. If one cannot afford medications, please see the left-hand column for low-cost and free medication programs;

People who are diabetic or pre-diabetic must carefully adjust their lifestyles to account for the disease they afflicted with. Type II diabetes is controllable but it requires discipline and conviction to take the necessary steps to deal with the disease; and

People should ensure that their children are fully vaccinated and that their children’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Further, during Flu season everyone eligible, especially those at-risk, should take a shot. Free and low-cost vaccinations options are available nationally so there is no excuse. Herd immunity protects us all.

None of these actions relies on government actions or a change in the fabric of the US health care system. Our US community must take its health care into its own hands and avail itself of measures within its span of control to improve its outcomes.

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