A Chart of Changing Mortality Rates and Life Expectancy

This chart from the Scientific American clearly illustrates the progress in tackling heart disease over the past few decades, a factor that is driving a steady rise in life expectancy at older ages. Mortality rates for this range of conditions are falling quite dramatically: "A baby born in the U.S. this year is likely to live to blow out 78 birthday candles - a far longer average life span than someone born even in the 1960s. Heart disease is still the biggest killer but it, along with fatal infectious diseases and infant mortality have all fallen to much lower levels in the past half century. Researchers are now hard at work tackling the growing afflictions, such as nervous system diseases and Alzheimer's, which are far more likely to attack the ever more senescent population. ... Researchers are exploring two main approaches to extending healthy human life span. One camp believes we should focus on curing disease and replacing damaged body parts via stem cell therapies. Another camp believes we must slow the aging process on the cellular and molecular levels." If you include the SENS approach to repair of the causes of aging under "curing disease and replacing damaged body parts", then this describes the most important issue of our time in the life sciences: will the research community take an effective path or not in the treatment of aging? This will determine how long we all live.

Link: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=longevity-why-we-die-global-life-expectancy

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