U.S. life expectancy hits high - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

U.S. life expectancy hits high

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December 9, 2005

Albany--  Good news, Americans are living longer. Bad news, they better shape up and live right or that may change. Americans are now living an average of 77 and half years, but doctors warn life expectancy may go down in the future if people don't change their lifestyles.

The US life expectancy has risen to an all time high. Down are deaths from heart disease, cancer, and stroke but some other medical problems are plaguing the younger generations.

Margarat Voytek has found a big passion in crocheting.

"I love it. I enjoy it," says Voytek. It's a passion she's enjoyed for a very long time. "Ohh, I think all my life," says Voytek. Her life is one that spans over eight decades. "I'll be 89 in July," says Voytek. At 89, she's already way over the U-S life expectancy of 77.6 years old. "I think it's great. I feel good. Thank the good Lord," says Voytek.

She treats life like each loop of a single crochet. "Take one day at a time," says Voytek. She's an example of what Dr. Jose Tongol calls good health news. "People are living longer and the incidents of heart disease, strokes and cancer are decreasing and the dying of the disease are lesser," says Tongol.

People are living longer and fewer people are dying from the nation's leading killers but Dr. Tongol says that may change. "I think in the next ten years, these deaths will either stabilize or get even worse because of what we're doing to the environment," says Tongol.

Things like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity are affecting younger generations but some basic changes can get that in check. "Adequate diet, exercise, taking care of yourself, following your doctor's recommendations and getting your regular check-up by the doctors," says Tongol.

Margaret has her own daily regimen. "You get up in the morning you say 'Thank you Lord for a good night and another day'," says Vortek. She has faith that it will keep her seeing many more. "I hope so. I hope so. I want to see our great-grandson grow up," says Vortek. She'll be crocheting just as long.

She says, "You just keep going straight down until you come to the end."

Doctor Tongol also says that more advances in medicine are also a reason for longer lives. The life expectancy is up from 75.4 years old back in 1990. Those nearing the elderly age with health problems could also affect taxpayers when it comes to Medicare and Social Security. According to health statistics, half of Americans between 55 and 64 have high blood pressure and nearly half out of five are obese.

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