People around the world are living longer, but many are also living sicker lives for longer, according to a study of all major diseases and injuries in 188 countries.
General health has improved around the world, thanks to significant progress against infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria in the past decade and gains in fighting maternal and child illnesses.
But healthy life expectancy has not increased as much, so people are living more years with illness and disability, according to the analysis published in The Lancet journal.
“The world has made great progress in health, but now the challenge is to invest in finding more effective ways of preventing or treating the major causes of illness and disability,” said Theo Vos, a professor at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington who led the analysis.
The study’s main findings were that global life expectancy at birth for both sexes rose by 6.2 years — from 65.3 in 1990 to 71.5 in 2013.
Healthy life expectancy at birth rose by 5.4 years — from 56.9 in 1990 to 62.3 in 2013.
Healthy life expectancy takes into account both mortality and the impact of non-fatal conditions and chronic illnesses like heart and lung diseases, diabetes and serious injuries.
Those detract from quality of life and impose heavy cost and resources burdens.
For most of the 188 countries studied, changes in healthy life expectancy between 1990 and 2013 were “significant and positive”, the researchers said.
But in many — among them Belize, Botswana and Syria — healthy life expectancy in 2013 was not much higher than in 1990.
And in some, including South Africa, Paraguay and Belarus, healthy life expectancy dropped.
The study also found stark differences between countries with the highest and lowest healthy life expectancies.
Lesotho had the world’s lowest healthy life expectancy, at 42 years, while Japan had the highest, at 73.4 years.
Regular bedtime beneficial for heart and metabolic health among older adults
KATHMANDU — Sufficient sleep has been proven to help keep the body healthy and the mind sharp. But a new study on sleep patterns has suggested that a regular bedtime and wake time are just as important for heart and metabolic health among older adults too.
Researchers at Duke Health and the Duke Clinical Research Institute, in a study of 1,978 older adults, have found that people with irregular sleep patterns weighed more, had higher blood sugar, higher blood pressure, and a higher projected risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years than those who slept and woke at the same times every day.
The study was published Sept 21 in the journal Scientific Reports.
“From our study, we can’t conclude that sleep irregularity results in health risks, or whether health conditions affect sleep,” said study’s lead author Jessica Lunsford-Avery.
“Perhaps all of these things are impacting each other.”
African-Americans had the most irregular sleep patterns compared to participants who were white, Chinese-American or Hispanic, the data showed.
Still, the data suggest tracking sleep regularity could help identify people at risk of disease, and where health disparities may impact specific groups.
Irregular sleepers were also more likely to report depression and stress than regular sleepers, both of which are tied to heart health.Follow @gorkhapost