Walking Canes and Increased Life Expectancy
The average lifespan in developed countries had more than doubled in the 20th century due to a number of key factors. What lies ahead in all likelihood will dramatically change this. There are several trends right now that could help our kids and grandkids live significantly longer.
Of course, living a longer life means spending a greater part of your life with gray hair, hard of hearing and needing the use of a walking cane. It just comes with the territory. Here are a few reasons why we can expect dramatically enhanced longevity in the future.
Propagation of Drugs and Medical Procedures
There are any number of drugs and medical procedures that have been around for quite some time, but only recently have been utilized to their full extent by the population.
Take, for example, cholesterol lowering medications. These drugs were discovered decades ago, but did not reach the market until the 1980s. But even as late as 1998, worldwide sales of cholesterol medications were under 5 billion annually. It would take until the mid 2000s before annual sales would peak at over 20 billion.
Now, doctors urge anyone with high cholesterol to start taking Crestor, Lipitor or Zocor, even if you are in your 20s.
Another example is the use of stents to free clogged arteries. This was a procedure virtually unheard of a couple of decades ago, now it is common practice and saves countless lives.
In the 1990s, people mocked the idea that their computer, television, calculator, video camera and radio could all be held in a device that fits in the palm of your hand. Now, smartphones are as common as cholesterol medications.
It has come to that point where you don't even need to leave your home to see a doctor or specialist. In fact, you can have a video conference with a specialist across the country should the need arise. There is no reason to ignore that chest pain if live help can be accessed with your iPhone.
Obesity and smoking are two classic examples of preventable contributing factors to disease and death. And despite the fact fast food restaurants are growing, we are slowly reverting to a healthier lifestyle.
Tobacco use has been slowly decreasing the past 40 years and most fast food outlets are offering low-calorie items on their menus. Should this trend continue, you will see life expectancy increase.
Better Screening and Diagnostics
Thousands of devices have been developed to monitor nearly every aspect of health. Even a smartphone can be used to diagnose disease by analyzing pictures of a birthmark to recognize melanoma patterns.
The Fitbit craze has people monitoring their diet, exercise and sleep patterns. They even set off an alarm when you have been seated too long. With the amount of data gathered by these devices, it could be possible to predict disease based on activity and other patterns.
And it is only a matter of time before more advanced sensors perform biochemical analysis of your sweat, blood and urine and help diagnose problems long before you suffer any of the symptoms.