It's almost a cliche. People are living longer. So what.
If you run a healthcare institution, sell health insurance to seniors or provide direct patient-care services to the elderly, it's an important trend. Perhaps the most important.
It effectively dictates what healthcare services are needed for a growing elderly population.
According to the latest government figures, the average life expectancy of people in the U.S. was 76.1 years in 1996. (It's 79.1 years for women and 73.1 years for men.)
That's nearly 10 years longer than the average life expectancy at the end of World War II.
This first chapter contains information that highlights some important trends in the nation's health: the type of information that healthcare providers will need to study in order to tailor their services to patients.
For example, what are the leading causes of death? Government figures show that, by far, heart disease and cancer kill more people each year than all other causes combined. That helps explain the ongoing boom in cardiac and oncology services across the country.
Other vital health statistics in this chapter:
* Minnesota has been judged the healthiest state in the union, while Mississippi is the least healthy. What other states made the top 10 in each category?
* Far more cardiac procedures are performed in Southern states than in other regions of the country. Is it the food?
* There will be more than one million new cases of cancer diagnosed this year. The state with the highest number of new cases is predicted to be California. What about your state?
* Hospitals, physicians and other practitioners have been working hard to lower the nation's Caesarean-section rate. But they've been hard pressed to get the national average below 20% of all births.
* Through June of last year, two states-California and New York-have reported more than one-third of the nation's AIDS cases.