The age-old question of are men and women alike continue to challenge the sexes. In many ways we are alike, from brains to personality and leadership abilities. But peel back our layers and we don’t fit into a “one-size-fits-all” category for health, wellness, and life expectancy.
Although there have been tremendous advances over the last hundred years in science, diagnosis, and treatment with new approaches trying to help bridge the longevity gap, women continue to outpace men in life expectancy.
What history has shown us
In 1900, the average life expectancy for women was 48.3 for men and 46.3 for women with just a 2-year gap.
According to 2017 CDC statistics, the average American male will live to age 76.1, while the average American female will live to age 81.1 with a 5-year gap.
More than half of all women older than 65 are widows, and widows outnumber widowers by at least 3-1. At age 65, for every 100 American women, only 77 men.
This gap in life expectancy is not just among Americans, but other countries as well. Those countries reporting reliable health statistics report that women live longer than men.
Where do we differ?
- Heart Disease: Among men 65 and over, more than 39% have heart disease compared to about 27% of women in the same age group.
- Parkinson’s Disease: This neurological disease affects 50 percent more men than women.
- Autism, Kidney Stones, Pancreatitis: Males are also more at risk for these medical conditions.
- Depression: Women have higher rates of depression, but men have higher suicide rates.
- Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is more frequently found in men, especially at ages 35-54 but diabetic symptoms are the same in men and women.
- Stroke: Annually in the U.S. about 55,000 more women have strokes than men.
- Multiple Sclerosis: MS affects many more women overall, but with the progressive form (PPMS) men get it in equal numbers to women.
- Stress: Women are more likely to say they are stressed than men. Both sexes may suffer from anger, crankiness, and muscle tension, but in women stress causes headaches, upset stomach. Men are less likely to feel the physical symptoms during times of stress.
- UTIs: Women tend to get them more often, but men’s UTIs are more complicated.
- Osteoporosis: Women are more likely to get osteoporosis, but it is often overlooked in men.
Are there steps to improve life expectancy?
Talk with your doctor first to discuss ways to assist you in reaching your health goals and improve longevity. Harvard Health offers some simple steps to improve life expectancy that you can start today.
- Don’t smoke.
- Enjoy physical and mental activities every day.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits
- Take a daily multivitamin, and be sure to get enough calcium and Vitamin D.
- Maintain a healthy weight and body shape.
- Challenge your mind. Keep learning, try new activities.
- Build a strong social network.
- Follow preventative care and screening guidelines.
- Floss, brush, and see a dentist regularly
- Ask your doctor if medication can help control the potential long-term side effects of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, or high cholesterol.
Make 2020 a defining year for renewed health and wellness!
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis or a substitute for health care by your physician.