State-specific healthy life expectancy in years at age 65 years, both sexes
United States, 20072009 - was
generally less in the South.
Senior Citizen Longevity & Statistics
Healthy life expectancy lowest for seniors in South,
those that are black or male
Highest HLE during 2007-2009 for senior citizens at age 65 living in
Hawaii; lowest in Mississippi
Senior women have more healthy
years ahead than men.
July 25, 2013 - People living in the South,
regardless of race, and blacks throughout the United States, have lower
healthy life expectancy at age 65, according to a report in the
Mortality Weekly Report released this month by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. And, not surprisingly, senior women
have higher HLE than do senior men.
Healthy life expectancy (HLE) is a population
health measure that combines mortality data with morbidity or health
status data to estimate expected years of life in good health for
persons at a given age. HLE accounts for quantity and quality of life
and can be used to describe and monitor the health status of
These calculations indicate that, during 20072009,
females had a greater HLE than males at age 65 years in every state and
DC. HLE was greater for whites than for blacks in all states from which
sufficient data were available and DC, except in Nevada and New Mexico.
CDC used 2007-2009 data from the National Vital
Statistics Systems, U.S. Census Bureau, and Behavioral Risk Factor
Surveillance System to calculate HLEs by sex and race for each of the 50
states and Washington, D.C., for all people aged 65 years.
Where you live in the United States shouldn't
determine how long and how healthy you live - but it does, far more than
it should, said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.
Not only do people in certain states and
African-Americans live shorter lives, they also live a greater
proportion of their last years in poor health. It will be important
moving forward to support prevention programs that make it easier for
people to be healthy no matter where they live."
For all adults at 65, the highest HLE was observed
in Hawaii (16.2 years) and the lowest was in Mississippi (10.8 years).
By race, HLE estimates for whites were lowest among Southern states. For
blacks, HLE was comparatively low throughout the United States, except
in Nevada and New Mexico. HLE was greater for females than for males in
all states, with the difference ranging from 0.7 years in Louisiana to
3.1 years in North Dakota and South Dakota.
● HLE was greater for whites than for blacks in
all states and Washington, D.C., that had sufficient data, except Nevada
and New Mexico.
● HLE for males at age 65 years varied between a
low of 10.1 years in Mississippi and a high of 15.0 years in Hawaii.
● HLE for females at age 65 years varied between
a low of 11.4 years in Mississippi and a high of 17.3 years in Hawaii.
HLE estimates can predict future health service
needs, evaluate health programs, and identify trends and inequalities.
Furthermore, examining HLE as a percent of life expectancy can reveal
populations that might be enduring illness or disability for years.
Public health officials, health care providers, and policymakers can use
HLE to monitor and understand the health status of a population.
State-specific healthy life expectancy in years at age 65 years, by race
United States, 20072009
Data for 11 states were not reported because the total number of
deaths from 2007 to 2009 for the black population in those states was
<700: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North
Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming.
figure above shows state-specific healthy life expectancy (HLE) in years
at age 65 years, by race, in the United States during 2007-2009. By
race, HLE estimates for whites were lowest among southern states. For
blacks, HLE estimates were comparatively low throughout the United
States, except for a few southwestern states. For whites aged 65 years,
HLE varied between a low of 11.0 years in West Virginia and a high of
18.8 years in DC.
State-specific healthy life expectancy in years at age 65
years, by sex United States, 20072009
For both sexes, estimated HLE generally was less in the
South than elsewhere in the United States (Figure 1). HLE
for males at age 65 years varied from a low of 10.1 years in
Mississippi to a high of 15.0 years in Hawaii (Table). HLE
for females at age 65 years varied from a low of 11.4 years
in Mississippi to a high of 17.3 years in Hawaii. HLE was
greater for females than for males in all states, with the
difference ranging from 0.7 years in Louisiana to 3.1 years
in North Dakota and South Dakota.
Editorial Note by Researchers
"HLE estimates in this report identified disparities
by sex, race, and state among persons aged 65 years. During 20072009,
females had a greater HLE than males at age 65 years in every state and
DC. HLE was greater for whites than for blacks in all states for which
sufficient data were available and DC, except for a difference of <1
year that was observed in Nevada and New Mexico. In general, at age 65
years, HLEs within individual states varied up to 3 years by sex and up
to 8 years by race. HLEs for all persons aged 65 years varied between
states by 6 years.
"Over the past century in the United States, a
general decline in death rates has resulted in a corresponding increase
in LE. Because differences in HLE by demographics might result from
variations in morbidity or mortality, examining HLE as a percentage of
LE reveals populations that might be enduring illness or disability for
"Although HLE measures do not identify the reasons
for poor health or shorter lives, they provide a snapshot of the health
status of a population. From this measure it is not possible to
determine why some states have higher HLE than others.
"Many factors influence a person's health status as
they age, including 1) safe and healthy living environments, 2) healthy
behaviors (e.g., exercise and not smoking), 3) getting the recommended
clinical preventive services (e.g., vaccines, cancer screenings, and
blood pressure checks), and 4) having access to good quality health care
when it is needed.
"The findings in this report are subject to at least
First, BRFSS includes a self-assessed health status
question, which might be influenced by age, sex, race/ethnicity,
culture, and several social and behavior factors, resulting in rankings
of health status that might be assessed inconsistently across
demographic groups. However, self-reported health status questions, as
used in BRFSS, have been shown to be a good predictor of future
disability, hospitalization, and mortality.
"Second, possible misclassification of demographic
information on the death certificate and misclassification because of
the bridging procedure used to categorize persons of multiple race in
the census data might have occurred.
"Third, the BRFSS median response rates in the low
50% raise the possibility of response bias.
"Fourth, BRFSS is a telephone interview-based survey
that did not include persons without access to a landline telephone in
its 20072009 surveys.
"Finally, state-specific HLE estimates might not be
precise for small groups (especially blacks) by age and sex because of
small BRFSS samples and low death counts in some states.
"HLE measures reflect current mortality rates and
health status for various populations and suggest the long-range
implications of the prevailing age-specific death and illness rates. HLE
is a relatively simple measure that can be readily used by public health
officials, health-care providers, and policy makers to understand the
health status of a population. The results presented in this study can
be used as a baseline for states to monitor the HLE of persons aged 65
years as they age, identify health disparities among subpopulations, and
target resources to improve population health."
Sukhjeet Ahuja, MD, National Association for Public
Health Statistics and Information Systems. Stephanie Zaza, MD, Rachel B.
Kaufmann, PhD, Carl Kinkade, MCRP, Eric Knudsen, Jose Aponte,
Epidemiology and Analysis Program Office; Brenda Le, MSPH, National
Center for Environmental Health; Robert N. Anderson, PhD, Joyce A.
Arbertha, National Center for Health Statistics; Sigrid A. Economou,
Public Health Surveillance and Informatics Program Office, CDC.
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