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Older Americans Have Higher Disease Risk Than English

However, Americans at same or lower risk of mortality compared to English counterparts

THURSDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Older Americans seem to be at a higher risk for disease than their English counterparts; however, mortality rates are similar or lower among Americans, according to a study published in a supplement to the journal Demography.

James Banks, of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues evaluated the prevalence of illness among individuals aged 55 to 64 and 70 to 80 years residing in the United States and the United Kingdom. The researchers also assessed the onset of new illnesses and trends in mortality rates in these age groups between 2002 and 2006, as well as the relationship between the financial resources of individuals in both countries and the risk of mortality.

The investigators found that disease incidence and prevalence were higher among Americans aged 55 to 64 and 70 to 80 than among the English in these groups. However, age-specific mortality rates were similar in the two countries, with the risk of morality higher among the English over 65 years of age. Diabetes rates were higher in the United States compared to the United Kingdom (17.2 versus 10.4 percent). Cancer prevalence was also higher in the United States for individuals between 70 and 80 years of age (17.9 compared to 7.8 percent). The investigators found similar health gradients in income and wealth in both countries among individuals aged 55 to 64 years. However, no income gradient was identified in individuals between 70 and 80 years of age in the United Kingdom.

"If you get sick at older ages, you will die sooner in England than in the United States," study co-author, James P. Smith, of the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif., said in a statement. "It appears that, at least in terms of survival at older ages with chronic disease, the medical system in the United States may be better than the system in England."


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