SOURCES: Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., preventive cardiologist and director of Women's Heart Health, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Ronald Tamler, M.D., medical director, Mount Sinai Clinical Diabetes Institute, Mount Sinai Health System, New York City; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, May 6, 2015
WEDNESDAY, May 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds mixed results for the health of America's aging "Baby Boom" generation, with nearly half of people ages 55 to 64 taking a prescription heart drug and about 1 in 5 dealing with diabetes.
However, the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also finds that the overall death rate in this age group has gone down over the past decade.
The report shows that the "prevalence of diabetes and obesity among Baby Boomers remains remarkably high and is a public health concern," said Dr. Ronald Tamler, who directs the Mount Sinai Clinical Diabetes Institute in New York City.
But he said the new findings also show that "interventions focusing on heart health are beginning to pay off."
The new data comes from an annual report from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, looking at 2014 statistics on the health of all Americans.
This year, the CDC zeroed in on adults ages 55 to 64, who form the core of the "Boomer" generation. On average, people in this age range can expect to live anywhere from another 19 to 27 years. But they also face a growing risk of developing chronic health problems, the agency said.
That looming epidemic of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic health woes doesn't bode well for the financial health of the U.S. health care system, the report noted, since most Boomers will be covered by the government-run Medicare program within the next 10 years.
Some key findings in the report:
The bottom-line forecast, according to Tamler, is an aging population increasingly plagued by chronic illness. That means doctors "have our work in primary prevention cut out for us," he said, "especially in the less affluent segment of the population."
Another doctor agreed.
"With a shift from treatment to prevention, where the key is lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise, we could essentially change these statistics," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
"This study should be used to empower a generation to see the importance in how they take care of themselves and how they choose to live," she said.
The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion explains how to protect your health as you grow older.