Monday, February 24, 2020

Living Longer than Expected Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 2750 words

Living Longer than Expected - Essay Example The main reason life expectancy has increased is the improvement in medicine in general, with particular emphasis on the development of brand-new drugs during the 20th Century, namely antibiotics. The influence of these remarkable drugs can be summed up in a single fact: more people are saved in a single year from antibiotics than the c.100,000,000 who were killed in wars during the whole of the Twentieth Century (Cooter, 2002). Ironically, the final push towards the development of antibiotics occurred because of the mortality rates from infections within soldiers during the worst of those wars, WWII (Cooter, 2002). Together with the development of antibiotics to treat infections, another whole class of drugs - vaccinations, were developed and perfected during the century. One of the worst killers of previous centuries had been tuberculosis, By the middle of the century it was virtually a fading memory in much of the developed world because of the invention and perfection of a simple, safe vaccine (Bloom, 2002. Together with other vaccinations a whole host of deadly diseases were virtually wiped out, ensuring far more children survived into the relatively healthy adult years. Improved sanitation and nutrition also helped to increase life expectancy in the first half of the century. In the last decades of the Twentieth Century the increased efficacy of medicine treating serious diseases from cancer to heart disease has enabled older people to live through conditions that would have previously killed them. Operations such as bypass surgery, transplantation and a whole array of new drugs have increased life-expectancy. While the current "obesity epidemic" (nih, 2006) may slow the increase in life expectancy, it is clear that babies being born today may well have a lifespan approach an average of ninety. This is an extraordinary situation: the doubling of life expectancy over a single century. Present Effects of Increased Longevity The present effects of increased vary from those that are fairly obvious, such as more old people, to those a little more intangible, such as changes in marriage patterns. The effects of increased lifespan on the health industry are profound. While advances in medicine are largely accountable for longevity, the healthcare industry also bears the brunt of the pressures that are created by the changing demographics of its patients. Old people tend to become sick more often, and the nature of their care is also different: Population aging can have an important impact on health expenditures (both public and private) as well as on the optimal design of health care systems. The technologies associated with diseases of the old tend to be more expensive than the technologies associated with diseases of the young. (James, 1999) Also, about 30 of healthcare costs now stem from treatment in the last six months of life (nih, 2006). These were people (often old) who would normally have died in earlier times. Ethical questions regarding

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