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What is the Difference Between Healthspan and Lifespan? And Why is Good Lung Health Important for Each?

Lifespan is a term familiar to many, as it indicates the total number of years a person lives. The average lifespan was 76.60 years for Americans in 2021, 72.81 years for the world. A term perhaps less familiar is healthspan, or the total number of years a person remains healthy, active, and breathing well – that is to say, free from disease. The average healthspan is an estimated ten years less than lifespan, at about 63 years, implying years of progressive degeneration before the end of your lifespan.


Lifespan has increased by twenty-six years since 1950, but healthspan has not followed, but rather stagnated, as people are living longer lives but dealing with more chronic disease, often involving a degenerating condition. Your lifespan may be long – but your healthspan may be shorter. This decreases the quality of life. Helping to reduce exacerbation of chronic disease will improve your longevity.


Many lung-related issues, such as COPD and lung cancer, are leading chronic diseases in the world, and thus some of the major extinguishers of healthspan. In the United States, the most common cancers are lung, breast, and prostate. There are over 200,000 new cases of lung cancer per year, according to the National Cancer Institute. In terms of extinguishing lifespan, there is no cancer more deadly than lung, which kills over 100,000 each year in America. In terms of declining healthspan, there is no chronic disease more debilitating than COPD.


COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was cited in 2017 by the Washington University in St. Louis Institute for Public Health as the third leading cause of death in America behind heart disease and lung cancer, with a median age of first occurrence at 45 years old, nine years younger than any of the other top-ten leading causes of death (type 2 diabetes has a median age of first occurence of 54 years). This makes COPD an extreme terminator of lifespan, but also healthspan, moreso than any other top-ten lethal disease.


Lung health is one of the most critical facets of one’s well-being to maintain in order to enjoy both a long lifespan and healthspan!!


If you wish to learn more or discuss your concerns with an expert – or you simply want to “breathe better” again – call “The Lung Docs” at 423-710-3864 for an appointment. It’s one number, one call, that’s all!