Skip navigation
C. What's Behind the Upward Trend in Maximum Human Life Span?

Narrator: This is Science Today. Since 1970, there's been a slow upward trend in the maximum, human life span. Demographer John Wilmoth of the University of California, Berkeley, recently published these findings and says this trend accelerated mostly due to medical improvements in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Wilmoth: And there are various interventions that have improved the chances of survival once somebody suffers a heart attack or a stroke or rehabilitation therapies and drug therapies that reduce the risk of a subsequent attack and help people to recover. But then there are also medical means of treating some of the risk factors of heart disease and stroke, such as hypertension and high cholesterol and these play a role as well.

Narrator: But whether the upward trend in life span continues depends on our ability to maintain the current pace of progress in improving survivorship at older ages.

Wilmoth: In other words, we need to still stay focused on what's going on at younger ages because that's where development occurs, that's where the body is gaining what it's going to have later in life.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.