Americans are living longer. A United Nations report shows that there has been a 5% rise in those aged 65 and older in the past five years and that this percentage increase will continue through the year 2020. The trend is to eat better, exercise more regularly, and remain active in order to lead a healthy life. At the same time, medical research is making great strides forward, there is a greater focus on national healthcare, and most individuals operate with an increased reliance on technology.
Now people are using the web for most daily business including looking for healthy recipes and there is a proliferation of APPs to help us track physical activity and calories. Physicians use the new technology to design treatment procedures that were far too risky to perform just a few years ago. All of these factors contribute to longevity, but we are not invincible yet.
There are still too many diseases which threaten our existence and the search for cures is ongoing as new problems arise. Two of society’s main health risks are Coronary Artery Disease (Heart Disease) and Cancer. These are the leading causes of death in the United States. The good news is that researches are continually learning about these diseases and developing more effective ways to treat them. For example, many cancers have been typically treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
But these techniques cannot be used with all cancers and have numerous negative side effects. As alternatives, the medical industry is now turning to targeted therapies like precision medications, immunotherapies, or minimally invasive surgical procedures. The new medications are designed to seek out and destroy only the cancer cells without weakening other healthy cells. The immunotherapies strengthen and re-energize the body’s own immune system so that it can kill the cancer cells. Finally, procedures like nanoknife cancer surgery allow surgeons to attack cancer cells that were at one time inoperable. The nanoknife sends electrical impulses through the cells to totally break them down while doing no damage to nearby organs or healthy cells.
Similarly, with heart disease, there are a handful of new approaches that are safer and just as effective as the older more invasive treatments. In 2011, the first transcatheter aortic valve (TAVR) was used as a replacement for a diseased valve. This device was initially approved by the FDA for patients who were not healthy enough for traditional open-heart surgery but it is now a part of the medical mainstream. A new drug called Paradigm-HF is now used to treat congestive heart failure while the PSCK9 inhibitor is being used in place of statins to drastically reduce high cholesterol.
The message is that even though there are more threats to overall health, we seem to be navigating these waters in a much more effective way than our ancestors. We have many more resources at our disposal and much more support from the medical community. If scientists continue to move in these creative ways, we may witness cures for these diseases rather than just alternative treatments.