While it is unlikely that everyone will agree on a single definition, a common definition is that health expectancy is the period of life spent in good health, free from the chronic diseases and disabilities of aging. Senolytics have the potential to eliminate senescent cells and, in model organisms, can extend lifespan, improve health and positively affect more than 20 diseases with limited side effects. According to the World Health Organization, poor mental health can also be as harmful to health as smoking or lack of exercise. The data shows that, despite a trajectory of increasing life expectancy, life expectancy has not shown a similar rate of improvement, as patients experience prolonged periods of ill health and often manage multiple age-related conditions.
So why is Healthspan important? On the one hand, increasing health expectancy can help close life expectancy gaps across the country, which are quite drastic. Many researchers are now placing more emphasis on increasing health expectancy in an effort to maximize quality of life in later years. To approximate health expectancy, the World Health Organization (WHO) uses a term called HALE, or healthy life expectancy, to determine the average age of onset of serious illness. He highlighted the need to support patients with multiple long-term conditions and to address disparities in health expectancy.
The better access a person has to quality health care, healthy food, gyms and outdoor spaces, the greater their health expectancy. The concept of health expectancy is less simple than that of life expectancy, but the principle of measuring life expectancy is concrete and focuses on increasing people's quality of life rather than simply increasing the length of life. Using average starting ages plus frequency, researchers have determined that the average American health expectancy is around 60. My fascination with nutrition and health began during my residency, when I found myself living in Loma Linda, California, one of the blue zones in the world.
While life expectancy denotes the time someone or something lives, life expectancy has a more nuanced definition.