CDC: Older Baby Boomers Plagued by High Blood Pressure and Obesity

Half of Americans aged 55-64 have high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, according to a new annual report on health in the United States issued today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC).

The report concludes that 40 precent of people in that age bracket are obese.

The report features an in-depth look at the 55-64 age group, which includes the oldest of the baby boomers.  In 2011, the oldest of the boomers will be eligible for Medicare, and by 2014, the ranks of Americans ages 55-64 will swell to 40 million, up from 29 million in 2004.

"Controlling high blood pressure and obesity is crucial for health, and particularly for baby boomers as they grow older," said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.  "It's time to act against both conditions so more Americans can live longer, healthier lives."

CDC Director Julie Gerberding urged people 55 to 64 to take stock now of their health, including such vital measures as weight, cholesterol level, blood pressure, risk of heart attack and any signs of diabetes.

"The late 50s and early 60s are a crucial time of life to focus on disease prevention," Gerberding said. "It's never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle to enjoy a longer, healthier life."

Other highlights:

  • More than a quarter of adults suffered lower back pain in the past three months. 
  • Severe headaches or migraines (more commonly a problem for women) affected 15 percent of adults in the past three months.
  • Life expectancy at birth in 2002 reached 75 for males and 80 for females.  At age 65, life expectancy was almost 82 for men and 85 for women.  

Two-thirds of high school students exercised regularly but only one-third of adults were physically active in their leisure time.

The United States spent $1.7 trillion, or 15 percent of the gross domestic product, on health care in 2003, the new report states.  That's $5,671 for every man, woman and child.