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What Are The Major Causes Of Premature Death?

Sorry for the morbid discussion today, but this entry was prompted by a patient I saw this week that was inconsolable as she was telling me that her brother passed away suddenly at age 53 from a heart attack.  She told me that no one in the family had a clue that there was anything wrong prior to his death.  Her brother was active, did not smoke and exercised regularly.

Death at any age is very a sad event, but especially for those that succumb at an age deemed as “before their time”.  “Premature Death” is defined as someone dying at an age less than “usual” age of death for that population.  As an example, the average age of death in the U.S. is 75 years.  Hence, anyone dying before the age of 75 would be deemed as a “premature death”.

Clearly, the leading causes of premature death will vary depending on the age.  As an example, between the ages of 25-34, the leading causes of death are accidents and suicides.  For teens and young adults, automobile accidents and drug overdoses are the most leading causes.  However, when you look at people above 60 and below 75, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of premature death.  Cancers also impact all age groups but once again, older individuals will be more susceptible to this premature death cause.

When people pass away that are 85 years and older, often family members and friends are not as devastated as they would be if they lost their loved one at a much earlier age.  The reasons:  The much older person has had more years to enjoy good times and frequently, their current state at that age may not be a good one.  The person may not have all of their mental faculties, be experiencing lots of pain, other suffering etc.  However, for the person that dies below 75 years of age, we feel that the person should have had more years to enjoy life.

Good health is our most important asset and poor health is the strongest liability. If there are any “reversible” risk factors that you can eliminate (smoking, excessive drinking, poor weight control, sedentary lifestyle, etc) then jump on these.  There are way too many people in your lives that would be devastated if you leave them…especially prematurely.

No funny songs to accompany this entry.  Just a nice quiet song that will make you think of your good friends and how much you want them to be there for you and you for them.

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