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Increasing women's lifespan

Over the past 30 years women have been living longer. In 1984, a woman's life expectancy was 78.1 Today, women on average live to 81 — and that number continues to rise.2 However, the life expectancy of American women ranks far below Asian and European women, whose life expectancies range from 87 to 90 years.3

Living longer means more women are at risk for chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease. But, there's good news, too. Women are living longer because of preventive measures and new, better treatments for diseases, according to a recent CDC report.4 A large majority of this prevention and improved treatment results from federally funded research from agencies such as NIH, CDC, AHRQ, and SAMHSA.

Other examples of HHS' work are programs that target health behaviors or specific diseases, such as heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for American women. Recent programs and campaigns include the CDC's Well-integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation (WISEWOMAN) program, NHLBI's The Heart Truth® and OWH's Make the Call. Don't Miss a Beat.

Programs and campaigns across the government help raise awareness and support women in taking care of their health. But we still have improvements to make. In the next 30 years, we all need to work together to support women in their decisions to stop smoking, eat healthier, get active, and see their doctor regularly for screenings. Thanks to the passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, many women can now get annual well-woman visits and many preventive services at no cost. Together we can help women live longer.


  1. CDC, National Vital Statistics Reports
  2. CDC, National Vital Statistics Reports
  3. WHO, Life expectancy: Life expectancy - Data by country
  4. CDC, National Vital Statistics Reports