Life expectancy, healthy life expectancy, and burden of disease in older people in the Americas, 1990–2019: a population-based study

Martinez et al.


To describe the life expectancy, healthy life expectancy, disease burden, and leading causes of mortality and disability in adults aged 65 years and older in the Region of the Americas from 1990 to 2019.


We used estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 to examine the level and trends of life expectancy, healthy life expectancy, years of life lost, years lived with disability, and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).


Across the Region, life expectancy at 65 years increased from 17.1 years (95% uncertainty intervals (UI): 17.0–17.1) in 1990 to 19.2 years (95% UI: 18.9–19.4) in 2019 while healthy life expectancy increased from 12.2 years (95% UI: 10.9–12.4) to 13.6 years (95% UI: 12.2–14.9). All-cause DALY rates decreased in each older persons’ age group; however, absolute proportional DALYs increased from 22% to 32%. Ischemic heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were the leading causes of premature mortality. Diabetes mellitus, age-related and other hearing loss, and lower back pain were the leading causes of disability.


The increase in life expectancy and decrease of DALYs indicate the positive effect of improvements in social conditions and health policies. However, the smaller increase in healthy life expectancy suggests that, despite living longer, people spend a substantial amount of time in their old age with disability and illness. Preventable and controllable diseases account for most of the disease burden in older adults in the Americas. Society-wide and life-course approaches, and adequate health services are needed to respond to the health needs of older people in the Region.

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