Rheinisch-Westfalische Akademie der Wissenschaften

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The gain in life expectancy in the last onehundred years was achieved mainly through the conquest of transmissible diseases. Life expectancy in middle age has not, however, improved appreciably because the reduction in the infectious diseases was counterbalanced by an increase in the non-transmissible conditions, especially the cardiovascular disorders. This situation results in a great loss in years of life. There is every reason to believe that changes in daily habits of living and improvement of environmental conditions could diminish the corresponding mortality, morbidity and invalidity to a high degree. On the other hand, an increase in aging and old people in the population leads inevitably to an increasing number of handicapped persons. Nevertheless, it is to be expected that preventive measures would improve the general state of health in the population into advanced age. The present level of scientific knowledge with regard to the prevention of premature coronary heart disease, the major component of the cardiovascular disorders, justifies this optimistic assessment and serves as a model for the preservation of health on the individual and population level. Literatur [1] McKEoWN, T.: Die Bedeutung der Medizin - Traum, Trugbild oder Nemesis. Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1982. [2] StatistischesJahrbuch der Schweiz, herausgegeben yom Bundesamt fiir Statistik. Birkauser Verlag, Basel; Daten aus den Jahrbiichern fiir die entsprechenden Jahre entnommen. [3] Beviilkerungsbewegung in der Schweiz, Bundesamt fUr Statistik, Bern, 1984. [4] DoLI., R.: Objectives of preventive medicine. In: The Value of Preventive Medicine.