Medical advancements are improving quality of life and life expectancy, according to the National Center for Health Statistics’s report for 2009, although access to medical technologies continues to vary according to gender, race, ethnicity and geography.

Study authors determined that life expectancy has risen to an average of 77.9 years since 2007, an increase of 3.5 years for men and 1.6 years for women. Results also revealed decreases in mortality from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer, while obesity increased from 15 percent in 1976 to 35 percent in 2006.

“New technology–and new uses for existing technology–can improve the length and quality of life,” say study authors. “However, questions remain about how much improvement is possible when resources are scarce and costs continue to increase. In addition, there is concern about whether target populations are being appropriately and equitably served.”