BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Americans are not living as long as they used to, according to new numbers released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday.

For the first time in about two decades, the average American is living a shorter life. The average lifespan is 78.8 years — down one-tenth of a year from 2014.

“We’ve come a long way to 78 years old, but we don’t like seeing it backslide,” said Dr. Jonathan Rich, Mercy Medical Center.

Dr. Rich tells WJZ the findings go hand-in-hand with steep increases in heart and lung disease and diabetes.

Bartolotta: “Should this be a wake-up call?”

Dr. Rich: “Yes, I think this should be a wake-up call for people.”

Women continue to outlive men — expected to live 81.2 years — while the average male lifespan is just over 76 years.

Many of the things most threatening to our lifespans can be prevented.

At Family and Children’s Services in Baltimore, the goal is to keep kids — and aging adults — moving and interacting together.

“The biggest piece of advice that we always give people is to stay active. Not only physically active, but cognitively active as well,” said Katie Cashman, Family and Children’s Services.

Their programs help fight the biggest increase in cause of death — Alzheimer’s Disease — up 15-percent last year.

Overall, Dr. Rich says, it boils down to making the right choices.

“You know what, we’ve got all the technology in the world, but you can’t improve a great lifestyle,” he said.

Infant deaths also increased last year, but the CDC says the increase was not significant.

The only one of the top ten causes of death that did not increase was cancer.

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