Why Supercentenarians Die

The Daily Bruin looks at the work of the Gerontology Research Group and Supercentenarian Research Foundation: "UCLA's Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine recently autopsied 115-year-old Gertrude Baines, formerly the oldest person in the world. Baines was one of the current 77 validated living supercentenarians in the world, a group including any person aged 110 years or older. She died Sept. 11, 2009 from Senile Systemic Amyloidosis ... Supercentenarians appear to escape from the common diseases that kill ordinary people, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, but there's another form of the grim reaper waiting in the wings ... Senile Systemic Amyloidosis is a common cause of death among supercentenarians. The mechanism involves a slow process in which a native protein called Transthyretin, which transports thyroid hormones to the body, becomes increasingly unstable. As humans age, the carrier protein begins to unravel and misfold, sticking to the inside of blood vessels and restricting blood flow. As a result, the heart undergoes hypertrophy, growing and working harder in an attempt to compensate ... The consequence of this process includes the symptoms of congestive heart failure, but without an autopsy, the attending physician would never know the underlying cause. ... Now that we've started this research, we can draw attention to Senile Systemic Amyloidosis and we can try to find a cure for this disease. Maybe supercentenarians could live healthy even longer."

Link: http://www.dailybruin.com/articles/2010/3/5/autopsy-115-year-old-aids-research/

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