Predictors of Extraordinary Survival

Here another study of the long-lived confirms the common wisdom: "Objectives: To identify predictors of extraordinary survival. Design: Longitudinal study of a cohort of elderly people followed up until almost all have died. Setting: Two counties in Iowa; a part of the Established Populations for Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly. Participants: Two thousand eight hundred ninety community-dwelling citizens aged 65 to 85 at baseline and surviving at least 3 years. Measurements: Data relating to age, sex, birth order, parental longevity, marital status, education, family income, social support, self-reported health, chronic diseases, blood pressure, body mass index, physical ability, exercise, life attitude and mental health were obtained. Extraordinary survivors (ESs) were defined to include approximately 10% of the longest survivors in their sex group. Results: The 253 ESs were far more likely never to have smoked. In models adjusted for age, sex, and smoking, the earlier-life factors such as parental longevity, being earlier in the birth order (in women only), and body mass index at age 50 were associated with extraordinary survival. In similar models for predictors at age 65 to 85, extraordinary survival was associated with excellent self-reported health, fewer chronic diseases, better physical mobility and memory, and positive attitude toward life, but it was not associated with depression, anxiety, or sleep quality. In multivariable models, attitude toward life was not an independent predictor. Women in the top third of a cumulative score of independent predictors were 9.3 times as likely to reach extraordinary survival as those in the bottom third. Conclusion: ESs had fewer 'classical' risk factors and were in better health than their contemporaneous controls. Possibly genetic factors such as parental longevity and birth order appear to be less predictive in men than in women."



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