Another Study Showing Centenarians to Suffer a Lesser Burden of Disease

In this research, it is shown that centenarians have a lower burden of disease than people who die at earlier ages. You might compare it with very similar results noted last month. Aging is the accumulation of molecular damage and its consequences; the only way to reach later ages is to be less damaged or more resilient to the consequences of damage. It would be very surprising to find that the longest-lived people are more damaged, rather than less, so the results here are the expected outcome for such a study. Nonetheless, centenarians are still frail and greatly impacted by aging - their state of being is not a goal to aim for via medical technology. Instead we should be looking at ways to turn back the causes of aging for everyone, to produce outright rejuvenation, not merely a slightly slower decline.

Researchers have been studying illness trajectories in centenarians during the final years of their lives. According to their findings, people who died aged 100 or older suffered fewer diseases than those who died aged 90 to 99, or 80 to 89. Forty years ago, life expectancy was such that, in the industrialized world, only (approximately) one in 10,000 people were expected to reach the age of 100 or more. Today's estimates suggest that half of all children born in the developed world during this century will live to at least 100. Therefore, the question that poses itself is whether extreme old age is necessarily associated with increased morbidity. There is evidence to suggest that centenarians develop fewer diseases than younger cohorts of extreme old people. In discussions surrounding the issues associated with aging populations, this is referred to as the 'compression of morbidity' hypothesis - a term which describes the phenomenon of the onset of disability and age-related diseases being increasingly being well into old age, resulting in a shortening (or compression) of this phase.

Using diagnoses and health care utilization data routinely collected by the German statutory health insurance company Knappschaft, the researchers studied relevant events during the final six years of life of approximately 1,400 of the oldest old. For the purposes of analysis, this cohort was then divided into three groups. Data on persons who had died aged 100 or older were compared with random samples of persons who had died in their eighties or nineties. The analysis, which included data on very old persons living in their own homes as well as data on those living in residential care, focused on comorbid conditions classified by the Elixhauser Comorbidity Index as being usually associated with in-hospital mortality. "According to the data, centenarians suffered from an average of 3.3 such conditions during the three months prior to their deaths, compared with an average of 4.6 conditions for those who had died in their eighties."

If one includes disorders commonly associated with extreme old age, such as different types of dementia and musculoskeletal disorders, approximately half of all centenarians recorded a total of five or more comorbid conditions. The same number of comorbid conditions was found in 60 percent of persons who had died in their nineties and 66 percent of persons who had died in their eighties. While different types of dementia and heart failure were found to be more common among centenarians than among the younger cohorts, high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, renal failure, and chronic diseases were less common in those who had died after reaching 100 years of age. The incidence of musculoskeletal disorders was found to be similar in all three age groups.



Interestingly, deafness, blindness and extreme frailty are probably not considered comorbidities in this line of statistical research.

Naturally the more people live the more damage they will accumulate so it's no surprise another study showed that more than 50% of centenarians couldn't climb up a flight of stairs and about that many were legally blind and deaf. Of course none of these three is considered a disease per say because they don't kill in a easily measurable time-span even though they obviously point to deeper, more serious problems with a multitude of organs and systems.

The only diseases centenarians seem to escape are the ones that kill "early" and "graphically" if you will. Falling and hitting your head at your 103 birthday or chocking to death in your bed is completely permissible on the other hand.

Of course this drives the illusion of compressed morbidity being a possibility in humans. And yet even this study showed the centenarians suffered from at least 3 diseases (as per the current nomenclature) at their death. Combine that with the reality of being a centenarian and you get a terrifying image.

As long as the whole of aging isn't considered something worth treating, I don't think it will be easy to change the public opinion. I strongly suspect "compression of morbidity" is going to disgust most people once they see the results in action, our job at advocacy is only going to get harder in the future.

Posted by: Anonymoose at July 21st, 2017 8:35 AM

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