To examine the longitudinal associations between aging with preserved functionality, i.e. independent aging and survival, and lifestyle variables, dietary pattern and cardiovascular risk factors.
Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men, Sweden.
Swedish men (n = 1,104) at a mean age of 71 (range 69.4-74.1) were investigated, 369 of whom were evaluated for independent aging 16 years later, at a mean age of 87 (range 84.8-88.9).
A questionnaire was used to obtain information on lifestyle, including education, living conditions, and physical activity. Adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet was assessed according to a modified Mediterranean Diet Score derived from 7-day food records. Cardiovascular risk factors were measured. Independent aging at a mean age of 87 was defined as lack of diagnosed dementia, a Mini-Mental State Examination score of 25 or greater, not institutionalized, independence in personal activities of daily living, and ability to walk outdoors alone. Complete survival data at age 85 were obtained from the Swedish Cause of Death Register.
Fifty-seven percent of the men survived to age 85, and 75% of the participants at a mean age of 87 displayed independent aging. Independent aging was associated with never smoking (vs current) (odds ratio (OR) = 2.20, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.05-4.60) and high (vs low) adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet (OR = 2.69, 95% CI = 1.14-6.80). Normal weight or overweight and waist circumference of 102 cm or less were also associated with independent aging. Similar associations were observed with survival.
Lifestyle factors such as never smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, and not being obese at age 71 were associated with survival and independent aging at age 85 and older in men.
To examine relationships between modifiable midlife factors, aging, and physical and cognitive function (independent aging) and survival in very old age.
Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men, Uppsala, Sweden.
Swedish men investigated in 1970-74 (aged 48.6-51.1) and followed up for four decades (N=2,293).
Conventional cardiovascular risk factors, body mass index (BMI), and dietary biomarkers were measured, and a questionnaire was used to gather information on lifestyle variables at age 50. Four hundred seventy-two men were reinvestigated in 2008-09 (aged 84.8-88.9). Independent aging was defined as survival to age 85, Mini-Mental State Examination score of 25 or greater, not living in an institution, independent in personal care and hygiene, able to walk outdoors without personal help, and no diagnosis of dementia. The National Swedish Death Registry provided survival data.
Thirty-eight percent of the cohort survived to age 85. Seventy-four percent of the participants in 2008-09 were aging independently. In univariable analyses, high leisure-time physical activity predicted survival but not independent aging. Low work-time physical activity was associated more strongly with independent aging (odds ratio (OR)=1.84, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.18-2.88) than with survival (OR=1.27, 95% CI=1.05-1.52). In multivariable analyses, midlife BMI was negatively associated (OR=0.80/SD, 95% CI=0.65-0.99/SD), and never or former smoking was positively associated (OR=1.66, 95% CI=1.07-2.59), with independent aging. As expected, conventional cardiovascular and lifestyle risk factors were associated with mortality.
A normal midlife BMI and not smoking were associated with independent aging close to four decades later, indicating that normal weight at midlife has the potential not only to increase survival, but also to preserve independence with aging.