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Am J Public Health. 1998 October; 88(10): 1463–1468.
PMCID: PMC1508464

Predictors of healthy aging in men with high life expectancies.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to identify risk factors that consistently predict staying healthy in contrast to developing clinical illness and/or physical and mental impairments. METHODS: More than 8000 men of Japanese ancestry were followed for 28 years with repeat examinations and surveillance for deaths and incident clinical illness. Physical and cognitive functions were measured in 1993. Measures of healthy aging included surviving and remaining free of major chronic illnesses and physical and cognitive impairments. RESULTS: Of 6505 healthy men at baseline, 2524 (39%) died prior to the final exam. Of the 3263 available survivors, 41% remained free of major clinical illnesses, 40% remained free of both physical and cognitive impairment, and 19% remained free of both illness and impairment. The most consistent predictors of healthy aging were low blood pressure, low serum glucose, not smoking cigarettes, and not being obese. CONCLUSIONS: Beyond the biological effects of aging, much of the illness and disability in the elderly is related to risk factors present at midlife.

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