A 29 year follow-up of hospitalizations among 40,000 Danes born in 1905
Centenarians surpass the current human life expectancy with about 20-25 years. However, whether centenarians represent healthy aging still remains an open question. Previous studies have been hampered by a number of methodological shortcomings such as a cross-sectional design and lack of an appropriate control group. In a longitudinal population-based cohort, it was examined whether the centenarian phenotype may be a useful model for healthy aging. The study was based on a completefollow up of 39 945 individuals alive in the Danish 1905 birth cohort on January 1, 1977 identified through the Danish Civil Registration System (DCRS). Data from the Danish Demographic Database and The Danish National Patient Register (in existence since 1977) were used. The 1905 cohort was followed up from 1977 through 2004 with respect to hospitalizations and number of hospital days. Survival status was available until December 2006. Danish centenarians from the 1905 cohort were hospitalized substantially less than their shorter-lived contemporaries at the same point in time during the years 1977 through 2004. For example, at age 71-74, the proportion of nonhospitalized centenarians was 80.5% compared with 68.4% among individuals who died in their early 80s. This trend was evident in both sexes. As a result of their lower hospitalization rates and length of stay in hospital compared with their contemporaries, who died at younger ages, Danish centenarians represent healthy agers. Centenarians constitute a useful study population in the search for fixed traits associated with exceptional longevity, such as genotype.