In a scenario of increasing life expectancy worldwide, it is mandatory to identify the characteristics of a healthy aging phenotype, including survival predictors, and to disentangle those related to environment/lifestyle versus those related to familiarity/genetics. To this aim we comprehensively characterised a cohort of 1,160 Italian subjects of 90 years and over (90+, mean age 93 years; age range 90-106 years) followed for 6 years survival, belonging to 552 sib-ships (familiar longevity) recruited (2005-2008) within the EU-funded GEHA project in three Italian geographic areas (Northern, Central and Southern Italy) different for urban/rural and socio-economical characteristics. On the whole, the following factors emerged as significant predictors of survival after 90 years of age: absence of cognitive impairment and physical disability, high hand grip strength scores and body mass index (BMI) values, "excellent/good" self-reported health, high haemoglobin and total cholesterol levels and low creatinine levels. These parameters, excluding BMI values, were also significantly associated within sib-ships, suggesting a strong familial/genetic component. Geographical micro-heterogeneity of survival predictors emerged, such as functional and physical status being more important in Southern than in Central and Northern Italy. In conclusion, we identified modifiable survival predictors related to specific domains, whose role and importance vary according to the geographic area considered and which can help in interpreting the genetic results obtained by the GEHA project, whose major aim is the comprehensive evaluation of phenotypic and genetic data.
Age (dordrecht, Netherlands), 2014, Vol 36, Issue 2, p. 949-66
Nonagenarians; Familial longevity; Health status; Mortality predictors; Lifestyle