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Midlife crisis linked to men?s life spans

india Updated: Nov 16, 2006 14:10 IST
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Reaching that 40 year mark may send a lot of men straight into a midlife crisis, but it seems that those who manage not to let their life be taken over by smoking, eating, drinking and hypertension, tend to live a longer and healthier life that the men who do.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., of the Pacific Health Research Institute and Kuakini Medical Center in Honolulu.

The study was conducted on 5,820 Japanese-American middle-aged men in the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program/Honolulu Asia Aging Study, who were followed for up to 40 years (1965-2005) to assess overall and exceptional survival.

Exceptional survival was defined as survival to a specified age (75, 80, 85, or 90 years) without incidence of 6 major chronic diseases and without physical and cognitive impairment. The diseases were coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer (excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson disease, and treated diabetes.

The researchers found that out of the 5,820 original participants, 2,451 participants (42 percent) survived to age 85 years and 655 participants (11 percent) met the criteria for exceptional survival to age 85 years.

Further studies showed that high grip strength and avoidance of overweight, hyperglycemia, hypertension, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption were associated with both overall and exceptional survival.

In addition, high education and avoidance of hypertriglyceridemia (elevated triglyceride level) were associated with exceptional survival, and lack of a marital partner was associated with death before age 85 years.

"In summary, we have identified several potentially important risk factors for healthy survival in a large group of middle-aged men. These risk factors can be easily measured in clinical settings and are, for the most part, modifiable. This study suggests that common approaches that target multiple risk factors simultaneously, such as avoidance of smoking or hypertension, and approaches that enhance insulin sensitivity, such as maintaining a lean body weight, may improve the probability of better health at older ages. This may be especially important for men, few of whom survive to oldest-old age," the researchers stated.

The study is published in the November 15 issue of JAMA.

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