The Inherited Benefit of Old Age

Having centenarian parents reduces heart disease risk for children

MONDAY, Nov. 18, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- If you've seen one of your parents blow out 100 candles on their birthday cake, you may have your own cause for celebration.

Adults who had a parent live to be at least 100 have much lower incidence of heart disease and fewer major heart risk factors in old age than adults whose parents died in their 70s, says an American study being presented today at the American Heart Association's scientific sessions meeting in Chicago.

The study compared 176 adult children of centenarians (called c-children) to a control group of 166 adult children who had at least one parent die at age 73. That's the average life expectancy for someone who survives past age 20.

The average age of the c-children in the study was 71.1 years, and the average age in the control group was 69.7 years.

The average age at death was 102.4 years for the centenarian parents of the c-children. The average age of death of the second parent was 77 years in both the c-children group and the control group.

One of the c-children had two parents who lived to age 100, but a single individual is too small a sample to draw any conclusions about being the offspring of two centenarians, the researchers say.

The study found that c-children had lower rates of high blood pressure (26 percent versus 52 percent), heart disease (13 percent versus 27 percent), and diabetes (5 percent versus 11 percent) than the control group.

The c-children also weighed less. Female c-children had an average weight of 146 pounds, compared to an average of 158 pounds for control group females. Male c-children had an average weight of 184 pounds, while control group males had an average weight of 202 pounds.

C-children also had lower body mass indexes than the control group.

However, the study found no significant difference between the two groups when it came to the prevalence of other age-related diseases such as cancer, stroke, dementia, osteoporosis, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, depression, Parkinson's disease and thyroid disease.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart disease.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 18, 2002
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