Offspring Live Longer When Parents Lived Longer, UK Study Reports

Offspring of long-lived parents have lower rates of many cardiovascular conditions

Contact: Rachel Cagan,, 202-375-6395

WASHINGTON (Aug 15, 2016) -

In middle aged populations, the risks of cardiovascular conditions are progressively lower the longer a person’s parents lived past 69 years old, according to a study of 186,000 participants using a voluntary database published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers in the United Kingdom (working with colleagues in Connecticut, France and India) examined 186,151 non-adopted participants aged 55-73 years with deceased parents who participated in UK Biobank, a project that collects data on volunteers for health research. Follow-up data was collected over eight years from hospital admissions records and death records. At the start of the study, increased parental longevity was associated with higher education, higher income, more physical activity, and lower rates of smoking and obesity.

There was an inverse relationship between age of parent’s death and the mortality rate of offspring. When the mother and father survived past age 69, all-cause mortality of offspring declined 16 percent and 17 percent, respectively, per additional decade of the parents’ lives, and coronary heart disease mortality declined by 20 percent and 21 percent per additional decade of the parents’ lives.

Participants with parents who lived longer also showed lower incidence of peripheral vascular disease, heart failure, stroke, hypertension, anemia, hypercholesterolemia and atrial fibrillation.

The researchers previously found that offspring of parents who lived longer had lower genetic risk scores for coronary artery disease, systolic blood pressure, body mass index, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

“It’s been unclear why some older people develop heart conditions in their sixties while others only develop these conditions in their nineties or even older. Avoiding the well-known risk factors such as smoking is very important, but our research shows there are also factors inherited from parents that influence heart health. As we understand these parental factors better, we should be able to help more people to age well,” said David Melzer, MBBCh, PhD, professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Exeter Medical School in Exeter, United Kingdom, professor at the University of Connecticut Center on Aging and an author of the study.

The study’s limitation include that the cohort of volunteer subjects may not be representative of the greater population, as well as the limited age-range of the offspring studied.

The American College of Cardiology is a 52,000-member medical society that is the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team. The mission of the College is to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health. The ACC leads in the formation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The College operates national registries to measure and improve care, offers cardiovascular accreditation to hospitals and institutions, provides professional medical education, disseminates cardiovascular research and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more, visit

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology is the most widely read cardiovascular journal in the world and is the top ranked cardiovascular journal for its scientific impact. JACC is the flagship for a family of journals that publish peer-reviewed research on all aspects of cardiovascular disease. JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging and JACC: Heart Failure also rank among the top ten cardiovascular journals for impact. JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology and JACC: Basic Translational Science are the newest journals in the JACC family. Learn more at



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