Study Shows Offspring Live Longer When Parents Lived Longer

In middle aged populations, the risks of cardiovascular conditions may be 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 Aug. 15 in the special Cardiovascular Health Promotion issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers 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.

Results showed 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 caution that the study’s volunteer cohort may not be representative of the greater population.

“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,” says David Melzer, MBBCh, PhD, senior author of the study. “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.”

Keywords: Anemia, Atrial Fibrillation, Biological Specimen Banks, Cohort Studies, Coronary Artery Disease, Death Certificates, Fathers, Follow-Up Studies, Health Promotion, Heart Failure, Hypercholesterolemia, Hypertension, Hypertension, Incidence, Longevity, Middle Aged, Mothers, Motor Activity, Obesity, Parents, Peripheral Vascular Diseases, Research Personnel, Risk Factors, Smoking, Stroke, Volunteers

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