WASHINGTON – In general, older patients are more likely to have heart failure than younger ones. That is not true, however, with a group of men 100-years-old or older treated by the VA, according to a new study.

Background information in the article, published in Innovation in Aging, notes that male centenarians tend to be under-represented in centenarian studies, although the VA has the largest known male centenarian cohort of any nation.1

A study team led by Washington DCVAMC researchers looked at the incidence of heart failure and how that affects the venerable veterans’ survival.

To do that, they conducted a retrospective longitudinal cohort study of elderly U.S. veterans. All the subjects were community–dwelling and born between 1910 and 1915, with survival to at least age 80.

The study included 31,09 octogenarians, 52,419 nonagenarians, and 3,351 centenarians. Veteran centenarians were 97.0% male, 88.0% white, and 31.8% widowed., study authors pointed out, with 87.5% having served in World War II and 63.9% with no service-related disability.

The study found significant differences in HF incidence rates: By age 89, incidence of HF for octogenarians was 19.3% vs. 3.3% for nonagenarians and 0.4% for centenarians.  By age 99, incidence of HF for nonagenarians increased to 15.8% and 3.3% for centenarians.

The hazard ratio for heart failure incidence among octogenarians and nonagenarians compared with centenarians was found to be HR 36.5 and 5.37, respectively.

“In a large cohort of predominantly male U.S. veterans, compared with octogenarians and nonagenarians, centenarians had the lowest incidence of heart failure after age 80, demonstrating compression of morbidity and extension of health- span in this unique group of survivors,” study authors conclude.

1.    Kheirbek R, Fokar A, Llorente M, Fletcher R, Moore H. Incidence of Heart Failure in Predominantly Male U.S. Veteran Centenarians. Innov Aging (2017) 1 (suppl_1): 240. https://doi.org/10.1093/geroni/igx004.887. Published 30 June 2017.