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More women than men reaching age 100, but the men are healthier than the women

More women than men are reaching their 100th birthday, but the men who do hit 100 tend to be healthier than women at that age. Those are the findings of a new study of centenarians (100-year-olds) in the U.K.

The researchers, led by Nisha Hazra at King’s College London, used electronic health records (EHR) to study a nationally representative sample of people who turned 100 between 1990 and 2013. Of the 11,084 people who celebrated their 100th birthday during that time, 81 per cent were women.

The study showed that the number of women turning 100 increased by 50 per cent between 1990 and 2013, while the number of men reaching that milestone increased by 30 per cent.  Overall, 79 per cent of the women and 63 per cent of the men had some type of health problem.

Some of the most common health conditions affecting people at age 100 included musculoskeletal issues such as arthritis, eye or ear disorders such as cataracts, and digestive diseases. Women were 64 per cent more likely than men to have more than one of these health conditions.

Women were also more than twice as likely as men to have multiple geriatric syndromes, which include depression, dementia, cognitive impairment, falls, mobility problems and weakness. Many centenarians (30 per cent of women and 49 per cent of men) did not have any geriatric syndromes.

The researchers point out that the rates of serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, stroke and coronary heart disease seen in 100-year-olds tended to be lower than the rates seen in the over-75 age group as a whole. They suggest that this might indicate that people who live to 100 may be less susceptible to these conditions.

The study authors conclude that these findings show a sharp increase in the population of people age 100 and over. They also note that women in this age group have higher rates of chronic health issues and age-related disabilities than men.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on June 22, 2015.

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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital