Nonagenarian siblings and their offspring display lower risk of mortality and morbidity than sporadic nonagenarians: The Leiden Longevity Study

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009 Sep;57(9):1634-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02381.x. Epub 2009 Jul 17.


Objectives: To compare the risk of mortality of nonagenarian siblings with that of sporadic nonagenarians (not selected on having a nonagenarian sibling) and to compare the prevalence of morbidity in their offspring with that of the offsprings' partners.

Design: Longitudinal (mortality risk) and cross-sectional (disease prevalence).

Setting: Nationwide sample.

Participants: The Leiden Longevity Study consists of 991 nonagenarian siblings derived from 420 Caucasian families, 1,365 of their offspring, and 621 of the offsprings' partners. In the Leiden 85-plus Study, 599 subjects aged 85 were included, of whom 275 attained the age of 90 (sporadic nonagenarians).

Measurements: All nonagenarian siblings and sporadic nonagenarians were followed for mortality (with a mean+/-standard deviation follow-up time of 2.7+/-1.4 years and 3.0+/-1.5 years, respectively). Information on medical history and medication use was collected for offspring and their partners.

Results: Nonagenarian siblings had a 41% lower risk of mortality (P<.001) than sporadic nonagenarians. The offspring of nonagenarian siblings had a lower prevalence of myocardial infarction (2.4% vs 4.1%, P=.03), hypertension (23.0% vs 27.5%, P=.01), diabetes mellitus (4.4% vs 7.6%, P=.004), and use of cardiovascular medication (23.0% vs 28.9%, P=.003) than their partners.

Conclusion: The lower mortality rate of nonagenarian siblings and lower prevalence of morbidity in their middle-aged offspring reinforce the notion that resilience against disease and death have similar underlying biology that is determined by genetic or familial factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cardiovascular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cause of Death
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / mortality
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / mortality
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Morbidity*
  • Mortality*
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Netherlands
  • Phenotype
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Siblings


  • Cardiovascular Agents