Factors associated with reaching 90 years of age: a study of men born in 1913 in Gothenburg, Sweden

J Intern Med. 2011 Apr;269(4):441-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02331.x. Epub 2010 Dec 22.


Objectives: Increasing numbers of people reach old age. We wanted to identify variables of importance for reaching 90 years old and determine how the predictive ability of these variables might change over time.

Setting and subjects: All men in the city of Gothenburg born in 1913 on dates divisible by 3, which is on the 3rd, 6th, 9th etc., were included in the study. Thus, 973 men were invited, and 855 were examined in 1963 at age 50. Further examinations were made at age 54, 60 and 67. Anthropometric data, lifestyle and parental factors, blood pressure, lung function, X-ray of heart and lungs and maximum work performance were recorded. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was used to analyse the predictive capacity of a variable.

Results: A total of 111 men (13%) reached 90 years of age, men who reached 90 years were more likely at age 50 to be nonsmokers, consume less coffee, have higher socio-economic status and have low serum cholesterol levels than those who did not reach this age; however, at age 50 or 62, parents' survival was of no prognostic importance. Variables of greatest importance at higher ages were low blood pressure and measures related to good cardiorespiratory function. In multivariable analysis, including all examinations, being a nonsmoker, consuming small amounts of coffee, having high housing costs at age 50, good maximum working capacity and low serum cholesterol were related to a better chance of survival to age 90.

Conclusions: Low levels of cardiovascular risk factors, high socio-economic status and good functional capacity, irrespective of parents' survival, characterize men destined to reach the age of 90.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over / physiology*
  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Coffee / adverse effects
  • Costs and Cost Analysis / statistics & numerical data
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Housing / economics
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Smoking / mortality
  • Social Class
  • Stress, Psychological / mortality
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Work Capacity Evaluation


  • Coffee
  • Cholesterol