Sex, Race, and Age Differences in Observed Years of Life, Healthy Life, and Able Life among Older Adults in The Cardiovascular Health Study.

Published online

Journal Article

OBJECTIVE: Longevity fails to account for health and functional status during aging. We sought to quantify differences in years of total life, years of healthy life, and years of able life among groups defined by age, sex, and race. DESIGN: Primary analysis of a cohort study. SETTING: 18 years of annual evaluations in four U.S. communities. PARTICIPANTS: 5888 men and women aged 65 and older. MEASUREMENTS: Years of life were calculated as the time from enrollment to death or 18 years. Years of total, healthy, and able life were determined from self-report during annual or semi-annual contacts. Cumulative years were summed across each of the age and sex groups. RESULTS: White women had the best outcomes for all three measures, followed by white men, non-white women, and non-white men. For example, at the mean age of 73, a white female participant could expect 12.9 years of life, 8.9 of healthy life and 9.5 of able life, while a non-white female could expect 12.6, 7.0, and 8.0 years, respectively. A white male could expect 11.2, 8.1, and 8.9 years of life, healthy life, and able life, and a non-white male 10.3, 6.2, and 7.9 years. Regardless of starting age, individuals of the same race and sex groups spent similar amounts (not proportions) of time in an unhealthy or unable state. CONCLUSION: Gender had a greater effect on longevity than did race, but race had a greater effect on years spent healthy or able. The mean number of years spent in an unable or sick state was surprisingly independent of the lifespan.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Thielke, SM; Diehr, PH; Yee, LM; Arnold, AM; Quiñones, AR; Whitson, HE; Jacob, ME; Newman, AB

Published Date

  • November 25, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 5 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 440 - 451

PubMed ID

  • 26610574

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26610574

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2075-4426

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3390/jpm5040440


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Switzerland