A Modified Healthy Aging Index and Its Association with Mortality: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2002.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Comorbidity indices that are based on clinically recognized disease do not capture the full spectrum of health. The Healthy Aging Index (HAI) was recently developed to describe a wider range of health and disease across multiple organ systems. We characterized the distribution of a modified HAI (mHAI) by sociodemographics in a representative sample of the U.S. population. We also examined the association of the mHAI with mortality across individuals with different levels of clinically recognizable comorbidities.


Data are from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2000, 2001-2002) on 2,451 adults aged 60 years or older. Five mHAI components (systolic blood pressure, Digit Symbol Substitution Test, cystatin C, glucose, and respiratory problems) were scored 0 (healthiest), 1, or 2 (unhealthiest) by sex-specific tertiles or clinically relevant cutoffs and summed to construct the mHAI.


The mean mHAI score was 4.3; 20.6% had a score of 0-2. 33.2% had a score of 3-4, 31.0% had a score of 5-6, and 15.2% had a score of 7-10. Mean mHAI scores were lower in adults who were younger, non-Hispanic whites, more educated, and married/living with partner. After multivariate adjustment, per unit higher of the mHAI was associated with higher all-cause mortality (HR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.11-1.27) and higher cardiovascular mortality (HR = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.11-1.35). Within each comorbidity category (0, 1, 2, 3, 4+), the mHAI was still widely distributed and further stratified mortality.


Substantial variation exists in the mHAI across sociodemographic subgroups. The mHAI could provide incremental value for mortality risk prediction beyond clinically diagnosed chronic diseases among elders.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wu, C; Smit, E; Sanders, JL; Newman, AB; Odden, MC

Published Date

  • October 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 72 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1437 - 1444

PubMed ID

  • 28329253

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5861904

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1758-535X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1079-5006

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/gerona/glw334


  • eng