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How to Succeed in Life…

Comment by Paul Leeson, EACPR Exercise, Basic and Translational Research Section

1) Association Between Northern Manhattan Study Global Vascular Risk Score and Successful Aging
J. Warsch et al.
J Am Geriatr Soc 2013; Advance online publication, DOI: 10.1111/jgs.12166

2) Evidence that Aerobic Fitness Is More Salient than Weight Status in Predicting Standardized Math and Reading Outcomes in Fourth- through Eighth-Grade Students
R. Rauner et al.
J Pediatr 2013; Advance online publication, doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.01.006


We are familiar with the idea that some people manage to age “gracefully” but it appears that it is also possible to age “successfully”. Of course, everyone “fails” at ageing eventually but, until that point, Warsch et al. (1) quantify “success” as lack of major disease, such as coronary artery disease and stroke, normal kidney function, a good Barthel score for activities of daily living and an above average mini mental state examination score. 

How do you “succeed” at ageing? Warsch et al. studied participants in the North Manhattan Study and found that those with the lowest Global Vascular Risk Score were more likely to have aged successfully. This particular risk score includes alcohol consumption and physical activity as well as cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and blood pressure measures. Of these factors blood pressure appeared to be particularly linked with maintenance of mental capacity.

At the beginning of life mental capacity tends to be quantified based on maths and reading abilities. Rauner et al. (2) looked at two particular cardiovascular risk factors, weight status and physical activity to understand which features of cardiovascular health are relevant to educational status in school age children. They found aerobic fitness was the major determinant of educational “success”.

Heart healthy lifestyles appear to predict “success” at all ages.