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Sociodemographic and Lifestyle Statistics of Oldest Old People (>80 Years) Living in Ikaria Island: The Ikaria Study

DOI: 10.4061/2011/679187

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Background. There are places around the world where people live longer and they are active past the age of 100 years, sharing common behavioral characteristics; these places (i.e., Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, Loma Linda in California and Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica) have been named the “Blue Zones”. Recently it was reported that people in Ikaria Island, Greece, have also one of the highest life expectancies in the world, and joined the “Blue Zones”. The aim of this work work was to evaluate various demographic, lifestyle and psychological characteristics of very old (>80 years) people participated in Ikaria Study. Methods. During 2009, 1420 people (aged 30+) men and women from Ikaria Island, Greece, were voluntarily enrolled in the study. For this work, 89 males and 98 females over the age of 80 yrs were studied (13% of the sample). Socio-demographic, clinical, psychological and lifestyle characteristics were assessed using standard questionnaires and procedures. Results. A large proportion of the Ikaria Study's sample was over the age of 80; moreover, the percent of people over 90 were much higher than the European population average. The majority of the oldest old participants reported daily physical activities, healthy eating habits, avoidance of smoking, frequent socializing, mid-day naps and extremely low rates of depression. Conclusion. Modifiable risk factors, such as physical activity, diet, smoking cessation and mid-day naps, might depict the “secrets” of the long-livers; these findings suggest that the interaction of environmental, behavioral together with clinical characteristics may determine longevity. This concept must be further explored in order to understand how these factors relate and which are the most important in shaping prolonged life. 1. Introduction Demographic analyses throughout the world suggest that the oldest old (i.e., people of age 80 years and older) are the fastest growing portion of the population [1]. Due to these changes, the United Nations’ Global Population Pyramid is undertaking a shift, from the classical shape of a pyramid to a cube [2]. The resultant change in the age distribution of the world’s population has been, partially attributed to the medical advancements of the recent years, a reduction in maternal and infant mortality, as well as in improved nutrition [3]. Beyond these global considerations it is of interest that there are places around the world where people live longer and, most importantly, they are physically active even after the age of 100 years. Specifically, in the past years


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