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Indicators of "Healthy Aging" in older women (65-69 years of age). A data-mining approach based on prediction of long-term survival

William R Swindell12*, Kristine E Ensrud3, Peggy M Cawthon4, Jane A Cauley5, Steve R Cummings4, Richard A Miller126 and Study Of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, University of Michigan, School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-2200, USA

2 Geriatrics Center, University of Michigan, School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-2200, USA

3 University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

4 California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, San Francisco, CA, 94120-7999, USA

5 Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 15260, USA

6 VA Medical Center, University of Michigan, School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-2200, USA

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BMC Geriatrics 2010, 10:55  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-55

Published: 17 August 2010



Prediction of long-term survival in healthy adults requires recognition of features that serve as early indicators of successful aging. The aims of this study were to identify predictors of long-term survival in older women and to develop a multivariable model based upon longitudinal data from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures (SOF).


We considered only the youngest subjects (n = 4,097) enrolled in the SOF cohort (65 to 69 years of age) and excluded older SOF subjects more likely to exhibit a "frail" phenotype. A total of 377 phenotypic measures were screened to determine which were of most value for prediction of long-term (19-year) survival. Prognostic capacity of individual predictors, and combinations of predictors, was evaluated using a cross-validation criterion with prediction accuracy assessed according to time-specific AUC statistics.


Visual contrast sensitivity score was among the top 5 individual predictors relative to all 377 variables evaluated (mean AUC = 0.570). A 13-variable model with strong predictive performance was generated using a forward search strategy (mean AUC = 0.673). Variables within this model included a measure of physical function, smoking and diabetes status, self-reported health, contrast sensitivity, and functional status indices reflecting cumulative number of daily living impairments (HR ≥ 0.879 or RH ≤ 1.131; P < 0.001). We evaluated this model and show that it predicts long-term survival among subjects assigned differing causes of death (e.g., cancer, cardiovascular disease; P < 0.01). For an average follow-up time of 20 years, output from the model was associated with multiple outcomes among survivors, such as tests of cognitive function, geriatric depression, number of daily living impairments and grip strength (P < 0.03).


The multivariate model we developed characterizes a "healthy aging" phenotype based upon an integration of measures that together reflect multiple dimensions of an aging adult (65-69 years of age). Age-sensitive components of this model may be of value as biomarkers in human studies that evaluate anti-aging interventions. Our methodology could be applied to data from other longitudinal cohorts to generalize these findings, identify additional predictors of long-term survival, and to further develop the "healthy aging" concept.