Characteristics and Incidence of Chronic Illness in Community-Dwelling Predominantly Male U.S. Veteran Centenarians

Raya Elfadel Kheirbek, Ali Fokar, Nawar Shara, Leakie K. Bell-Wilson, Hans J. Moore, Edwin Olsen, Marc R. Blackman, Maria D. Llorente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives: To assess the incidence of chronic illness and its effect on veteran centenarians. Design: Retrospective longitudinal cohort study. Setting: United States Veterans Affairs Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW). Participants: Community-dwelling veterans born between 1910 and 1915 who survived to at least age 80 (N = 86,892; 31,121 octogenarians, 52,420 nonagenarians, 3,351 centenarians). Measurements: The Kaplan–Meier method was used to estimate cumulative incidence of chronic conditions according to age group. Incidence rates were compared using the log-rank test. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate unadjusted hazard ratios. Results: Ninety-seven percent of Centenarians were male, 88.0% were white, 31.8% were widowed, 87.5% served in World War II, and 63.9% did not have a service-related disability. The incidence rates of chronic illnesses were higher in octogenarians than centenarians (atrial fibrillation, 15.0% vs 0.6%, P <.001; heart failure, 19.3% vs 0.4%, P <.001; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 17.9% vs 0.6%, P <.001; hypertension, 29.6% vs 3.0%, P <.001; end-stage renal disease, 7.2% vs 0.1%, P <.001; malignancy, 14.1% vs 0.6%, P <.001; diabetes mellitus, 11.1% vs 0.4%, P <.001; stroke, 4.6% vs 0.4%, P <.001) and in nonagenarians than centenarians (atrial fibrillation, 13.2% vs 3.5%, P <.001; heart failure, 15.8% vs 3.3%, P <.001; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 11.8% vs 3.5%, P <.001; hypertension, 27.2% vs 12.8%, P <.001; end-stage renal disease, 11.9% vs 4.5%, P <.001; malignancy, 8.6% vs 2.3%, P <.001; diabetes mellitus, 7.5% vs 2.2%, P <.001; and stroke, 3.5% vs 1.3%, P <.001). Conclusion: In a large cohort of predominantly male community-dwelling elderly veterans, centenarians had a lower incidence of chronic illness than those in their 80s and 90s, demonstrating similar compression of morbidity and extension of health span observed in other studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2100-2106
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • centenarians
  • chronic illness
  • incidence
  • nonagenarians
  • octogenarians
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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