Abstract

In the study, we examined the extent to which the harmful effects of risk factors on all-cause mortality can be counteracted by healthy lifestyle practices in the oldest-old (80 years of age and older). A total of 17,660 oldest-old from China were followed up for up to 10 years. The data were analyzed using the Cox proportional hazard model with adjustment for potential confounders. We found that having a rural residence, not being married, having lower economic status, physical disability, impaired cognitive function, or comorbidity were all associated with an elevated risk of mortality. Using these factors, we computed a weighted “risk score.” Because never smoking, never drinking, doing physical exercise, having an ideal diet, and a normal weight were independently associated with lower mortality, we also combined them to compute a weighted “protection score.” Both scores were divided into lowest, middle, and highest groups using their tertiles. In joint effect analyses, participants with the combined highest-risk score and lowest-protection score profile had a nearly threefold higher joint death risk. These analyses show that adherence to a healthy lifestyle counteracts the negative effect of risk factors on all-cause mortality in the oldest-old by more than 20%.