Does a Severe Disease Such As Myocardial Infarction, Stroke or Diabetes Alter the Rate of Ageing?

Roland Rau, University of Rostock & Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Marcus Ebeling, University of Rostock & Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Karin Modig, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet
Anders Ahlbom, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet

Diseases and deaths have been postponed to higher ages over time. However, whether
or not the rate of ageing is alterable remains an open question. The rate of ageing can be
defined as the relative increase of mortality with age. By focusing on specific diseases,
we ask: Are their specific diseases in the human disease spectrum which alter the human rate of aging and how does the rate of ageing change after being diagnosed with
a severe disease? Using myocardial infarction, stroke and diabetes, we test this using
Swedish register data for the 1927-1930 birth cohorts. We create subgroups within these
cohorts of those having experienced a disease and compare their death rates with that
of the total population of these cohorts as well as the respective disease free population.
Preliminary findings indicate that after an initial increase in the death rate, the subgroup
having experienced any of the three diagnoses follow the same rate of increase with age
as the total population, although at a higher level. That is, individuals experiencing a
chronic condition seem to increase their level of mortality but the aging rate seems to be
the same among diseased as well as among the non-diseased population. Our results
do not suggest in any way that a sever disease event alters the rate of ageing among the
affected individuals.

Presented in Session 1174: Health, Wellbeing, and Morbidity