X-ray of longevity in Latin America: what are the factors that threaten healthy aging

X-ray of longevity in Latin America: what are the factors that threaten healthy aging

Since Eating healthy to be able to handle stress. From sleeping well more than 7 hours to not consuming tobacco products. Since Lower alcohol exposure to regular physical activity, such as walking or dancing, and participating in social gatherings. These are some of the recommendations that They serve to live longer and achieve healthy aging.

In the Latin American and Caribbean region, there will soon be more long-lived people. The proportion of people over 60 will increase to 18% over the next 10 years, as projected by the Pan American Health Organization. It is estimated that by 2030 there will be more people over the age of 60 than under the age of 15.

By 2050, the largest will be even more: between 25% and 30% of the region’s population. That transition will occur in 35 years, just half the time that occurred in the United States and Canada. The fastest growing region in the number of older people is Africa, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean and then Asia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Also Other data are known about life expectancy, how long people live in poor health and how the pandemic affected:

Life expectancy for both sexes increased in the region from 48.6 years in 1950 to 75.1 years in 2019, according to a PAHO report.

– The percentage of time lived with poor health in men at age 60 at the regional level was 24.5% in 2000 and 26% in 2019. Almost all countries had a higher percentage of life expectancy in poor health in 2019 than in 2000. The Argentina and Barbados recorded a lower percentage of life expectancy with poor health in 2019.

– The percentage of time lived with poor health in women at age 60 was 26.4% in 2000 and 27.7% in 2019. As in the case of men, almost all countries presented in 2019 a higher percentage of life expectancy with poor health than in 2000, except the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Colombia and Mexico, with minimal differences, and Peru, with an equal percentage in 2000 and 2019.

– The coronavirus pandemic affected life expectancy in the region. It was a 2.9-year setback in 2021 versus 2019. But Life expectancy is expected to continue to increase in the future and reach 77.2 years by 2030, according to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

“That people live longer has been a great progress, but the current challenge is to ensure that the vast majority of these years are lived with more health, and, for this, it is necessary to work throughout the entire course of life,” said the health agency led by the Brazilian public health expert. Jarbas Barbosa.

But achieving healthy aging depends not only on the individual but on society as a whole. Therefore, within the framework of the activities for the Decade of Healthy Aging (2021-2030), PAHO stressed that it is key to provide age-friendly environments and integrated, person-centered health care, with emphasis on primary care.

“Healthy aging refers to the maintenance of cognitive abilities and the ability to carry out everyday tasks while advancing in years,” he explained to Infobae The Doctor Agustín Ibáñez, researcher in neurosciences of the Conicet of Argentina, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez of Chile and Trinity College Dublin of Ireland.

“It does not simply refer to not having diseases but that it is essential to preserve mental capacities such as memory, reasoning and learning, and social skills as cooperation and interaction,” the scientist added.

“The ability to perform everyday activities, such as shopping or performing common tasks, is critical. The relationship between cognition and functionality is vital in this process, since it allows older adults to have a full and autonomous life,” said Dr. Ibáñez, who has just published a study on the factors associated with healthy aging in Latin America in the journal Nature Medicine along with researchers from Colombia, Peru, the United States, the United Kingdom and Chile.

The study revealed that, unlike high-income regions where age and gender predominantly drive aging, Latin American countries are different. There are 3 main factors that have a major influence on the healthy aging of the population.

The factors are social determinants of health—including variables of income, profession, education, and social isolation—mental health symptoms, and cardiometabolic risks, such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disorders.

The team of scientists – also included Hernando Santamaría-García, Agustín Sainz-Ballesteros, Hernán Hernandez, Sebastián Moguilner, Marcelo Maito, Carolina Ochoa-Rosales, and Brian Lawlor, among others- used the “machine learning” tool (or “machine learningto analyze data from 44,394 participants from Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay.

Disparities prevail in Latin America. “Our study shows that healthy aging declines markedly if the country has a low-income average. In countries like Colombia, where mental health is more compromised – especially in more disadvantaged populations – this factor has a priority influence on aging,” said Ibáñez.

Regarding people’s functionality, “the combination of mental health symptoms, cardiometabolic history and lack of physical activity are factors that vary according to socioeconomic level and influence differently in the region,” he added.

When consulted by Infobae, Fernando Taragano, professor, doctor of mental health, neuropsychiatrist and member of the Argentine Association of Psychiatrists, considered that the “study is important because its objective was to evaluate the most determining risk factors in consideration of healthy aging and clearly identified them. It is intimately conditioned by general mental health, education, physical activity and cardiac factors.”

There is another contribution, said Taragano, “that continues to impress, and that is the difference between Latin American countries according to their economic income. But not everything is reduced to economic income because when comparing countries with similar incomes such as Costa Rica and China, it is observed that the geosocial distribution style also impacts healthy aging: the population of Costa Rica is doing better. All of these factors influence healthy aging more than age and sex.”

Mental health in general “is more threatened in the region when compared to other parts of the world in the same way that cardiometabolic health is,” he said.

“Healthy aging is the possibility of improving the quality of life in people through adequate control of risk factors and protective factors throughout life against deterioration in old age. Today we live longer and better and we must do better and better,” he told Infobae The Doctor Ricardo Allegri, researcher in neurosciences of the Conicet and head of the department of Cognitive Neurology, Neuropsychology and Neuropsychiatry of the Instituto Fleni in Buenos Aires.

Latin America It has a heterogeneous risk factor profile according to the regions and even within each country. “Today the development of artificial intelligence and the management of machine learning and data science is very interesting, but we run the risk of confusing needs and risks and globalizing them, which loses effect potential actions,” said Allegri.

“Risk and protective factors need to be studied taking into account particular regions, ethnicities and cultures to properly interpret genetics and epigenetics otherwise they are just data,” he said.

“I share with the authors of the study published in Nature Medicine the need to work in Latin America on the factors associated with healthy aging to improve the quality of life of adult populations without losing sight of regional particularities,” said Allegri.


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