Cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle behaviours in relation to longevity: a Mendelian randomization study

S. van Oort*, J. W.J. Beulens, A. J. van Ballegooijen, S. Burgess, S. C. Larsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The American Heart Association introduced the Life's Simple 7 initiative to improve cardiovascular health by modifying cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle behaviours. It is unclear whether these risk factors are causally associated with longevity. Objectives: This study aimed to investigate causal associations of Life's Simple 7 modifiable risk factors, as well as sleep and education, with longevity using the two-sample Mendelian randomization design. Methods: Instrumental variables for the modifiable risk factors were obtained from large-scale genome-wide association studies. Data on longevity beyond the 90th survival percentile were extracted from a genome-wide association meta-analysis with 11,262 cases and 25,483 controls whose age at death or last contact was ≤ the 60th survival percentile. Results: Risk factors associated with a lower odds of longevity included the following: genetic liability to type 2 diabetes (OR 0.88; 95% CI: 0.84;0.92), genetically predicted systolic and diastolic blood pressure (per 1-mmHg increase: 0.96; 0.94;0.97 and 0.95; 0.93;0.97), body mass index (per 1-SD increase: 0.80; 0.74;0.86), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (per 1-SD increase: 0.75; 0.65;0.86) and smoking initiation (0.75; 0.66;0.85). Genetically increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (per 1-SD increase: 1.23; 1.08;1.41) and educational level (per 1-SD increase: 1.64; 1.45;1.86) were associated with a higher odds of longevity. Fasting glucose and other lifestyle factors were not significantly associated with longevity. Conclusion: Most of the Life's Simple 7 modifiable risk factors are causally related to longevity. Prevention strategies should focus on modifying these risk factors and reducing education inequalities to improve cardiovascular health and longevity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-243
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Internal Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

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