How one should live in middle-age to increase longevity and have many years of healthy life?

Sustained good health and longevity are very important dimensions of good life to most of us. In the last 100 years, life expectancy has increased in Finland from 50 years to 73-80 years. The greatest disease burden in Europe comes from non-communicable diseases (NCD), a group of conditions that includes for example cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, mental health problems, and type 2 diabetes. WHO published recently a strategy to promote a comprehensive and integrated approach for tackling NCD. The goal of this strategy is to avoid premature death and significantly reduce disease burden from NCD, improving quality of life and making healthy life expectancy more equitable within and between Member States in Europe (WHO, 2007). Key messages of the strategy are prevention of chronic disease throughout a life and encourage people to be empowered to promote their own health, interact effectively with health services, and be active partners in managing disease.












Although risk factors of chronic diseases are quite well known, much less is known how one should live in middle-age to avoid chronic diseases longer.

In Finland we share the global lack of deeper understanding regarding possibility of middle-aged subject to make efficient but easy choices that increase the number of health years. It is well known that smoking and obesity shorten your life but is it more efficient to quit smoking or lose weight? It is still unknown whether it is more important to live healthy (i.e. eat well, maintain healthy body weight) or does majority of the population have such genetic heritage that way of life does not count.

Healthy ageing is a new approach in the KIHD and FIND Studies. Main aim of the ELINA Study is to answer questions mentioned earlier, what should middle-aged people do to increase longevity and years of health life?

The project will provide more knowledge on the relationship between lifestyle and psychological factors, health and well-being, and evidence of the importance of lifestyle and mood in helping to prevent diet-related diseases and contribute to healthy ageing of the population in Europe.




Here is Sari's grandma Hanna Vartiainen, who has been fishing all her life and eaten huge amounts of fish from Lake Kiurujärvi.

She was 93 years old when this picture was taken and still lives at the countryside... So, maybe fish is good for your longevity also...









Our aims are:

to study how one should live in middle-age (like nutrition, exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, weight control, life attitude, sense of coherence and stress) to increase years of healthy life in elderly and to study the association between those factors and regular use of medication in older. Elina Project will also strengthen knowledge about hereditary, environmental and social determinants of health and examine inequality of health, i.e. why some risk factors seem to be stronger in certain sub-populations.

Instead of applying only a disease-centred approach, this project emphasizes on early intervention before the onset of disease hazards. Linkage to the national health registries will enable analysing morbidity, mortality and use of medication in the study populations. We will use the National Death Registry in collaboration with the Statistics Finland for the mortality data, the Hospital Discharge Registry (HILMO) from Stakes to detect acute health events occurring in the cohort during the follow-up. Information on use of medication will be obtained from the nationwide Drug Prescription Registry maintained by the Social Insurance Institution.

We base our study on the following hypotheses:

1. Middle-aged individuals can make a difference on their life-long health and the public health expenditure by attainable life-style choices;

2. the diet, life-style, health biomarkers and perceived quality of life at middle age will predict the use of chronic medication in the elderly; and

3. the health benefits of different chronic medications vary dependent on the dietary and life-style habits of the individual in question.

More information: sari.voutilainen at