|LISBON, July 17,2018-- The Portuguese elderly population has lowest levels of health, compared to other European countries, according to "the largest study" on aging in Europe published on Monday by the University of Coimbra (UC).
Preliminary results from DO-HEALTH, the largest European study on aging, looking for ways to improve the health of people aged over 70, conclude that "from an initial clinical point of view," only 9 percent of the elderly in Portugal are considered healthy, said the UC in a statement.
The figure is followed by 37 percent of the elderly are considered healthy in France, 38 percent in Germany, 51 percent in Switzerland and 58 percent in Austria.
Overall, 42 percent of the 2,157 participants in the study were "considered to be healthy seniors," according to the same study, which involves more than 50 researchers from seven university centers in Germany, Austria, France, Portugal and Switzerland.
Portuguese participation involved a group of researchers from the University Clinic of Rheumatology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra (FMUC), led by Jose Antonio Pereira da Silva.
Researchers from the project, which started in 2012 and is coordinated by Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, a professor at the University of Zurich, consider "healthy seniors to be seniors who do not have chronic diseases and have good physical and mental health."
Over a three-year clinical trial, participants were asked to complete "three times a week simple exercise plan at home and take daily vitamin D and/or omega 3 fatty acids and/or a placebo", to asses the effect of vitamin D, omega 3 and physical exercise on the cognitive as well as physical health of the elderly.
The data collected will be "analyzed in order to determine the effects of these three interventions on five main areas: fracture risk, lower limb muscle function, cognitive function, blood pressure and infection rate".
The information obtained makes it possible to design "strategies that enable older people to live a more active and healthy life", explained Pereira da Silva.
Regarding possible causes, although they have yet to be assessed in the study, Pereira da Silva believes that "there is a whole set of social resources that have an effect on the health of the elderly, ranging from the value of pensions to the ease of access to health."
"There is also one factor that I assume to be very important, which is the level of education," he said.