Why did Henry Kissinger live so long?


On November 29, local time, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger passed away at his home in Connecticut at the age of 100. Four months after completing his last visit to China on July 8, he finally reached the end of his life.

In 1923, Henry Kissinger was born in Fürth, Bavaria, Germany. In this small town, there was a Jewish community. Kissinger's parents' families belong to the typical Jewish middle class, and his father is a well-respected middle school teacher. Kissinger was active in world politics for more than fifty years from 1969 when he served as national security adviser in the Nixon administration until his death.

At 12:15 on July 9, 1971, the plane taking Kissinger and others landed at Nanyuan Airport on time, becoming the first American official to come to China.

On July 18, 2023, Kissinger dragged his centenarian body and took a 15-hour flight to China again. This old friend, who has pushed successive U.S. governments to pursue proactive policies toward China and promoted the normalization of Sino-U.S. relations, completed his last visit to China.

Henry Kissinger died at the age of 100, a long life by any standards. But what many people don't know is that this old man who was still active in world politics not long ago is actually a patient who has suffered from major cardiovascular disease.

In 1982, 60-year-old Kissinger underwent the first clearly documented coronary artery bypass surgery. With the support of extracorporeal circulation, he completed the establishment of three bridges.

In 2000, 77-year-old Kissinger suffered a sudden non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction and recovered after conservative treatment with drugs.

In 2005, 82-year-old Kissinger underwent percutaneous coronary angioplasty to deal with problems with the bypass graft in 1982.

In 2014, 91-year-old Kissinger underwent aortic valve replacement surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in the United States to replace an aging heart artery valve.

Dr. Kissinger lived with heart disease for at least forty years until his death.

However, this old man who has gone through the Cold War completely and has maintained extremely high work intensity for a long time has extremely unhealthy living habits.

In August 2022, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) jointly proposed the "Life's Essential 8", which covers daily life, living, diet, food, as well as ideal blood sugar, Blood pressure, blood lipids, weight and other aspects. In order to protect our common cardiovascular health with this simple, easy-to-implement and accessible lifestyle.

However, the long-lived Kissinger violated almost all of the above rules. Kissinger's favorite foods were Bratwurst (a German sausage made from pork) and Wiener Schnitzel (Viennese schnitzel). His lifestyle habits include staying up late, drinking, and frying food. The only hobby may be playing chess (if that counts as a sport).

It can be said that Henry Kissinger can be regarded as a negative example of longevity. He is a well-known figure on the international political stage. But in addition to undergoing multiple heart surgeries, Kissinger also had to wear hearing aids in both ears, was blind in his right eye, and suffered from osteoporosis, stroke and other physical problems.

When outsiders speculated on the secret of his longevity, Kissinger once jokingly responded: "My only secret may be a good reincarnation."

But this may not be just a joke. In 2022, a research team from the FIMM Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Helsinki in Finland published a study in Nature Medicine, a sub-journal of the top journal Nature, showing that at the group level, it is associated with certain important modifiable risk factors (such as high-sodium diet and low-sodium diet). Compared with physical activity), some common genetic variants have a similar impact on years of healthy life. And this means that genetic factors have a significant impact on health.

In fact, the Kissinger family does generally have the characteristic of longevity. Except for himself, who is still in his prime, Kissinger's mother lived to be 97 years old, and his father lived to be 95 years old. However, this does not mean that we should follow Kissinger’s unhealthy lifestyle habits. Although Dr. Kissinger may be able to reach the age of 100 thanks to his family’s healthy genes, for most people, positive Adjusting lifestyle still has its value. Even the above-mentioned research specifically mentioned that the impact of adjusting variable factors such as diet, work and rest, smoking, drinking, blood pressure, blood lipids, etc. is actually greater than the effect of genetic factors.

As a well-known international affairs expert and scholar, his work intensity has always been very high. Even when he was close to a hundred years old, he still worked 15 hours a day, which was harder than many 40-year-olds. This kind of high-intensity Working status allows him to maintain his brain sharpness and thinking ability. More importantly, many of Kissinger's friends have emphasized his extremely healthy life mentality during his long-term exploration work. Compared with unadjustable genetic factors, this influencing factor may be more worthy of our attention.

Many studies have now found that people who face mental illness, such as schizophrenia or depression, live shorter lives than those who are mentally healthy. In fact, the Mental Health Foundation reports that schizophrenia triples the risk of dying from respiratory disease and doubles the risk of dying from heart disease. Depression increases a person's risk of dying from cancer by 50% and from heart disease by 67%. From this point of view, mental health status has a very important impact on life span.

On May 25 this year, two days before Kissinger’s 100th birthday, his son David Kissinger published an article in the Washington Post titled “Kissinger’s Centenary Father” Singer's Guide to Longevity" can be roughly boiled down to two points: curiosity and a sense of mission.

According to a meta-analysis of 200 articles from Harvard University, optimism can promote cardiovascular health and reduce the rate of disease progression. "Positivity is not the absence of negative beliefs," says author Julia Boehm. "We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness were associated with lower psychological well-being when age, socioeconomic status, smoking status, or weight were not considered. The risk of vascular disease." Baum also said that the most optimistic people had a 50% lower risk of a first episode of cardiovascular disease compared with those who were less optimistic.

Henry Alfred Kissinger, who died at the age of 100, and Charles Thomas Munger, who died at the age of 99, these names that once attracted countless attention around the world passed away one after another. Carter, a former good man from Mei Renzong, also recently received hospice care. We may not be able to replicate their life experiences, but retaining a good emotion may allow us to travel through a long enough time and see more of the world.