A total of 1712 men aged 40 to 59 years in two rural cohorts of northern and central Italy have been followed up for 25 years after an entry examination in 1960. Forty one individual characteristics have been considered as possible predictors of death in the next 25 years. After exclusion of 55 men with life threatening diseases (cardiovascular and cancer) and of 161 men because of missing measurements, 1495 men have been analysed for relation between entry factors and subsequent death (n = 670). Twelve factors eventually emerged as powerful predictors of future death: in hierarchical order, age, blood pressure, forced expiratory volume, cigarette smoking, xanthelasma, mother life-status, arm circumference, father life-status, shoulder-pelvis ratio, vital capacity, arcus senilis, and serum cholesterol. Discrimination as provided by logistic modelling placed 19.6% of all cases in the upper decile of the estimated risk, 36.8% in the upper quintile, 2.5% in the lowest decile, and 7.1% in the lowest quintile. Out of those located in the lowest decile of risk, 11.4% died within 25 years while the corresponding percentage in the upper decile was 87.3%. Use of the Cox model yielded slightly better coefficients than logistic function.
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