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Abe Vigoda's Vitality Far Outlasted Reports of His Death

Abe Vigoda's Vitality Far Outlasted Reports of His Death
(Copyright AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 26 January 2016 04:47 PM

The legendary actor Abe Vigoda, who died at the age of 94, some 33 years after his death was first falsely reported, was most likely was the beneficiary of good genes that kept him healthy into old age, a top doctor says. But his active lifestyle was also probably a factor.

“Abe Vigoda died for the best reason – he got old. Most likely he was given the best gift of all by his parents – good genes,” Dr. Marc Leavey tells Newsmax Health.

Vigoda died in his sleep of old age, his daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs, said, telling the Associated Press, “This man was never sick.” 

In terms of good health, Vigoda had an active lifestyle working in his favor, notes Dr. Leavey. Indeed, although Vigoda played a beleaguered looking character in his most famous role, that of Det. Sgt. Phil Fish, he was an athletic man who landed his Barney Miller role following a five-mile jog. He was also an avid handball player for most of his life as well.

Vigoda also worked constantly, beginning his career in 1949 and continuing through  his recent appearances on the Conan O’Brien show.  Such longevity, coupled with vitality, is the hallmark of a person who has inherited good genetics,  says Dr. Leavey, an internist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

“I have people who are in their late 80s and 90s who are still active, who are driving their cars, and who are often still working. If you look at them, you’d say they are in their mid-60s or 70s and they are 92 or 93,” Dr. Leavey says.

One factor is simply that people are living longer, notes Dr. Leavey.  Just this week, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control report noted that, while centenarians are sill uncommon, the number of Americans above the age of 100 has increased more than 43 percent, from 50,281 a decade and a half ago to 72,197 in 2014. 

In addition, a study reported last year found that most people who do live to such an advanced age succumb to pneumonia or “general frailty,” as opposed to such chronic diseases as cancer or heart disease.

 “More people are living into their 90s and 100s, but the question isn’t only how they manage to live so long, but why some people die so young. That’s really the flip side of the same question, and the answer is that it’s often how you are genetically determined. Genetics plays a huge role in that,” Dr. Leavey says.

“You can make things better or worse by what you do, but consider legends like George Burns, Irving Berlin or Eubie Blake.  Eubie Blake lived past 100, and he smoked, and he drank, but he still lived a very long life,” says Dr. Leavey, referring to the ragtime composer who died at the age of 101.

But the fact that people are living longer should not give ordinary Americans the license to ignore their own health habits, says Dr. Leavey.

“In determining how long you might live, you need to look at both your parents. If they are still alive, then you have to ask yourself how they’re doing, and if they aren’t, you need to factor in how old they were when they died and did they have any preventable illnesses. If they did, then you have to take this factor into account, and take steps to prevent such ailments,” Dr. Leavey says.

"A good genetic history helps but it doesn’t remove the goal of living a healthy lifestyle, it just makes it easier to cheat a little,” adds Dr. Leavey.

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The legendary actor Abe Vigoda, who died at the age of 94, more than three decades after his death was first falsely reported, was most likely was the beneficiary of good genes that gave him a long life, as well as an active lifestyle, a top doctor says.
Abe, Vigoda, death, Old, Age, genetics
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 04:47 PM
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