Microcirculation and Longevity

Microcirculation Promotes a Long and Healthy Life

Microcirculation is a network of blood vessels that provide tissues and organs with essential nutrients and oxygen for their maintenance, activities, and survival, while also cleansing the body’s waste products [1]. Therefore, a better microcirculation is key for longer and healthier life, and its impairment can lead to premature deaths [2][3].

Why Do Nonagenarians and Centenarians Have a Better Circulation?

Several studies identified a link between longevity and microcirculation by investigating the physiological particularities of nonagenarians and centenarians in different areas and countries on our planet [4][5][6]. They found that the most shared characteristic of these limited groups of age is associated with an improved microcirculation that depended on lifestyles, such as physical activity, socioeconomic status, and qualitative food nutrients.

How Does Physical Activity Improve Microcirculation Older Subjects?

A positive correlation between longevity and the maintenance of exercise capacity was found in centenarians. Exercise capacity is measured as the maximal oxygen consumption in response to an exercise test. This capacity declines by 10-15% per decade between the ages of 50 and 75 years [7]. Interestingly, this capacity was reported as one of the mechanisms responsible for successful aging in extremely old subjects [8].

1- How Does Muscle Blood Flow Affect Exercise capacity?

Microcirculation brings nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, including the heart, and a decline in exercise capacity will result in a maldistribution of these necessary nutrients leading to cardiovascular disorders and muscle loss in muscles [7].

For instance, several studies showed that centenarians have better cardiovascular risk profiles compared to younger old people [12]. These profiles are associated with reduced risks of hypertension, lower lipid profiles such as elevated cholesterol, and inflammation, which can all affect the maintenance and function of microcirculation vasculature and maximal oxygen consumption, through physiopathological mechanisms that are specific to each of those disorders.

2- How Does Pulmonary Function Affect Exercise Capacity?

Exercise and physical activity increase pulmonary activity resulting in increased consumption of oxygen (exercise capacity) that is required for aerobic mitochondria activity within tissues and organs, such as the brain. The study investigated the performance of the pulmonary function in centenarians and found that the gradient of oxygen transfer from the pulmonary alveoli to the artery is higher in centenarians compared to younger subjects [7][9].

What is the link between Socioeconomic Status and Improved Microcirculation?

A study showed that low socioeconomic status is a key determinant of health problems that arise at an older age. Although the study investigated several factors such as gender, ethnicity, educational attainment, and long-term health conditions, it also showed that low socioeconomic status has greater adverse changes in physical capability and physiological function (e.g., lung function) which can lead to health problems at an older age [10]. This is not surprising as physical capability, and physiological function has been shown to promote microcirculation [7][9].

How Does Food Improve Microcirculation?

Mediterranean diet relies on the consumption of starchy food such as pasta and bread, vegetables and fruit, seafood such as fish, and oils that are obtained from vegetables, plants, and fruit oils, such as olive oil.

A study showed that the reduction of microvascular activity observed during aging can be reversed through a combination of a Mediterranean diet and exercise [11]. For instance, dietary nitrate (e.g., found in beetroot, watercress, and spinach), Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty (e.g., found in certain fish, and antioxidants (e.g., found in tomatoes and carrots) have been shown to significantly affect the number and function of circulating angiogenic cells that generate the microcirculation vasculature [12].

However, other types of diets such as the ones used in regions of Japan, where there are populations of nonagenarians and centenarians, also comprise qualitative food nutrients that have been shown to promote microcirculation and longevity.


Microcirculation is necessary for the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to tissues and organs of the body. Its maintenance is influenced by several factors such as physical activity, socioeconomic status, and diet. In nonagenarians and centenarians, microcirculation is highly maintained and shows a great performance that was demonstrated by several studies around the Mediterranean contours, in Japan, and in other regions of the globe where these categories of advanced aging populations are found the most.


[1]J. P. R. Moore, A. Dyson, M. Singer, J. Fraser, Microcirculatory dysfunction and resuscitation: why, when, and how, BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia, Volume 115, Issue 3, September 2015, Pages 366–375, https://doi.org/10.1093/bja/aev163

[2]LeBlanc, Amanda J., and James B. Hoying. “Adaptation of the coronary microcirculation in aging.” Microcirculation 23.2 (2016): 157-167.

[3]Rizzoni, Damiano, et al. “Vascular aging and disease of the small vessels.” High Blood Pressure & Cardiovascular Prevention (2019): 1-7.

[4]Daniels, Lori B., et al. “Cardiovascular health of nonagenarians in southern Italy: a cross-sectional, home-based pilot study of longevity.” Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine 21.2 (2020): 89-98.

[5]Pizza, Vincenzo, et al. “Cognitive Health of Nonagenarians in Southern Italy: A Descriptive Analysis from a Cross-Sectional, Home-Based Pilot Study of Exceptional Longevity (Cilento Initiative on Aging Outcomes Or CIAO).” Medicina 56.5 (2020): 218.

[6]Willcox, Bradley J., et al. “Siblings of Okinawan centenarians share lifelong mortality advantages.” The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 61.4 (2006): 345-354.

[7] Galioto, A., Dominguez, L.J., Pineo, A., Ferlisi, A., Putignano, E., Belvedere, M., Costanza, G. and Barbagallo, M., 2008. Cardiovascular risk factors in centenarians. Experimental Gerontology43(2), pp.106-113.

[8] Venturelli, M., Schena, F. and Richardson, R.S., 2012. The role of exercise capacity in the health and longevity of centenarians. Maturitas73(2), pp.115-120.

[9] Jeune, B., Skytthe, A., Cournil, A., Greco, V., Gampe, J., Berardelli, M., Andersen-Ranberg, K., Passarino, G., DeBenedictis, G. and Robine, J.M., 2006. Handgrip strength among nonagenarians and centenarians in three European regions. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences61(7), pp.707-712.

[10] Steptoe, A. and Zaninotto, P., 2020. Lower socioeconomic status and the acceleration of aging: An outcome-wide analysis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences117(26), pp.14911-14917.

[11] Ross, M.D., 2018. Endothelial regenerative capacity and aging: influence of diet, exercise and obesity. Current cardiology reviews14(4), pp.233-244.

[12] Suzuki, M., Wilcox, B.J. and Wilcox, C.D., 2001. Implications from and for food cultures for cardiovascular disease: longevity. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition10(2), pp.165-171.

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