This study aimed to explore the prognosis of very old people depending on their cardiovascular disease (CVD) history. This observational prospective cohort study included 570 participants aged 85 years from the general population with 5-year follow-up for morbidity, functional status, and mortality. At baseline, participants were assigned to three groups: no CVD history, “minor” CVD (angina pectoris, transient ischemic attack, intermittent claudication, and/or heart failure), or “major” CVD (myocardial infarction [MI], stroke, and/or arterial surgery). Follow-up data were collected on MI, stroke, functional status, and cause-specific mortality. The composite endpoint included cardiovascular events (MI or stroke) and cardiovascular mortality. At baseline, 270 (47.4 %) participants had no CVD history, 128 (22.4 %) had minor CVD, and 172 (30.2 %) had major CVD. Compared to the no CVD history group, the risk of the composite endpoint increased from 1.6 (95 % confidence interval [CI], 1.1–2.4) for the minor CVD group to 2.7 (95 % CI, 2.0–3.9) for the major CVD group. Similar trends were observed for cardiovascular and all-cause mortality risks. In a direct comparison, the major CVD group had a nearly doubled risk of the composite endpoint (hazard ratio, 1.8; 95 % CI, 1.2–2.7), compared to the minor CVD group. Both minor and major CVD were associated with an accelerated decline in cognitive function and accelerated increase of disability score (all p < 0.05), albeit most pronounced in participants with major CVD. CVD disease status in very old age is still of important prognostic value: a history of major CVD (mainly MI or stroke) leads to a nearly doubled risk of poor outcome, including cardiovascular events, functional decline, and mortality, compared with a history of minor CVD.