WHAT IS AGING?

What is aging?

That question has been central to philosophy and medicine for ages and remains at the frontier of medicine today. There are several inconsistent answers, each correct. Experts agree, however that “biological aging” is a highly complex process with many different events and pathways likely to be involved. The most popular mechanisms by which aging occurs include:

  • Cell senescence and telomere shortening,
  • Environmental and oxidative stress,
  • The influence of nutrient availability on the biological pathways that control cell division and metabolism.

The last mechanism includes imbalance of brain energetics which is a main hypothesis in our approach to the diagnosis and treatment of AD.

AGING AND LIFESPAN, AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP

Aging and lifespan, and their relationship

 

During the last quarter of the 20th Century, life expectancy increased at a pace of 2.5 years per 10 years, or six hours per day . (Oeppen J, Vaupel JW. Science 2002; 296: 1029‐1031). However, the character of the health condition is not monotonic. There are two distinct phases: aging that starts at 20-30, and deterioration (det), that starts around 65 and ends with an unavoidable death (Fig.1 below).

FIG-1b

Fig. 1 Depicts the two phases of the lifespan.

 

At present, the majority of people get a wakeup call about their health condition around age 55-65, despite the real possibility of the diagnosis of many important conditions at the age of 30. For example, the predilection to Alzheimer’s Disease can be determined at the age of 20 with the probability of 85%.

 

There is a consensus that modern medicine extends the lifespan. However, when the diagnosis is performed at the age of 65, a medical intervention extends the deterioration triangle. It means that the extension of life is equivalent to the extension of suffering (Fig. 2 below).

 

FIG-2b

Fig. 2 Traditional medicine increases survival (extends deterioration phase) without affecting the onset of deterioration. Modified from M.V.Blagosklonny, Aging, vol2(4),2010.

 

One can create a much better scenario if using an early diagnosis. The anti-aging intervention extends the period of aging, producing “slow aging.” Even when the deterioration period is the same as in the case of the lack of aging slowing action, the lifespan expends in a comfortable manner (Fig. 3 below).

 

FIG-3b

Fig. 3 Action of slow aging extends the lifespan without increasing the deterioration period.

 

 

Modern System Medicine predicts that in the scenario with a very slow aging, depicted in Figure 3, the actual period of deterioration will be significantly shorter than in the case presented in Figure 2. This might be an additional positive feature of the early diagnosis and slow aging treatment.

WHEN TO START TO TAKE CARE OF AGING AND PREVENTING AD?

When to start to take care of aging and preventing AD?

Our intuition says that “the sooner the better.” Actually, we start to age soon after we cease to grow. If we treat aging as a disease and the anti-aging activities as a treatment, we can arrive at the relationship shown in Figure 4.

 

FIG-4b

Fig. 4 A nomogram that relates the effect size and age of starting treatment to life expectancy at birth.

 

To achieve a life expectancy at birth of 100 years, and assuming treatment starts from the age of 20 years, the rate of aging would need to be reduced by 30%. If treatment is postponed to the age of 70, it would take a reduction in the rate of aging of 97%.

Figure 4 is based on Aubrey de Grey’s (Cambridge University) theory of aging. Although the theory remains highly controversial, the qualitative features (i.e. when one neglects numbers on both axes) bear true relationships.

 

Two components of aging care.

There are two components of aging care: understanding of the aging process, and financial resources.

 

The standard of health care is usually determined by belonging to a specific social class. Traditionally, the model of social structure that can be adopted in Europe can be modeled on English social stratification, presented in Table 1.

 

Table 1

Class     Occupation
A Higher managerial, administrative or professional
B Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional
C1 Supervisory or clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional
C2 Skilled manual workers
D Semi and unskilled manual workers
E Casual or lowest grade workers, pensioners and others who depend on the state for their income

 

The life expectancy for such stratified society is shown in Figure 5 below.

 

FIG-5b 

Fig. 5 Monotonic increase of life expectancy in the last quarter of the 20th Century in England for all social classes. There is an increasing gap of 2-5 years of life expectancy between Class A and Class E.

 

After: Trends in male life expectancy at age 65, 1972 – 2001, England & Wales for Classes A-E. Adapted from A. Gallop, UK Government Actuary Department, 2005.

CONCULSION

Conclusion

  • The lifespan can be divided into two parts: aging and a subsequent period of deterioration,
  • The slow aging not only increases the overall lifespan, but also decreases an often painful period of deterioration,
  • To make the aging process slow, and at the same time to extend the lifespan, it is necessary to reach some level of health education and designate some portion of personal income for health monitoring and prevention,
  • Health monitoring and prevention requires everyday personal effort. The institutionalized health care (which includes also healthcare provided by the state) should help in organizing computerized health networking enabling (live) physician diagnosis and monitoring.