This consists of a clinical exam during which a doctor takes your pulse, your blood pressure, and listens to your heart. This exam is generally followed by an electrocardiogram. In certain cases, particularly if the doctor suspects a possible risk of angina or heart attack, they will ask for cardiac enzyme levels to be assessed.
These are generally part of a continued exam, performed by a cardiologist, but not necessarily at the same time: they consist of echocardiography, a Doppler ultrasound, a stress test, and a Holter monitor, in order to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure, and finally a scintigraphy, which allows measurement of the heart’s contractile function and the search for the presence of coronary disease.
These are basically radiology and heart rhythm exams, in particular coronary angiograms and His bundle measurements.
A lipid profile allows us to measure the levels of the different lipid compounds present in our blood, in order to evaluate the risk of cardiovascular disease. These are measured from a blood sample taken with an empty stomach. This profile allows us to monitor blood lipid levels, in particular cholesterol (including LDL and HDL cholesterol) and triglycerides.
High LDL cholesterol (‘bad cholesterol’) and triglyceride levels, as well as excessively low HDL cholesterol levels (‘good cholesterol’) are lipid abnormalities, and considered to be cardiovascular risk factors.
Lipid abnormalities, as well as high blood sugar levels, promote the growth of atheromatous plaques on the arterial walls. This is called atherosclerosis, which can lead to the complete obstruction of an artery.
Cholesterol, which is mainly produced by the liver, is also supplied by our diet. It travels into the organism’s cells as LDL cholesterol. When there are excessive amounts of LDL cholesterol in the blood, it deposits itself onto the arterial walls and obstructs blood flow. This is why LDL cholesterol is nicknamed’ bad cholesterol’. HDL cholesterol collects the excess cholesterol in the blood and brings it to the liver, which eliminates it. It therefore has a protective effect, and is nicknamed ‘good cholesterol’. Triglycerides, which are supplied by our diet, are stored in fat cells, and are used as an energy reserve by our organism. High levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, along with low HDL cholesterol levels, are the main lipid abnormalities. Each one of these increases the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, high levels of HDL cholesterol have a protective effect. HDL cholesterol levels higher than 0.4 g/L (>1.0 mmol/L) along with triglyceride levels below 1.5 g/L (<1.7 mmol/L) are considered ideal.
Blood sugar levels
Blood sugar levels with an empty stomach (after eight hours without eating) are a good indicator of our capacity to regulate a number of key hormones (insulin, glucagon, cortisol). Excessively high blood sugar levels can point to the risk of diabetes, and be a source of many illnesses (in the kidneys, eyes, nervous system) leading, among other issues, to the formation of sugar/protein bonds, also called Maillard reactions or glycation, which accelerate aging. Normal blood sugar levels are between 0.7 g/l and 1.1 g/l, (4.03 to 6 mmol/l).If you have high levels, we suggest you see your doctor, who will be able to recommend further testing.
Blood C-reactive protein (CRP) levels
C-reactive proteins, abbreviated as CRP, are produced by our liver and released into the blood during inflammation or infection. Blood levels of this protein increase quickly, in less than 24 hours, and remain as such until recovery. Normal CRP levels should be below 6 mg/L. They can be significantly increased in smokers, obese individuals and those who regularly drink alcohol.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
The erythrocyte sedimentation rate, abbreviated as ESR, is a non-specific test which is easy to perform and useful for the early diagnosis and monitoring of inflammatory or infectious phenomena, such as rheumatism. Along with CRP levels, this test allows us to better target inflammatory states, which are the main cause of DNA damage.
Normal erythrocyte sedimentation rate values:
ESR in the 1st hour < 7 mm
ESR in the 2nd hour < 20 mm
These values may vary depending on the technique used by the given medical analysis lab. It will be specified next to the results.
Complete blood count
A complete blood count or full blood count, most commonly abbreviated FBC, is an exam which is essential to properly diagnose any potential bone marrow problems, or detect so-called peripheral abnormalities. It offers valuable insight into the organs which produce blood cells, blood lines, defense processes and hemostasis (coagulation). It allows us to detect many pathologies: anemia, increased white blood cell counts in reaction to an attack, issues with coagulation and platelet consumption, etc.
Homocysteine levels indirectly indicate how well methylation– the process which activates or deactivates genes – is working. Homocysteine is a pro-inflammatory molecule which is produced when abnormal proteins are metabolized. The methylation process is responsible for the elimination of homocysteine when it reaches toxic levels; if high levels persist, this means that methylation is not doing its job properly. High levels of homocysteine also indicate a high risk of cardiovascular disease.
Functional intestinal flora exam
This is one of the key elements for the assessment of the health of your immune system. Ask your doctor for a functional analysis of your microbial flora.
This basic protocol – morphological data, functional tests, cardiovascular exam, biological tests- is more than adequate to properly respond to aging. Nevertheless, if you want to know more, there are a number of more sophisticated biomarkers.
Biomarkers of aging
For decades now, biogerontologists have been searching for a biomarker of aging which could measure our true biological age. This would be a better indicator of life expectancy than our chronological age. Such a biomarker would be a powerful tool, allowing us to assess the effectiveness of actions meant to modify our lifespan, without having to embark on large studies, which take many years, and are nearly impossible to carry out on human beings. Unfortunately, aging is a complex issue, as it involves many organs and functions. Due to this, we have no choice but to depend on a large array of biomarkers, which are specific to each function.
Biomarkers of oxidative stress
Oxidative stress is the result of an imbalance between, on the one hand, the production of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS), and on the other hand, the capacity of the organism’s protective mechanisms to neutralize these two types of toxic compounds before they cause any damage.
A blood test focusing on oxidative stress requires the selection of suitable biomarkers, a solid knowledge of the field and strong interpretative skills.
High MDA levels
Plasma malondialdehyde, abbreviated as MDA, is a marker of lipid oxidation, and is considered to be an end-product of polyunsaturated fat oxidation. High MDA levels therefore indicate oxidative stress, in particular lipid oxidation, which is a scientifically proven cardiovascular risk factor, but they are also evidence of more general oxidative stress in the organism (our brain, for example, is particularly lipid-rich).
Thiol protein levels are without doubt one of the most significant markers of oxidative stress. Only low thiol levels are significant. Thiol proteins, which contain a sulfur atom, act as exceptionally potent ‘buffers’ in the blood .During periods of significant oxidative stress, thiols restore ‘redox’ (reduction-oxidation) balance by eliminating free radicals .Thiols oxidize and are then eliminated; lowered thiol levels are therefore a marker of oxidative stress. Extremely low thiol levels are most often evidence of past and/or chronic oxidative stress. Low thiol levels are also considered an indirect marker of protein oxidation.
Urinary 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8OHdG) levels
8OHdG is a molecule which is eliminated in our urine. It is specific to oxidative attacks, and is easy to detect. A major European study has shown a strong correlation between lymphocyte 8OHdG levels and cardiovascular mortality in young men.
Urinary hormonal profile
From 30 to 70 years old, cortisol secretion increases by 50% while DHEA secretion decreases by 90%.The ratio of cortisol to DHEA is very useful.
Urinary pentosidine and furosine levels
Urinary levels increase with age and indicate glycation.
Today, we can precisely evaluate your dietary intolerances by using a blood test which will hunt down the IgG (Immunoglobulin G) type antibodies present in your blood. Every kind of food can be tested, and if your body treats it as an ‘antigen’, it will produce corresponding antibodies. In this way, certain labs can detect your intolerances from a selection of more than 300 foods (Imupro300).
Bone densitometry, also known as osteodensitometry or dual-energy absorptiometry, is a medical exam which measures bone density, that is, its mineral content. Low bone density is a strong indicator of the risk of fracture, whether for vertebral compression or hip fractures.
Bone mineral density (BMD) is expressed compared to an average of a normal population of the same age and sex, which makes it possible to assess bone condition compared to the given chronological age.
Analyzing telomere length is a key step, not only for scientific research, but also for individuals wishing to monitor how their telomeres evolve during a cellular regeneration protocol. Measuring telomeres for research requires very sophisticated, and therefore costly equipment. For individuals, the most important thing is to measure an average length of the shorter telomeres, rather than measure all of them. Why?
So long as telomeres are still present (down to around 5 000 base pairs) the cell continues to do its work and, more importantly, to divide, avoiding apoptosis and senescence. If we calculate the average of all telomeres, the results may be skewed as, on the one hand, certain cells multiply very frequently, meaning that their telomeres shorten more quickly, and on the other hand, within any given cell family, shortening rates are completely different. Only measuring short telomeres allows us to indirectly evaluate the amount of senescent cells. We suggest you perform this test once a year to evaluate your progress. For now, the only lab which offers this test is in Madrid (www.lifelength.com).