The Aging Timepiece:

Accelerated Aging, Mortality Rates, & Chronic Diseases

‘‘Aging is the #1 risk factor for most major chronic diseases’’

Over the past 150 years, life expectancy has significantly increased, but not all of the additional years are spent in good health.[1] 

Aging is a natural and progressive physiological process characterized by the gradual deterioration of tissue and cellular functions. 

This age-related decline in bodily functions is the main risk factors to various diseases, such as neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular ailments, metabolic disorders, musculoskeletal conditions, and immune system impairments.[2].

The Aging-Related Diseases Include:

  • Atherosclerosis
    Vascular aging referred to aging induced structural and functional changes that occur in vasculature.
    Senescent endothelial cells produce more endothelin-1 and less nitric oxide, resulting in inflammation and reduced blood vessel dilation. This compromised functioning of the endothelial cells leads to vascular aging and atherosclerosis.
  • Heart failure (HF)
    Currently, over 64 million patients worldwide have HF,[3] and HF is a growing area of interest.
    Studies have suggested that cardiac aging is a critical risk factor for impaired cardiac function and the progression of HF[4].
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM)
    The incidence of T2DM is growing rapidly for people over the age of 65.[5] In T2DM, and an increased number of senescent β-cells  leads to β-cell dysfunction, which impairs insulin secretion and the homeostasis of glucose and lipid metabolism, hence the pathogenesis of T2DM.
  • Alzheimer’s disease & Parkinson’s disease
    Alzheimer’s disease(AD) is a progressive neurological disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior in elderly individuals. AD commonly occurs in individuals 60 years of age and older whereby Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative disease with movement disorder in elderly individuals.
    When DNA damage exceeds the repair capacity as we age, mistranslation by DNA polymerase can lead to the development of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
    Mitochondrial dysfunction that is the hallmark of aging is known as the major factor of NAFLD.
    Also, as we age, impairment of lipophagy(autophagic degradation of the body fat droplets) also leads to development of NAFLD
  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
    More than 80% of elderly individuals over 65 years of age suffer from OA, which causes disabilities in elderly individuals and places a heavy burden on patients and society. [6]
  • Osteoporosis (OP)
    Osteoporosis is an aging-related bone disease that is characterized by bone mass reduction and bone microstructure damage.
  • Aging-related macular degeneration (AMD)
    AMD is a degenerative disease of the macula that leads to severe visual loss in the elderly population.
  • Presbycusis
    Presbycusis, also referred to as aging-related hearing loss (ARHL), is a progressive form of sensorineural hearing loss that occurs with aging and is a common condition in the elderly population.
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
    BPH is a common urogenital disease in middle-aged and elderly men. Previous studies have indicated that increasing age is an important risk factor for the development of BPH.
  • Cancer
    The link between aging and cancer is complex. Although there is clear evidence that cells entering a senescent state can act as a barrier to tumorigenesis, some studies have demonstrated that, in certain conditions, persistent senescent cells can acquire pro-tumorigenic properties.

‘’Delaying the aging rate by 7 years

 would cut the incidence of disease in half! ‘’

Disease or total death rates for the most common diseases of old age.
(A) Cardiovascular disease incidence in England in 2006 (source: British Heart Foundation ‘Coronary heart disease statistics’ 2010). (B) Dementia prevalence in EU countries in 2006 (source: Alzheimer Europe, 2009). (C) Age-specific mortality rates per 100,000 population, UK (source: Cancer Research UK).

The Impact of Aging Speed on Mortality Rates

Traditionally, aging has been perceived as an inevitable and linear decline in physiological function. However, recent scientific discoveries have unveiled that aging is a complex phenomenon influenced by a myriad of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Moreover, research has shown that the speed at which we age can have profound implications for mortality rates.

‘’Even just being slightly above an aging rate of 1 biological year/chronologicl year can increase your risk of death by 56% in the next 7 years‘’

Studies have indicated that individuals who experience accelerated aging are more likely to face an increased risk of premature death. The underlying mechanisms linking aging speed to mortality rates involve a combination of genetic factors, oxidative stress, inflammation, telomere length, and the accumulation of cellular damage over time.

Conclusion

Numerous studies have demonstrated that interventions aimed at slowing down aging, such as caloric restriction, regular physical exercise, and certain pharmacological agents, can extend lifespan and improve overall healthspan.

Slowing down aging not only addresses the root causes of age-related diseases but also has a profound impact on physiological function and resilience. It helps maintain organ function, preserves cognitive abilities, enhances immune system response, and promotes overall well-being.

References

1. Oeppen, J. & Vaupel, J. W. Broken limits to life expectancy. Science 296, 1029–1031 (2002).

2. Niccoli, T. & Partridge, L. Ageing as a risk factor for disease. Curr. Biol. 22, R741–R752 (2012).

3. Savarese, G. et al. Global burden of heart failure: a comprehensive and updated review of epidemiology. Cardiovasc. Res. cvac013 https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvac013 (2022).

4. Chen, K. et al. Klotho deficiency causes heart aging via impairing the Nrf2-GR pathway. Circ. Res. 128, 492–507 (2021).

5. Kalyani, R. R., Golden, S. H. & Cefalu, W. T. Diabetes and aging: unique considerations and goals of care. Diabetes Care 40, 440–443 (2017).

6. Barbour, K. E., Helmick, C. G., Boring, M. & Brady, T. J. Vital signs: prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation – United States, 2013-2015. MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 66, 246–253 (2017).

Functional medicine Malaysia doctor

Author:
Dr. Shirley Koeh
Date:
10 August 2023

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