Everyone knows that, as we age, the connective tissue in the skin loosens, and we get wrinkles. But that’s not the only tissue that ages. It’s just the one we see. A more important part of the aging process is what happens to our arteries. And you won’t believe just how much our arteries can age.
To find out how common arterial aging is, researchers recently examined 3,196 men and women over the age of 50. Youthful arteries are flexible. As they age, the arteries become stiff and hard. This leads to a higher blood pressure. So, to determine their arterial health, the researchers measured their blood pressures and their pulse wave velocities. Pulse wave velocity is a way to determine how flexible arteries are.
To measure pulse wave velocity, researchers measure how fast a pressure wave moves through an artery. When an artery is stiff and unhealthy, a pressure wave moves very quickly through the artery. When it’s healthy and flexible, the wave moves much more slowly. The researchers defined a person as having youthful, healthy arteries if blood pressure was normal, and if the pulse wave velocity was less than 7.6 meters/second. These readings are typical of the average person age 30.
First, the good news. They found that the participants with healthy arterial aging were 55% less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases. Now, the bad news. Out of the whole group, only 17.7% had healthy arteries! But it gets worse.
In those older than 70, only 1% had youthful arteries! The other 99% had some degree of arterial aging. Is it too much to hope that all of us are in the 1%? When they analyzed the various factors that were associated with healthier arteries, the results were not all that surprising. In general, women had healthier arteries than men. The other standout factors for healthy arteries were being younger, being in good cardiovascular condition, not being overweight, and not having diabetes.
The answer? M.A.D.E. (Meditation, attitude of gratitude, diet, exercise.) Follow The Hippocrates Diet and Health Program.