Keeping heart and blood vessels young

Healthwatch

Researchers are finding new ways to keep your heart and your blood vessels young.   

There’s new research on how to age healthier.

Aging is the single biggest risk factor for heart disease. 

Daniel Craighead is a postdoctoral fellow at the Integrative Physiology of Aging Laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder. He says, “As you age, there’s more oxidative stress. That stress can damage how well your blood vessels work and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.” 

Craighead and his colleague and physiologist Tom Larocca say our bodies start aging far sooner than we realize. 

Larocca adds, “Things start happening in your cells as early as your early 30s that slow down things throughout your body.” 

They’re now looking at ways to mimic the effects of exercise and healthy eating. Even just eating fewer calories, can clear harmful free radicals from aging cells.

Larocca says, “It’s thought that many of those free radicals come from the mitochondria and that that gets worse as we age.” 

In a recent study, MitoQ, a nutraceutical, or food with medicinal benefits, targets the mitochondria, and improved vascular health by 42 percent. 

Craighead says, “In participants that started the study with higher arterial stiffness, they saw a reduction, so their blood vessels got less stiff with MitoQ.” 

It actually made blood vessels look 15 to 20 years younger. Slashing calorie intake can also improve heart health. 

Craighead says, “An issue with older adults though sometimes losing weight can be bad for them. It results in a loss of muscle mass and a decrease in bone density.” 

Another study showed nicotinamide riboside, a supplement that mimics caloric restriction, decreases blood pressure and decreases arterial stiffness. 

Larocca says, “People are certainly interested in anything that can help you age more successfully.” 

Craighead says, “We’re not quite at the point where people should go out and start buying these, but the research is very promising.” 

Both supplements are available over the counter, but researchers say it’s still too early to recommend them to the aging population.

They say for people who exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet, there is no need for any of these supplements because they’re already getting the anti-aging benefits of a healthy lifestyle. 

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