Measuring Artery Age to Reverse Atherosclerosis

It would seem obvious that examining the health of the approximate 50,000 miles of arteries in the body would provide key information on vascular and overall aging. As Thomas Sydenham, MD said in the 1600’s in England, “a man is as old as his arteries”. This, of course, is true for women too.

Evaluating the health of the vascular system is not a common part of clinical examinations of patients and may be limited to checking a blood pressure and assessing the appearance and circulation in the hands and feet. Actually, there are a wide range of options for accurate vascular health assessments to consider. We use all of these and more at the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity. 

Techniques at the Kahn Center

Direct Artery Imaging

There are two widely available methods of assessing arteries and determining a measure of arterial age.

A. Coronary artery calcium score (CACS) by CT. This non-invasive examination is performed without contrast or IV injection. It takes under a minute, is painless, is not claustrophobic, and has a radiation exposure similar to a mammogram. In many cities it costs $100 or less. The CACS ranges from the ideal zero to over 1,000. An online calculator (astrocharm.org) uses the CACS and several other clinical markers to predict the 10-year risk of heart attack and stroke.

B. Carotid intimal-medial thickness (CIMT). This is an ultrasound examination of the carotid arteries. The images are analyzed with digital software and the thickness of the inner 2 layers of the carotids are measured in mm. A health measure is around 0.6mm and increased CIMT is a marker of atherosclerosis. There are databases of normal CIMT by age and gender. Our clinic report included the arterial age measured. The CIMT can be measured annually to track the reversal of athersclerosis.

Endothelial Testing (the inner lining of arteries)

A. Direct measures of endothelial function can be performed using devices like the EndoPAT device available at specialty vascular clinics.

B. Indirect measures of endothelial testing include lab assessments of the urinary microalbumin/creatinine ratio and blood measurements of ADMA, myeloperoxidase, and homocysteine. Although these tests are not commonly performed in most practices, they are available from major lab companies.

C. Ambulatory 24 hour blood pressure cuff: Measuring blood pressure by an automated device over the course of 24 hours provides helpful input on the patterns of blood pressure while awake and during sleep that can reflect healthy or abnormal artery health.

Nitric Oxide Testing (the key molecule made by arteries)

A. Salivary nitric oxide can be estimated by inexpensive test strips.

B. Blood testing for assymetric dimethyl arginine (ADMA)

Author
Dr. Joel Kahn

You Might Also Enjoy...

Loving Your Endothelium and Glycocalyx

There are 50-60,000 miles of arteries in your body, all lined by a fascinating layer called the endothelium. A healthy endothelium is a healthy body. On top of the endothelium is an even more important structure called the glycocalyx.

Mercury, Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium: "Heavy Metals" to Know

With the growth of the industrial world increased concentrations of toxic chemicals have become come. Amongst these, a group of substances called "heavy metals" are more frequent and can play a role in cardiovascular disease. Knowing about them is wise.

Important Reasons to Eat a Plant Diet for Health and More

Looking to prevent illness? Reverse disease? Maintain your weight? Help the environment? Be kind to animals? Feel more energy? Think clearly? All of that and more is possible with a plant diet. Here are important reasons why to jump in now.

Important Reasons to Eat a Plant Diet

Looking for a health upgrade? A disease prevention diet? A disease reversal diet? Weight loss? Living pain free? All of that comes from a plant diet. Here are strong reasons to choose a plant diet.

A Second Opinion is Your First Choice

Have you been told you need a heart catheterization, heart stent, open heart bypass, or valve replacement? Although these may appear to be common procedures, risks and alternatives may exist. A second opinion is often your first choice.