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Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Could This Hypertension Drug Increase Lifespan?

Scientists find that a drug developed to treat hypertension may be able to add years to your life.

Scientists have recently discovered that rilmenidine, a drug used to treat hypertension, both extended lifespan and slowed aging in animals. The drug showed results in both younger and older mice in a study published in Aging Cell. What makes rilmenidine distinct from other drugs found to have similar benefits is that side effects are mild and few. 

"With a global aging population, the benefits of delaying aging, even if slightly, are immense,” says Professor João Pedro Magalhães, lead researcher in the study. “Repurposing drugs capable of extending lifespan and healthspan has a huge untapped potential in translational geroscience. For the first time, we have been able to show in animals that rilmenidine can increase lifespan. We are now keen to explore if rilmenidine may have other clinical applications."

Triathlete Aged 82 Follows This Health Guideline

Neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon has competed in eight Ironman Triathlons, nine marathons, and more than 70 Olympic triathlons after age 40. He shares his recommendations for extraordinary health:
  • Eat a Mediterranean diet. Maroon’s diet consists of mostly fruits and vegetables with chicken and fish occasionally. He rarely eats red meat.
  • Exercise regularly. Maroon dedicates an hour per day to his exercise routine, six days a week.
  • Abstain from smoking, drinking, and taking non-prescription drugs.
  • Keep your stress levels low. One way Maroon reduces stress is by balancing his values. He makes sure that he spends equal time on work, family/friends, spirituality, and physical activity each day.
  • Get adequate sleep. Maroon sleeps six and half to seven and half hours each night.
  • Take supplements like Omega 3 fatty acids which Maroon takes for brain health and reduced inflammation. He also takes magnesium to balance his workouts as well as glyteine, which he believes may reduce chances of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. You should consult with your doctor and do extensive research before adding any supplements to your diet.

To this point, the gold standard of anti-aging has been a calorie-restriction diet, but those results are currently in question as scientists debate the validity of so-called biologic age, determined by aging biomarkers. (In a very non-scientific aside, we will note that we do not know anyone who wants to try to consume the approximately 14% less calories required to mimic the calorie restriction diet.)

“I just don’t see any evidence that any of the biologic clocks have meaning,” writes longevity scientist Dr. Peter Attia, host of “The Drive,” a podcast dedicated to explaining and applying longevity research to everyday life. “The only validation that matters — which to my knowledge has not been done, but hopefully will be — is to see if ‘biologic age’ can predict future life better than chronological age,” he said.

What is Your Biologic Age and How Can You Lower It?

Some scientists define “biologic” age as the rate at which you are aging physically. You can take an online test to see where you stand, although many researchers feel that epigenetic data provides a more accurate measurement. Try myDNAge to find your genetic results. It will take about two to six weeks to get results. 

Lowering your biologic age is accomplished by lifestyle changes, says Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, aging and epigenetics expert and the author of Younger You. Certain health conditions can prematurely add years to our biologic clock. 

“When you go back to thinking about hypertension and diabetes and that sort of thing, people who have these diseases are aging faster than their chronological age,” says Fitzgerald. “These diseases are pushing aging forward. But also, the journey of aging makes us vulnerable to getting these diseases—it’s kind of like a chicken and the egg. Ultimately, we sit in the driver’s seat of dictating how well we live by choosing how well we live.”

Fitzgerald developed a regimen for reversing biologic age:
  • A very specific diet consisting of a wide variety of colorful and cruciferous vegetables; low glycemic fruits; and some animal protein, particularly eggs and liver, which she describes as “a multivitamin mineral in a food matrix,” as well as foods dense in polyphenols, such as cumin, turmeric, green tea, and mushrooms
  • Adequate hydration
  • Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day five days a week at a perceived exertion of 60-80% of one’s maximum
  • Regular meditation, breathing exercises or other relaxation practices
  • At least seven hours of sleep per night
  • Two supplements: extra polyphenols, in this case, a greens powder, and a simple probiotic

While drugs like rilmenidine may soon be able to help extend lifespan, we can make lifestyle changes today.

“Aging is the biggest risk factor for chronic diseases and even acute ones, such as COVID or influenza,” says Fitzgerald. “If we rally our resources towards cracking the aging nut toward slowing and even reversing biological age, the possibility for humanity is just extraordinary.”