Vascular Health

There can be a real difference between how old you are and how old your blood vessels are.  For instance, the vascular age of a 30-year-old woman who is a smoker, overeats (thus has higher blood pressure and cholesterol level) could be as high as 55 years old. Some studies show that the comparison is not misleading to a healthy 80-year-old woman! – this, according to Donald Lloyd-Jones, a preventive cardiologist at Northwestern University, Chicago, who co-authored the recent study, which appeared in the journal Circulation last August.

The first step is to stop smoking (if you do) and adjust your lifestyle. Pursuant to the Northwestern University study, a 42-year-old man who smokes and has total cholesterol of 180, good cholesterol (HDL) of 45 and systolic blood pressure of 125, has a vascular age of a 54-year-old. If he quits smoking, his vascular age could drop to 42, the same as his chronological age.

A 52-year-old nonsmoking woman, who has total cholesterol of 220, HDL of 44 and systolic blood pressure of 135, has a vascular age of a 68-year-old. If the woman reduces her cholesterol below 200, her vascular age could drop to 59 years old.

With optimal cholesterol and blood pressure and no diabetes, the vascular age of a 74-year-old non-smoking man could be as low as 60, according to the report by Dr. Lloyd-Jones. A similarly healthy 74-year-old woman could have arteries as young as 53, or 21 years less than her chronological age.

While the main problem behind this finding is clearly lifestyle and exercise, cosmetic surgery can set you on the right track. We invariably recommend that our patients change their lifestyle after liposuction, at least in part, so that the immediately apparent visual effect is reinforced by the positive mental attitude and internal changes. In fact, although not all our patients immediately sign up for a major surgical procedure, all come to us for Dr. Fisher’s advice and consultation on how to improve their body image.

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