Health care today is reactive, retrospective, bureaucratic and expensive. This is a care, not health care. However, this is destined to change. Scientists who are serious about aging, life extension, and health are working to change the whole system, which holds $ 3 trillion. Let us look at what ageing is and how emerging technologies and initiatives will work to combat the nine evils of human health.
Why the health care system does not work
The health care system in the world — we will not take individual countries-is broken and does not work. That’s why:
Doctors spend $ 210 billion a year on treatments that are based not on patients ‘ needs, but on a fear of responsibility.
Americans spend an average of $ 8,915 on health care-more than any other country on earth.
Prescription drugs are about 50% more expensive in the US than in other industrialized countries.
At current rates, by 2025 almost 25% of US GDP will be spent on health care.
12 years and 359 million dollars, on average, is required to deliver a new drug from the lab to the patient.
Only 5 out of 5,000 of these new drugs are being tested on humans. Of these, only 1 in 5 is approved for human use.
We live in the healthiest time in human history
At the same time, if you compare with other periods of people’s existence, there is nothing to complain about. But the problems concern the world, not the individual country, but progress has been significant.
- Countries with the lowest life expectancy still have higher life expectancy than those with the highest expectation in 1800.
- In 1841, a 5-year-old child had an expected life of 55 years. Today, a 5-year-old can expect to live 82 years – this is 27 years more.
- The life span of people increases. In 1845, a newborn could expect to live up to 40 years. But at the age of 70 it was possible to live up to 79 years. Today, people of all ages can expect to live 81-86 years.
- 100 years ago, 1 in 3 children died before the age of 5. In 2015, the infant mortality rate fell to 4.3%.
- Cancer mortality has fallen by 27% in the last 25 years.
- Nine mechanisms of aging
- Life expectancy, health and ageing are closely linked.
With better health care, we can better treat some of the major causes of death that affect our life expectancy.
By studying how to treat diseases, we inevitably understand better what causes these diseases in the first place, and this is directly related to why we age.
Below you will find nine distinctive signs of aging.
Genomic instability. As we age, the environment and normal cellular processes damage our genes. Flying at high altitudes, for example, exposes us to increased radiation or free radicals. These injuries worsen over a lifetime and are known to accelerate aging.
Depletion of telomeres. Each strand of DNA in the body (known as a chromosome) is closed by telomeres. These short DNA fragments, repeated thousands of times, are designed to protect most of the chromosome. Telomeres are shortened as our DNA multiplies; if telomeres reach a certain critical length, the cell ceases to divide, leading to an increase in morbidity.
Epigenetic changes. Over time, environmental factors alter gene expression processes, that is, how certain DNA sequences are read and a set of instructions are implemented.
Loss of proteostasis. Over time, various proteins in our body cease to develop and function as they should, leading to a variety of diseases, from cancer to neurological disorders.
Unregulated perception of nutrients. The level of nutrients in the body can affect various metabolic pathways. Among the affected parts of these pathways are proteins such as IGF-1, mTOR, sirtuins and AMPK. Changes in the levels of these proteins affect life expectancy.
Mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria (our cellular power plants) lose productivity with age. Reduced performance leads to excessive fatigue and other symptoms of chronic diseases associated with aging.
Cellular aging. With age, the cells cease to divide and can not be removed from the body. They accumulate and lead to severe inflammation.
Depletion of stem cells. With age, our stock of stem cells begins to decrease 100 – 10 000 times in different tissues and organs. In addition, stem cells undergo genetic mutations that reduce their quality and effectiveness in the renewal and restoration of the body.
Altered intercellular communication. The communication mechanisms that our cells use are disrupted as the cells age, which reduces the ability to exchange information between them.
What conclusions can be drawn?
Over the past 200 years, we have seen a host of medical technologies contributing to a massive increase in life expectancy.
Exponential technologies like artificial intelligence, 3D printing and sensors, and huge advances in genomics, stem cell research, chemistry and many other areas are beginning to address the fundamental problems of why we age.
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