Frequently Asked Questions
Is Longevity Medicine a medical specialty?
Not yet, although there are some indications that it is going in that direction! Many integrative and functional medicine doctors, who are often early adopters, are eager to organize and apply this new information clinically.
Does insurance cover longevity consultations?
WE ARE OPTED OUT OF MEDICARE and no invoices or superbills may be submitted to Medicare. Insurance is structured to cover care around an acute illness or basic “standard” yearly physicals and prescribed testing such as colonoscopies and mammograms. We are exploring data that help us to avoid future problems. Insurance DOES NOT currently pay for this type of intensive consultative time, genomic testing, fitness testing, and immune age testing. We do not provide any billing assistance, all services are paid upfront.
What is the difference between anti-aging and longevity medicine?
The terms anti-aging and longevity are sometimes used interchangeably. But longevity is not anti-aging, as we are not trying to stop the clock or achieve immortality. With longevity medical consulting, we are working towards a long “healthspan” and a good quality of life as we age. This is sometimes referred to as “squaring the curve”…having a productive life until close to the end and avoiding a prolonged period of decline and poor health, which is the typical trajectory. Go to ilcuk.org.uk (International Longevity Center UK)…we have an average lifespan of 77.2 years (all the Americas) but an average healthspan of 66.3 years. (Index utilizes pre-COVID data from 2019). This is the gap we are trying to close, the 11 years of decline.
Why would I want to know how “old” I am?
Our age at death remains unknown, but we can estimate our current functional level through tests called “biomarkers”. Cardiologists already do this type of calculation with coronary calcium scores, and we do this with bone density, comparing our bone density quantitatively to a young adult. The measurements are a baseline against which we can assess our progress. Biomarkers allow us to change course or add to our lifestyle plans. For each 1 year younger biologically, we decrease our 5-year risk of cancer incidence by 6%, as one example of the type of outcome we are trying to achieve. Progress in many areas is completely achievable in a few months with very targeted work on diet, lifestyle, and supplement changes.
Why can’t I get these tests through my primary physician or through my insurance?
Traditional medicine is a disease-centered model. If you have a disease or a diagnosable condition, certain labs are allowed to be checked or followed. With Longevity Medical Consulting we are interested in identifying potential issues way upstream. That approach means that we need to cast a wide net, and take a look in-depth at how your body is functioning, to begin to rejuvenate you! For example, we know that having a very flexible metabolic system (glucose and insulin management) is very important. You may not have official “diabetes” but your regular doctor might be satisfied with your borderline lab values. Average does not equal optimal. In fact, for every incremental increase in Hemoglobin A1c even within normal ranges, we know there is an acceleration in the loss of brain volume per year. We are interested in becoming the best we can be, not a borderline case of diabetes or pre-diabetes.
My family history does not contain many super-agers…am I doomed?
No, not at all. What is inherited as genetic or epigenetic “marks” is only 40% of the picture. What we do during our life can dramatically change our health journey. We are trying to help you target what the genetic “obstacles” might have been for your family members. Was it detoxification? Glucose management? Neurological rebuilding and repair? We can specifically work on those areas.
Applied Genomics for Longevity
How does Applied Genomics testing work?
The genomics panel we use is a medical-level analysis run by IntellxxDNA that tests over 600 variations grouped into 30 panels of clinical concern. The human genome is known to have over 1 million areas where variations are common. Our panel is curated to include pathways where the impact of that variant is known, and where we have medical literature that supports an action plan.
Why can’t I just do a $150 genomics kit available through my trainer/nutritionist/Facebook?
We use a high-complexity medical-level lab that runs your sample three times. They will confirm certain genetic sequences with additional testing that involves expensive equipment (sequencing). The error rate in commercial kits is published to be in the 20-25% range. We are analyzing over 600 variations in several hundred genes, while most of the lower-cost testing looks at 20 or 30 genes. Every variant in our test has medical literature backing up the clinical consequences, and all of our workarounds and solutions have publications to support their validity. Because you are working with a physician we are allowed to discuss disease possibilities, while the commercial kits are constricted in their reporting.
I already did a 23andME and have my report. What will be different about Longevity Medical Consultation?
Your raw gene data is run through software that will screen nearly 600 key locations for variants known to affect human health. Our reports are much more in-depth, and we take the next step to blend the genomic information with labs, goals, family history, and lifestyle information to present a longevity action plan to you. We are going to take a very detailed look at many metabolic pathways in your body and discuss how they are running. The variants we are assessing are grouped together so we can organize care around areas that require attention.
Immune Rejuvenation for Longevity
What is the difference between Immune Rejuvenation and an Immune Boost?
When our body encounters a toxin or infection, various immune cells and immune messengers become activated (go into “alarm” mode), and soon after, a balanced, healthy immune system will return to a resting state, non-inflamed, when the threat has passed. Boosting an immune system that is already on high alert, already inflamed, can cause more damage to the body and will not necessarily create a more effective response. The goal of immune rejuvenation is to get rid of older, damaged, and inflammation-causing cells, and create a balanced, reset immune system.
Should I come in for Immune Rejuvenation after the flu or an infection, etc?
For a mild challenge (for example a mild cold, a cold sore, or poison ivy) we recommend waiting 1 month to test. With more serious infections or challenges (for example COVID-19, surgery, or a shingles shot) we recommend waiting 3 months.
Fitness for Longevity
Once I get my fitness for longevity plan, what’s next?
We will have a meeting to make sure you understand your results and next steps. Some patients will need additional support for their eating plans, or additional instruction for various parts of their exercise plan. Our service is not intended to be an ongoing coaching relationship, but we can direct you to internet resources and local resources. We expect that patients who select this service have access along with some familiarity with basic cardio work and strength training at least at some point in their lives.
Are there certain points in my aging process where I should have another fitness for longevity session?
We do offer repeat RMR and VO2 max testing à la carte if you wish to reassess, and certainly, both are worth repeating at intervals. The company that supports our equipment, PNOE, has metabolic specialists and exercise physiologists that can be consulted separately, for an additional fee.