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Slowing the Aging Process

Aired March 17, 2007 - 08:30   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coming up on HOUSECALL, what you can do to slow the ravages of time inside and out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doctor who, what, huh, out of where? What school?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It comes with age. Memory loss. Tune in for ways to sharpen your brain. Plus...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By the time one of my patients is 40-years old, I want them to be using.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What this skin expert says is a must for good-looking skin as you age.


SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Good morning and welcome to HOUSECALL. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And this morning, we're giving you tips on living a longer, healthier life. Sound good? From preventing heart disease and staving off memory loss, to advice about boosting your metabolism.

So let's start with the number one killer of men and women in this nation - it's heart disease. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has a look at what steps you can take right now as you age to cut your risk.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since Cintonya Somerville is a tough lady to catch. She's a recreational director who's always on the move.

CINTONYA SOMERVILLE, RECREATIONAL DIRECTOR: I was used to moving. Slowed down a little when I became a mom.

COHEN: But as she's gotten older, she's seen changes in her health. Now 47, she takes medication for hypertension. As we get older, our circulatory system begins to build up plaque on the inside of the artery walls. Those arteries begin to narrow, which can cause high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, and other problems. Any of these conditions can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or even death.

Genetics, bad diet, smoking, and obesity serve only to speed up the process.

In your 30s, staying fit is key. The American Heart Association say exercise. Don't smoke. And tell your doctor if you have a family history of heart disease. Also, know your personal heart health numbers. Blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.

PATRICIA DAVIDSON, DR., WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CTR.: So when you're 30, that's when all of these things begin to deteriorate because your metabolic rate begins to decline, your weight starts going up, your blood pressure starts going up, your arteries now have been stiffened.

COHEN: In your 40s, you have to be even more vigilant about diet and exercise.

DAVIDSON: It's very critical that you begin to exercise if you're not already. That you need to do it and try to do it at least five to seven times a week.

COHEN: In your 50s, exercise is just as important. You should also keep tabs on the way your body is changing. You may be a candidate for something called the Metabolic Syndrome, a combination of high cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose, along with excess weight concentrated in the abdomen.

PAUL RUIZ, DR., MEDSTAR CARDIOLOGY: So something that we should aggressively go after because folks that have the Metabolic Syndrome, it's clear are at increased risk for having bad cardiovascular outcomes.

COHEN: And that could be alleviated with diet, exercise, and certain medications. In order to curb her hypertension, Cintonya has given up burgers, which she loves, and added more fruits and vegetables to her diet. She's exercising more and hopes her high blood pressure can be kept in check.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN.


GUPTA: And as Elizabeth reported, one of the risk factors for heart disease is being overweight. It also increases your risk for stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. Losing weight is tough and only gets tougher as we age, thanks to a lagging metabolism.

Elizabeth Cohen again with that story.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ah, the joys of aging. In your 50s...

LIZ SCULL: I can actually feel myself slowing down. I have to work harder here and at home to get my metabolism up, to get my heart pumping, to be able to breathe better. It's just a little more of a fight. Fire, fire!

COHEN: Even in your 40s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I used to play basketball, be able to run full court. And you have to kind of supplant that as the joints get a little creekier.

COHEN: Exercise physiologists say our bodies change so much between 30 and 50.

SARA PRICE, EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGIST: You can expect every year to lose a half a pound of muscle. So from your 30s to 40s, you're losing five pounds of muscle.

COHEN: And a changing body requires a changing workout. Rule number one, in your 30s, really make an effort to build your muscles as strong as possible.

PRICE: In your 30s what you're looking to do is establish a base. That's when you really wanting to put on muscle mass so you might look at lifting heavier weights.

COHEN: A good base that will help you later.

PRICE: 40s and 50s, as our body ages, just overuse injuries start happening. So if you have a good baseline, then you can look at maintaining and taking a more functional approach to exercise.

COHEN: So at 50, Liz Scull may not be lifting as much or as quickly as a 30-year-old. Her focus is on keeping the muscle she has strong and supple. And the work is paying off.

SCULL: The biggest benefit to working out for three years now I've been doing this, is when I started here I was on five prescription drugs. And now, I'm on zero.

COHEN: Her plans to keep exercising in her 50s, 60s, and beyond.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


GUPTA: That's always great to hear from five prescriptions to zero just by living a healthier life.

Now beyond diet and exercise, another component of healthy living is going to the doctor. As a physician, I know that my family history means I need to see the doctor regularly for heart screenings. But many people, men especially, avoid doing this.

So I'm speaking to the men now. Do you know how often you should be getting checked out?


GUPTA (voice-over): You'd be hard-pressed to find a more fit 49- year-old. Peter Moore is the Executive Editor of "Men's Health" magazine. He exercises three or four times a week, everything from basketball to skiing.

PETER MOORE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, MEN'S HEALTH: Doctors were applauding me. You know, they would look at my weight, my cholesterol numbers, you know, what I was eating, my exercise plan.

GUPTA: But two years ago, Peter had a rude awakening. Extreme chest pains brought him to the doctor, who found 99 percent blockage in a major artery. If gone untreated, he could have died. Peter had an angioplasty and is back in good health. But how could somebody so fit have major coronary heart disease, and have it go undetected?

MOORE: If I had had a nuclear stress test, it's hard to know how we could have caught that. We all need to have, you know, a high level of awareness of this.

GUPTA: Men see doctors 28 percent less often than women. And many don't know what to ask. First off, they should get to know their numbers.

CHRISTOPHER E. KELLY, DR., NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: The 30s are a decade in order to get baseline measurements of your overall state of health. Your blood pressure, your weight, knowing your cholesterol, your complete blood count, urinalysis and glucose are all vital tests to be getting. And also, a baseline EKG is recommended.

GUPTA: Electrocardiograms for your heart and an easy self testicular exam.

KELLY: The most common cancer for men in their 30s is testus cancer. Particularly in their 40s, we start seeing more diseases pop up.

GUPTA: So men should visit their doctors annually and ask about risks associated with family history and disease. Stress tests, cholesterol-lowering drugs, or daily aspirin may be in order. African-American men and other high risk males should consider prostate cancer screenings, the PSA blood test and the infamous digital rectal exam. Detected early, prostate cancer can be cured.

KELLY: In their 50s, a patient should be aware that they need a colonoscopy. They should also be aware that they need prostate cancer screening.

GUPTA: 50 somethings need the same diagnostic tests as their younger counterparts, but now colorectal and prostate cancers are of greater concern. For guys like Peter Moore, early tests and early detection could be a lifesaver.

(END VIDEOTAPE) GUPTA: All right, from Mars to Venus, coming up, we're checking out what women need to know about their health.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They can be time-consuming and hard to schedule, but a few simple tests could save a woman's life. That's next. And later, we're heading to the farm.


UNIDENITIFIED FEMALE: You can slice an apple in 30 seconds. It doesn't always have to come out of a box.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From farm to the table, some easy tips.

But first, answer this. When should you start having regular hearing tests? That answer after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before the break we asked, when should you start having regular hearing tests? The answer, audiologists say starting at age 50.

GUPTA: And you may not realize it, but the majority of people with hearing loss are under the age of 65. As you heard experts say, you should get your hearing checked every year after age 50. But they encourage adults to get their hearing tested every 10 years before that as well.

Now women should add that to the list of screenings they begin in their 20s. Elizabeth Cohen now with tests that women need to know about.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a massage therapist, Linda Taylor spends a lot of time devoted to other people's health but she's not always so smart about her own. You're supposed to be tested for diabetes beginning at age 45. She didn't get tested until she was 54.

LINDA TAYLOR, MASSAGE THERAPIST: Diabetes runs in my family. But when it was diagnosed, it was almost a relief. Now I absolutely had to take care of myself, no fooling.

COHEN: Linda's now on medication, has changed her diet, and is exercising.

TAYLOR: And I do feel better. I really do feel better.

COHEN: The screening test for diabetes is just one of the many recommended as we grow older.

Starting in your 30s, you need to have regular heart health tests, thyroid tests, and skin tests for abnormal moles. Some tests are just for women. In your 30s, you need to have regular breast exams by your health care provider, as well as regular pelvic exams and pap smears. How often depends on each woman. Some women need it every year. Others who are at lower risk need paps only once every three years.

Then at 40, in addition to all these tests, women need to start having mammograms every year. At 45, women need to start having regular diabetes tests. Women in their 50s add in some new tests. Colorectal cancer screening and a colonoscopy every 10 years.

And don't get caught off guard like Linda did. For screening tests in general, you may need them earlier and more often based on family history and your own personal health.

And while all these tests may seem time-consuming, it was one simple test that changed Linda Taylor's life.

TAYLOR: I'm glad that I'm diagnosed because it's not hanging over my head anymore. It's arrived.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


GUPTA: All right, Elizabeth, thanks. And more HOUSECALL coming up after the break.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are you going the lose it? And has it already started to go? We're talking about memory. Coming up, tips to keep you sharp.

First, this week's medical headlines in "The Pulse."


JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mental illness is taking a toll on U.S. soldiers. According to a review of more than 100,000 vets of Iraq and Afghanistan, 25 percent have been diagnosed with some form of mental disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder is the biggest problem, diagnosed in 13 percent of returning veterans, followed by anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

At a startling report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reveals half of college students binge drink and abuse drugs. 1.8 million students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse and dependence. That's 2.5 times more than the general population.

Judy Fortin, CNN.



GUPTA: All right, we're back with HOUSECALL. Here's a quick memory test. I want you to remember these words. Boat, glass, apple, bear and table. Remember those? Now start counting backwards from 100 by threes. So 100, 97, 94, 91, 88. Now can you remember those words again? Well, it's difficult, right? Our short-term memory is extremely limited and retains about seven chunks of information for only 25 seconds.

So not to worry if you had some trouble there. But as you age, you'll start to notice more problems with all of your memory. The question is how much is normal and what can you do to boost your brain power?



GUPTA: Who doesn't forget a word here and there?

JENKINS: It was a big...

GUPTA: Or occasionally the name of a person they just met.

WOODY PHILHOWER, ENTREPRENEUR: Like hey, guy, how you doing? Instead of saying hey, Joe, how you doing?

GUPTA: But lately, 54-year-old Linda Jenkins, a busy saleswoman, and 65-year old entrepreneur Woody Philhower are experiencing those memory lapses a lot more often.

JENKINS: Dr. Who, what, huh, out of where? What school?

GUPTA: Starting in your 30s, some memory loss can be expected.

DEVANGERE DEVANAND, DR., COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: One of the first symptoms that people have is forgetting names. Names of people, names of movies, names of books they read.

GUPTA: But how do you keep your mind sharp through the years? Juggling fast-track careers and growing families means serious multi- tasking, and serious stress. Under this sort of pressure, your memory could be improved by sleeping at least eight hours each night, getting regular exercise, and forcing yourself to remember phone numbers without having to look at your cell phone or your Blackberry.

Some people in their 40s are turning to memory courses or memory boot camps. Boot camps teach mind benders like puzzles to keep the brain active.

Other suggestions include stocking up on brain-healthy foods rich in antioxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids, which may keep brain cells from dying, and again, exercising, cutting down on stress.

At 50, just forgetting names is no big cause for concern. But there are warning signs to watch out for.

DEVANAND: They lose track of things, start missing appointments which they were in the habit of keeping regularly. Lose their way when driving to a familiar place.

GUPTA: If this is happening to you, seek out a specialist, a neurologist or a psycho therapist. If your memory problems are serious, a brain scan may be in order. Regardless of age, there's no specific formula for staving off memory loss. But Dr. Davanand believes...

DEVANAND: What's good for the heart is good for the brain.

GUPTA: So watch your weight. Exercise. Don't smoke. All good tips for keeping your brain fit.

So do you remember all that? Well coming up, a way to get kids to eat their vegetables. Stay tuned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plant the seeds and harvest the crop. Find out how these city kids went farming and came back with life-long lessons.


GUPTA: Welcome back to HOUSECALL. Well, it's an age-old struggle -- how to get your kids to eat their vegetables. I know my toddler isn't enthused about her veggies, but we found a program where not only do they eat them, they grow them.


GUPTA (voice-over): Here, children clamor for another bite of cucumber, stand in line for a fresh green bean. And they can't wait to eat what they've grown.

STACEY ANTINE, FOUNDER & CEO, HEALTHBARN USA: Are you ready for your farming day?

GUPTA: Healthbarn USA founder Stacey Antine is a dietician who wants families to get back to the basics.

ANTINE: You can slice an apple in 30 seconds, even a snack like that type of thing, it doesn't always have to come out of a box.

We're going to plant beans today.

GUPTA: Antine started Healthbarn USA after observing obese children in the New York hospital when she was a student. She thought there must be a way to teach children before they wind up in a clinic.

ANTINE: I'm not selling any sort of fancy diet. I'm just trying to get people to eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Let's see those muscles, Gabe.

GUPTA: At Healthbarn, children plant seeds, cultivate and harvest the crops. They take what they've grown and learn about nutrition as they prepare meals. Students play games like supermarket spy kids, where it's all about reading food labels. ANTINE: You can only tell what's in the product if you read the ingredients.

GUPTA: Antine says it's up to parents to create a healthy lifestyle.

ANTINE: If a parent says I hate tomatoes, then I guarantee the kid's going to say the same thing.

GUPTA: Orthopedic surgeon Cherise Dyal and her 12-year-old daughter Christina enrolled in the program.

CHERISE DYAL, DR., HEALTHBARN USA PARTICIPANT: I wanted her to see a healthy way of living for life.

GUPTA: Dr. Dyal says she didn't get any nutritional education in medical school. She says her family now does dinner differently.

DYAL: Suddenly there were oranges on the table at dinnertime. Or instead of just having a choice of one vegetable, there were two and the salad to boot.

GUPTA: Healthbarn's parent and child program is a commitment. It runs 12 weeks around three hours a week and costs nearly $1500. Several of the students happen to be children of doctors.

ANTINE: Our children come from well-educated families. They've never seen a vegetable grow.

GUPTA: But Antine says growing a garden is something any family can do.

ANTINE: And how you can get them to eat healthier and eat more natural foods is to actually connect them back with the farm. And they don't necessarily have to be on a farm. They could pot their own plant in an apartment.


GUPTA: All right, coming up, we're talking about fighting nature. Well, as much as you can. Tips for staving off wrinkles. You're not going to want to miss this coming up on HOUSECALL.


TIME STAMP: 0857:40

GUPTA: We're back with HOUSECALL. We've all seen the commercials, fight aging, buy X lotion or Y miracle cream to turn back time. But as Elizabeth Cohen reports, there are no miracles. The trick is to start early, if you want to delay father time.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wondering how you can look younger? Flip through any magazine and you'll see just how many options there are. And it's getting easier to figure out just what you need.

RUDLEDGE FORNEY, DR., DERMATOLOGIST: They may want to consider doing a mildly exfoliating face wash just to help skin turn over so it looks brighter and fresher as you're getting a little bit away from your 20s. They may also want to consider doing a Retinol type moisturizer at night, which again helps lead toward decreased brown spots.

COHEN: While acne may be something we associate with high school, it doesn't always go away by graduation. It may linger through your 30s. And then the double whammy, that's also when you'll start seeing the beginnings of wrinkles.

FORNEY: By the time I -- one of my patients is 40-years old, I want them to be using Retin-A or one of its cousins every night. If you start using Retin-A in your early 40s, by the time you're in your 60s, you will continue to glow.

COHEN: In your 40s, your skin will start to thin a bit, becoming more fragile and blotchy. Some dermatologists recommend a heavier moisturizer or a chemical peel.

Then in your 50s, doctors have different ways of attacking drier, thinner skin and wrinkles. Here's what one dermatologist does.

FORNEY: My skin has had some help. I've been using retinoids since I was in my 20s. I use antioxidants every day. I use a sunscreen every day. And you will not find me on the beach between 11:00 and 2:00.

COHEN: No matter what your age, sunscreen is a must for beauty and for health. That, plus a good diet and not smoking can be even more valuable than the most expensive creams.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.


GUPTA: And it's worth pointing out Dr. Forney went on to tell Elizabeth you don't need to spend a lot of money on skincare. You just need to be consistent.

But we're out of time for today. But you can catch me all hours of the day by downloading my podcast on iTunes, as well as

Make sure to tune in every weekend as well to another edition of HOUSECALL. That's 8:30 a.m. Eastern, Saturday and Sunday. Remember, this is the place for the answers to all of your medical questions. Thanks for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Stay tuned now for more news on CNN.


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