You might have seen calculators on-line that help understand the difference between our "chronological age" and our "actual age". In determining the actual age, the calculators usually ask for certain lifestyle practises associated with facilitating good or bad health conditions such as smoking or exercising 30 minutes a day.
There is now an innovate technology that brings an age old approach to understanding our "internal age" using "Pulse Wave Velocity" and mobile phone software with low cost portable equipment. The company introducing the product to the market is iHeart. The software is free and the equipment looks just like the device place over the finger to measure SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation) taken with vitals during medical visits. One caveat is that this is not an approved medical device and consequently only suitable for general health and fitness references.
iHeart uses pulse wave velocity to evaluate "aortic stiffness" as a means to understand "internal age". iHeart discusses it this way: "Aortic Pulse Wave Velocity is closely related to and is a measure of stiffness along the spinal column. Increased stiffness of the spine results in decreased mobility of the body’s core regions affecting chest wall and diaphragmatic motion. When pulse wave velocity
increases in speed, Core Mobility is reduced and the Internal Organs receive less of a massaging action with each breath. This decreases organ circulation, affecting organ function, overall health and longevity. Aortic Pulse Wave Velocity not only assesses risk of illness but also shows improvement with attention to diet, exercise and stress management. Aortic Pulse Wave Velocity is a way to 'look inside' and can help people objectively appreciate the benefit of positive lifestyle choices."
What does it look like?
During the reading, the application presents a sinusoidal heart rate pattern. The image and data below is presented upon completion of the measurement. In this example, the persons actual age is 58 with an internal age estimation of 39.
The readings are also trended as illustrated below. The reading is affected by other factors of a persons day, so time of day and activity level among others play a factor (as with any type of measurement).
In case someone would like to research the background on Pulse Wave Velocity, a link to the article "Aortic Pulse Wave Velocity as a Marker of Cardiovascular Risk in Hypertensive Patients" is provided. This study concluded that Pulse Wave Velocity is strongly associated with the presence and extent of atherosclerosis and constitutes a forceful marker and predictor of cardiovascular risk in hypertensive patients. The study points out that "arterial stiffness" increases with age and hypertension and is also enhanced in subjects with diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, and end-stage renal disease. It also points out that the Pulse Wave Velocity measurement is highly related to cardiovascular risk as assessed by the standard Framingham equations. The Framingham equations are the result of a greater than 5000 person, greater than 12 year longitudinal studies with no one lost in follow-up. Links to the Framingham study can be found here.
So how is all this relevant? Your body composition is a symptom of your health. Your health is a result of your lifestyle. These things are inseparable.