You eat your vegetables, workout regularly and devoutly wear your step counter to measure your activity and stay healthy. But what about your internal age? Are you younger than you think? Or aging more rapidly than you’d like?
A Vancouver company has developed a device, called the iHeart, that uses data from your finger’s pulse and oxygen levels to measure how old you are internally and McLaughlin on Your Side decided to put it to the test.
The iHeart clips onto the end of your finger, takes readings and then an app downloaded on your phone uses the information to determine an aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV).
“It’s testing the stiffness of that big blood vessel by measuring a wave that goes down the aorta from your heart and reflects back,” explained Sarah Goodman, CEO of Vitalsines, the parent company of the iHeart device.
Studies have shown PWV to be a marker of heart health and brain health, while resting heart rate is a strong indicator of your risk for heart problems. The device then uses an algorithm to convert the information into an internal age number.
CTV Morning Live host Keri Adams was our first test subject. Her internal age registered at 37, younger than she actually is.
“Well I kind of wouldn't mind people thinking I'm younger,” laughed Adams.
When Ross McLaughlin used the device, it estimated his internal age at an older 61.
“We turned [the reading] into internal age so people could have an emotional reaction and understand it a bit easier,” said Goodman.
“Sixty-one! I had an emotional reaction,” joked McLaughlin.
At a cost of $195 the gadget is not meant to be a diagnostic tool or a medical device so CTV News contacted a cardiologist to get an expert opinion.
“The vascular age that might come out of a device might be enough to make a change or prompt a patient to make a change,” said Dr. Andrew Freeman of the American College of Cardiology.
Things like yoga and meditation, more exercise or better sleep have all been shown to increase overall health and lower ‘aortic stiffness’.
“If you change different aspects of your life you’ll most likely see that number decrease,” explained Goodman, “It's just a motivational tool for people to make more positive changes.”
Dr. Freeman says more data is needed to assess whether the internal age is valid, but it could be helpful.
“Recently a study came out that showed that people who saw coronary artery calcium on their CAT scan, those people were more likely to make changes in their lifestyle because they saw their own arteries on the screen,” he said.
The jury is still out whether the internal age reading set and developed by VitalSines has any real meaning. However, the company told CTV News the aortic stiffness readings have stood up against a $25,000 device called a Sphygmocor by AtCor Medical in Australia and that the internal age reading was developed by data testing across several different age groups.
“Whether or not there’s a clinical utility to say, you know, you’re vascular age is 50 years old or 52 or 55, I’m not sure at this point,” said Dr. Freeman.
VitalSines says it’s currently working with Ryerson University in Toronto on a larger scale validation study to be published in six months.