How Health Nucleus Keeps People Living Longer, Healthier Lives
By Michael Levin
Ask people if they would like to live to the age of 90, or even past the century mark, and the answer is almost always the same:“Not if I don’t have a great quality of life, and I probably wouldn’t, so no thanks.”
But what if you could live not just a long life but a healthy one as well?
Most people associate longevity with three things—good genes, blind luck, and miserable, ongoing illness. But the folks at Health Nucleus don’t see it that way.
The San Diego-based “well care” firm operates from the premise that, as Dr. Spock used to say, you can, in fact, live long and prosper. Healthy longevity is available to those willing to take proper care of themselves and at the same time find out what’s really going on in their bodies.
Health Nucleus offers a Jetsons-like array of tests to its clients, ranging from bloodwork, MRI, and CT scans to an ultrasound of the heart, the compiling of one’s entire genome, and a brain scan. The goal: To identify critical and often fatal issues long before they can cause sudden or protracted suffering and death.
“We can catch the brain aneurysm four or five years before it explodes,” says Health Nucleus CEO David Karow, an MD, PhD, and MBA. “We can find blockages in the heart years before they cause heart attacks or require surgery. Same with cancer, prostate, lungs, you name it. The information is available if you test thoroughly enough for it.”
Karow has little regard for “executive health” check-ups, which he regards as only slightly more useful than sticking out one’s tongue and saying ah. Instead, his company focuses on creating deep data to identify where clients are in their wellness journeys and what they can do to optimize their health.
Karow says that two groups of people primarily find their way to Health Nucleus: People in their 50s and 60s who want to extend their lives as well as younger individuals who are looking to maximize their health and fitness.
“Some of the tests are things you’ll see in any healthcare setting—an MRI, a CT scan, and so on,” David Karow says. “Others are homegrown. But no one does a deeper dive into the data showing the healthcare status of their patients or clients than we do.”
Karow speaks of “longevity escape velocity,” a term coined by X Prize creator and Health Nucleus backer Peter Diamandis. The basic idea is that if medical research can add one year to your life for every year you live, you can, at least theoretically, live forever.
“The real key to longevity escape velocity,” Karow laughs, “is just to stay alive for the next five years. Where we’re going from here in terms of medical breakthroughs is just incredible.”
I went through the Platinum process at Health Nucleus last week and spent four hours getting tested from stem to stern. The staff, many of whom who are ex-military, were as courteous and professional as you could ask for. The office suite feels like an Admirals Club lounge, catering as the company does to a high-end clientele. You’ve got your own private dressing room/suite for the length of your stay, where you can rest up between tests, if you so desire.
The staff put me through my paces—the CT scans, the 90-minute MRI, the brain ultrasound, the bloodwork, the whole package deal. I was able to see my entire skeleton, which was quite an awakening. I was also able to review, on the spot, the results of my imaging with a staff radiologist. I’ll wear a heart monitor for the next 10 days and then, after the bloodwork comes back and my genome is sequenced, I’ll have a follow-up call with a staff physician, in roughly seven weeks.
The good news was that the immediate news was good. No calcium in the arteries, no problems with prostate, lungs, or anything else. The highlight: I tested in the 99th percentile for brain function among men my age (despite what my wife may tell you about me).
Health Nucleus looks to have clients return on an annual basis to be retested and have results compared with their initial baseline assessment. The goal is essentially to age without aging – to grow older without compromising one’s health, mental acuity, or ability to perform at work, in athletics, or in any other aspect of one’s life.
“You can’t just take tests and expect to live forever,” Karow cautions. “You’ve got to eat right, get appropriate exercise, and above all, sleep long enough and well enough to allow your body to do the repair work that keeps you going strong. One of our biggest problems in society is that people are sleeping poorly. If you aren’t working out, you don’t tire, and if you aren’t tired, of course you’ll sleep badly. So we aren’t a silver bullet that replaces self-care. Our process enables you to maximize the benefits of the proper care you take of yourself.”
Karow starts his day with a serious workout and winds down with an hour of yoga. “We’re trying to get people away from the idea that they’ve got to be on meds to be healthy. You don’t need statins or heart medication if you’ve got a healthy heart to begin with. But you’ve got to know where you are in terms of heart health, brain health, and so on, so that you can live without meds and enjoy your life fully.”
Longevity escape velocity may be just a dream for now, and there’s always the danger of being hit by a bus or being shot by a jealous lover on one’s hundredth birthday. But short of those calamaties, anyone who wants to know the real truth about his or her innards ought to make their way to San Diego and let Health Nucleus take an extended peek under the hood.