2012 Volume 39 Issue 4 Pages 549-557
The concept of “anti-aging medicine” as a means of intervening in and controlling the aging process is a relatively new medical field. One of the major aims of anti-aging medicine is to reduce susceptibility to diseases and death caused by aging. In that sense, anti-aging medicine is a further development of “preventive medicine”, which relies on various forms of medical support to reduce or remove negative changes, both physical and mental, due to increasing age.
The purpose of anti-aging health check-ups is to extend healthy life expectancy as well as longevity. Thus, a check-up can only be called an “anti-aging” check-up if the person undergoing it also receives proper health guidance based on the results of the examination. Tokai University Tokyo Hospital started offering anti-aging health check-ups in June 2006, since when more than 1,100 people have received one. We have confirmed clear improvements in age-related changes following guidance for a number of items.
The ultimate target of preventive medicine is to promote health and longevity through medical intervention, such as various tests and health guidance before the occurrence of problems, or in asymptomatic periods. It is classified into primary prevention, secondary prevention and tertiary prevention, depending on the timing and stage of intervention. Currently, for example, the most widely implemented health check-up imposed under administrative guidance or received voluntarily corresponds to secondary prevention aimed at “early discovery and early treatment”. It mainly involves detecting already contracted diseases and treating them. Anti-aging is a form of medicine that intervenes in the “tendency” for disease to occur as people grow older, and combats it. It positions aging itself as “a preparatory state for the occurrence of disease”, and aims to circumvent or mitigate that state before problems occur. As a result, anti-aging activity starts while the subject is healthy, or before the onset of symptoms, and has a strong characteristic of primary prevention, including behavioral goals and life principles.
This review article explains anti-aging medicine and health check-ups from the viewpoint of a doctor who has worked in the field of preventive medicine, focusing on examination items, health guidance, problems and future prospects.