“If you are 85 [years old] compared to 30, your risk of having a heart attack is a thousand times greater…” – James L. Kirkland, MD, PhD
During his recent visit here at the University of Pennsylvania, James L. Kirkland, MD, PhD, Director of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and our first IOA Visiting Scholar of the new year, explained that the biggest risk factor for major aging-related conditions is simply the age of the individual itself.
As a clinical geriatrician, Dr. Kirkland treats many older adults with these chronic aging-related diseases such as dementia, cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, and osteoarthritis, all of which are driving forces behind most health costs and mortality.
- $10,082 = Average medical cost for people 65 years and older.
- $3,931 = Average medical cost for people younger than 65.
- According to a 2012 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey
On the research side of things, Dr. Kirkland focuses on cellular senescence and targeting the fundamental aging processes that are at the root of these diseases. More specifically, he is looking at whether targeting these fundamental processes can delay, prevent, alleviate, or treat aging-related chronic diseases as a group, rather than targeting one at a time. The underlying, and most important, goal here would be to increase healthspan, not just lifespan.
Learn more about Dr. Kirkland’s research here and in the video interview below.