“When I was 47 I began having issues with sleep,” said Prof. Tzipi Strauss, Director of Neonatology and Pediatric Physician at Sheba Hospital during her interview with CTech at the 2022 Global Wellness summit. “I had never had a problem with sleep before so I went to a psychologist, however, nothing was wrong with me. I found that even though I still got my period I was entering menopause. I began reading about menopause and about 20-30% of women suffer from sleep issues. That’s when I got the longevity bug.”
In the past century, human life expectancy has almost double, with people aged 65 years or older to represent nearly 20% of the world’s population by 2050. However, healthspan expansion has not increased at the same rate due to chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and dementia.
“As Sheba is considered a city of health and the idea is to promote health, I thought this is our mission and thankfully my CEO has an entrepreneurial spirit and said ‘let’s go’,” added Strauss. “So I began building the longevity center. But, how do you build a new department? Basically you need three T’s: Team, test & technology.
“I began with the team which wasn’t easy, mainly because physicians in regular medicine know nothing about longevity, they don’t even know the word. It is not reactive or preventative medicine – it is proactive medicine which is a new concept for them.”
Sheba’s Healthy Longevity Clinical Center’s advisory team consists of experts in internal medicine, endocrinology, psychogeriatric, gynecology for menopause and brain scientists.
Another challenge for Strauss was to find the right testing. Deciding what are measurable outcomes, and what kind of intervention the center would offer. “In private clinics you can offer supplements where you just don’t know if they work or not. Working with physicians is not easy, they have a tendency to be very narrow minded especially in a hospital and so we don’t want to offer things that are not credible. Deciding what biomarkers we are going to use took time.”
What are the aspects you are looking at?
“Cognitive, sleep, frailty and menopause. We found these four aspects are really connected to longevity. And, if you treat all of them you can really influence the way you age.”
How do you decide who gets accepted to the program?
Strauss smiles. “Anyone over the age of 40 can just register. The cost will be around $500 per year.” When asked why the sum is relatively low, Strauss replied: “Sheba is investing in the center and hopefully we can receive money from grants, research and tech companies that can use it as a beta site. I don’t want to take money from patients. When you are in public health you want diversification in patients, it needs to be applicable for the whole population.”
What is the process?
“An individual will come in for 4.5 hours and it is a one-stop shop. Then they will go home with a sleeping monitor, answer the questionnaire and come back after three weeks to a month. Once we have all the data there will be a multidisciplinary discussion. Finally, they will receive a recommendation and there will be follow ups.”
So when can we expect the center to open?
"We are currently renovating a space inside the hospital and the opening date is expected by September of 2023."
Published November 6, 2022, CTech by Calcalist