Titled the “City of Health,” Sheba is taking the lead in promoting health by establishing a new Longevity Center, set to open in September 2023. Spearheaded by Prof. Tzipi Strauss, Director of Neonatology and a pediatric physician, the center will bring together experts from internal medicine, endocrinology, gynecology, geriatrics, and brain science to tackle the challenge of aging. With a focus on disease-free longevity, the center aims to maintain the health of patients across the globe for as long as possible.
“When I was 47 I began having issues with sleep,” shared Prof. Strauss. I started reading about menopause and about 20-30% of women suffer from sleep issues. That’s when I got the longevity bug.”
Longevity Center: Beyond Prevention
As the largest medical facility in the Middle East and a global leader in healthcare innovation, Sheba has long been committed to preventive medicine and continues to pioneer new approaches to improve patient outcomes and advance the field of medicine.
“We already have amazing preventative screening programs, and patients already come for whole body screens once a year,” says Strauss. “But this is not longevity medicine. It is more about checking if you have cancer or cardiovascular disease or any other problem you may have. Longevity is all about risk assessment – how to maintain high performance, how to prevent decline, how to improve muscle mass, cognition or sleep, all of which will affect your health in the end.”
Inspired by the groundbreaking research being conducted at top institutions around the world, Prof. Strauss became convinced that longevity services needed to be made more accessible to the wider public. “We agreed that we should be doing longevity at Sheba because of its vision of promoting health,” she says. “The Hebrew word for hospital means ‘home for the sick’ but we want to become a ‘city of health’ – not only taking care of sick people but offering proactive medicine and health education. Longevity is about improving healthspan along with lifespan, and this exactly fits our vision.”
Democratizing Longevity Medicine
After spending almost a year researching the developments in longevity, Prof. Strauss has recognized the benefits of offering affordable longevity services in a public hospital. The center’s goal is to make longevity accessible to more people by democratizing it, as opposed to being limited to private clinics that may be costly. The focus on affordability means that during the pilot program’s first year, patients can expect services to be provided at a very low cost.
Longevity Center: Assessment, Intervention, Research
The Longevity Center at Sheba will cover everything from cognitive and physical to mental factors. The work of the longevity center will be largely divided into three key areas: clinical assessment and intervention, technology and innovation, and research.
Individuals over the age of 40 will be eligible to receive the center’s treatments. A visit to the center will last about 4.5 hours, with all tests and treatments conducted under one roof. Following that, the individual will be sent home with a sleeping monitor, asked to complete a questionnaire and return after 3-4 weeks.
After all the data has been collected, a multidisciplinary discussion will be held and the team will recommend a course of action and schedule follow-ups. This will be followed by validated interventions, based on the assessments. “If you’re not sleeping well, we will give you interventions that are already validated for that. And then, of course, we do the follow-up to ensure that what we are doing is having the right effect,” Prof Strauss explains.
The program also conducts longevity-related research and collects valuable patient data, which can help optimize patient health and prevent the decline in their last years of life.“As a medical center, we already gather a lot of data on our patients, which is extremely valuable because we can continue to follow them and see how the data changes over time,” says Strauss.
Longevity Center: Educating for A Healthier Future
Life expectancy has increased by three decades since the mid-twentieth century. Meanwhile, healthspan expansion has, however, not followed, largely impeded by the pandemic of chronic diseases afflicting a growing older population. The lag in quality of life is a recognized challenge that calls for prioritization of disease-free longevity. “We need to educate physicians and change the way they think about healthcare”, argues Prof. Strauss. Sheba’s Longevity Center aims to revolutionize modern medicine by educating physicians about longevity medicine, which is currently an unfamiliar field for many.
To achieve this, Prof. Strauss plans to partner with Longevity Education to develop courses that will be integrated into the curriculum at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Medicine and School of Public Health. With initiatives like this, Sheba’s Longevity Center will be able to pave the way for longevity medicine to become standard practice in healthcare.