We all want to live longer. But it is quality of life, not length, that matters; we want to live healthy lives. And one of the main ways of doing this is by investing in our health. This is the philosophy of Prof. Valerio Sanguigni, cardiologist and lecturer in Internal Medicine at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. «Cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction and cerebral infarction in particular, are the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 40% of all deaths,” explains Professor Sanguigni.
These figures speak for themselves and clearly show that embracing a healthy lifestyle at an early age is the best way to ensure that we can enjoy a longer old age. One of the most important issues being investigated by researchers studying longevity today involves trying to discover why some of the world's populations have such high percentages of ultra-centenarians in good health. In fact, the residents of places like Vicabamba (Ecuador), Hunza (Kashmir), Tibet, Abkhazia (Caucasus), and Okinawa (Japan) live longer, healthier lives than nearly everyone else. Various studies have shown that the reasons for their longevity are linked to lifestyle, and to diet in particular.
The inhabitants in these areas all eat large quantities of fruit and vegetable containing polyphenols and antioxidants capable of reducing damage caused by free radicals, improving oxygen supply to organs and slowing down the aging process. By eating fruit and vegetables at least 5 or 6 times a day and exercising regularly it is possible to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 30%. Prof. Sanguigni encourages his patients to make lifestyle changes that will contribute to the prevention of diseases. «If doctors prescribe treatment without taking lifestyle into consideration, they are unlikely to obtain the results they hope for», he explains.
His many years spent receiving patients in his Roman surgery have taught him the importance of establishing a relationship of trust and empathy because, as he explains, «every prescription should be tailored to the patient’s needs. All too often we give the same treatment to patients with very different pathologies.» In his consultations, the focus is on listening to the patients in order to find out more about them, about their habits and lifestyles. His aim is to create a empathetic situation and relationship of trust with his patients that will allow them to open up and discuss their problems without holding back.
As well as the observation and listening skills that are key to good consultation practice, GPs need to keep their medical knowledge up to date. Medicine evolves at an increasingly fast rate and doctors need to be informed about the advances and discoveries being made all over the world. «Communication with patients and continuing professional development are an important part of our practice.
They are both key aspects that must constantly be taken into account.» Experience and knowledge of patients can guide doctors in their analysis of data produced by innovative instrumentation and provide them with support for their decision-making process. Today’s technology produces a vast body of data that requires skilled assessment: «Today there is often an excessive reliance on diagnostics that causes some doctors to order too many tests. What makes a good doctor,» explains Sanguigni, «is the ability to analyse and interpret the data produced by instrumentation. This is the “value added” that we have to be capable of offering.» Sanguigni, who has a medical degree from the University of Rome La Sapienza (dissertation on the echocardiographic assessment of professional athletes) and specialisation in cardiology, is a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, and author of numerous articles in the leading international scientific journals: his curriculum speaks for itself, but Valerio Sanguigni’s work goes far beyond the medical and academic field. Thanks to his vast knowledge of cardiovascular diseases and awareness of the importance of diet in cardiovascular prevention, he has decided to create a blend of nutrients rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that would slow down the aging process.
After years of research and thanks to his collaboration with a chemist, he has deposited a patent for “Powellnux”, a cream based on a mixture of dark cocoa, hazelnuts, honey and green tea. «My aim was to create something that would be good for you as well as tasting good». And he has been successful on both counts. The analysis of the data resulting from a recently published study involving a group of healthy subjects reveals a 25% improvement in their physical performance after ingesting the Powellnux food supplement thanks to its antioxidant effect and improvement of vasodilation. An even more interesting fact emerging from a number of ongoing studies concerns patients affected by hypertension who were able to reduce their dosage of antihypertensive medication after supplementing their diet with Powellnux. The product will soon be launched on the market as a gelato and bar.
Sanguigni is extremely satisfied with the results attained: «I am convinced that everyone will soon realise the importance of this product both in maintaining fitness and in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. After all, as I love to remind people, this is the first “natural food-medicine”».
Interview published in: "Corriere dell'Economia"