An Illustrative Longevity Medicine Case Study With Karen Darke

An illustrative longevity medicine case study with Karen Darke

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We are delighted to present to you a case study with British paralympic cyclist, Karen Darke, that will demonstrate an example patient journey using one of our longevity medicine pathways. This very unique insight will hopefully answer a lot of questions about how this area of medicine works both logistically, as well as clinically; providing you with an opportunity to take a peek into what our treatment plans can look like for patients when they come to see us.

In recent years innovative, and forward thinking practitioners, scientists and researchers have begun to shift their focus towards understanding what determines healthy ageing, healthspan, and more importantly, how we can best utilise this new science to change our approach to healthcare. For those new to the longevity space, ‘healthspan’ is a relatively new term, and one that refers to the amount of years in your life where you feel in good health. Our longevity medicine consultations are medically-led by expert doctors that specialise in early detection and prevention of age-related decline; and we use a proactive approach to health instead of the traditional reactive healthcare model.

We hope that by presenting this case study we are able to inspire you to learn more about the importance of longevity medicine, healthspan and taking proactive steps to age well, so that you can find a place for healthy ageing within your own life.

Patient introduction

Meet Karen Darke, a British paralympic cyclist, paratriathlete, adventurer and author. Karen began her working life as a geologist in the Bolivian Andes, researching gold, but a life-changing accident left her paralysed from the chest down. She then moved away from being a ‘rock-doctor’ to exploring both outside as well as within. A keen adventure, she has travelled extensively, writing about her adventures for others to enjoy and gain inspiration.

We connected with Karen as she has a keen interest in longevity medicine, and she is specifically interested in helping to find ways to support others that have a spinal cord injury. We are inspired by Karen’s sense of adventure, curiosity and desire to help others.

Karen is very interested in placing the power back with the patient, matching our own philosophy of helping the body to help itself. After a discussion with Karen we learned that she is keen to focus on the longer-term health issues that arise for those with a spinal cord injury. Those that are paralysed will inevitably have health considerations that differ from those without this type of injury. Longevity medicine at its very core is precision-based medicine, that places the individual at the centre. We hope that by addressing longer term health concerns for those that have had a spinal cord injury, that we can begin to show what patients can do using longevity medicine to support their health.

Karen’s case study goals

  • To obtain personalised insight about how best to support with healthy ageing
  • Learning where best to place her focus with regards to the varying longevity medicine practices
  • Would like to learn and then highlight about the longer-term health concerns that are specific to those with a spinal cord injury

We will follow Karen’s journey with us as she completes a longevity medicine Comprehensive Consultation pathway which will look to address her current health concerns and symptoms, as well as optimise her health, healthspan and longevity!

“I am excited to be a case study for Harpal Clinic’s holistic approach to healthcare, finding root causes, combining functional and longevity medicine with stress and lifestyle methods. My initial consultation explored my own health, as well as helping me to consider some of the broader issues that can impact us with a spinal cord injury”

Karen Darke

Karen Darke

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Initial Longevity Comprehensive Consultation | June 2024

Female, 53 years old, paralympic athlete

Patient goals

  • Interested in being more proactive about her health
  • Concerned about recent high blood calcium
  • Would like to optimise energy levels
  • Address recurring migraines
  • Curious about her hormone health

Initial consultation observations

  • Paralysed from the chest down following an accident, aged 21
  • Has a permanent urinary catheter

Complaints and concerns

  • Occasional migraines
  • Reported high blood calcium levels (already under investigation)
  • Frequent antibiotic use for UTI (urinary tract infection)
  • Menopausal
  • Asymptomatic Syringomyelia
  • Feels as though she holds tension in jaw and neck
  • Mindful of skin sores
  • Slow gastric motility

Past History

  • History of candida overgrowth – reduced dietary sugars and implemented supplement regime
  • Previously low in vitamin D and anaemia
  • Kidney stones
  • Previous bloating – now is better

Current habits

  • Taking low dose oestrogen in patch form
  • Daily exercise using weights and completes cardio 1-4 hours per day currently
  • Medium coffee intake
  • History of elevated stress
  • Sleep is generally good – less so in past couple of years
  • Diet is low in carbohydrates and processed foods
  • Fresh vegetables daily and meat 3 times per week
  • Eats fish once per week
  • Tends not to have dairy – replaced with oat milk
  • Very low alcohol consumption
  • Addresses diet to to reduce incidence of UTI
  • Non-smoker


  • Hormone blood test panel (blood draw)
  • Nutrient Core DNA (cheek swab)
  • GutID – Core Gut Insights (stool test)

Doctor’s initial opinion prior to receiving test results

  • Potential for longer term skin and bladder issues which are of key concern
  • For bladder issues – this is currently out of our remit; but there is a case of helping the body help itself here too. We can help to improve immunity so that the patient can fight infections better
  • For skin issues – this is likely to be an ongoing issue which will always require care and management. This will be resource heavy, and by resource, I mean the things that our body needs to expedite healing. Nutrients play a crucial role here, and instead of simply taking supplements I would like to target this further by looking at her individual needs for nutrients with a DNA nutrient test. From personal experience, I know that this can significantly change things and it will likely save money in the longer run as we are more targeted in our management
  • Recurrent antibiotic use, which at present, does not seem to impact her but it would be good to explore her gut diversity
  • Decrease the amount of exercise or be more aware of the amount of exercise completed. It is my belief that there is likely overuse contributing to other symptoms such as migraines and headaches. I’m also curious as to why there’s a need to spend so much time exercising – something I would like to explore more in our follow up consultation
  • Stress management needs more targeted management

Update | July 2024

Testing has been ordered by our specialist patient care team, and results should be back with us in the next few weeks.

Let’s talk about how we can help you

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