Monday, April 25, 2011

Fat Hormone May Protect Against Alzheimer’s

New research from Boston University School of Medicine was conducted because there has been some data relating body weight to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Looking at animal studies, scientists found some data to indicate that leptin not only produces a feeling of satiety but also has a beneficial effect on the hippocampus. They noted that it was important to see if that was true in humans.

The hippocampus is a portion of the brain that plays a role in important aspects of memory.

Some human studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of leptin, but those studies didn’t show which came first, the lower leptin levels or the decline in mental function.

Leptin levels had been measured in 785 study participants in the early 1990s. For the new study, 198 of them had MRI scans that measured brain volume an average of 7.7 years after leptin was measured. The study authors also kept track of new Alzheimer’s diagnoses among the study participants.

The researchers found that higher leptin levels were associated with a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s and all other forms of dementia. The 25 percent of participants with the lowest leptin levels had a 25 percent risk of developing Alzheimer’s over a 12-year period; the incidence was only 6 percent for those with the highest leptin levels. And lower leptin levels were associated with a greater decrease in total brain size.

Another report issued today described disappointing results in a trial of a once-promising drug to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The drug, tarenflurbil, was designed to reduce production of amyloid, a protein that forms plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The study of 1,684 people who began taking the drug in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease showed no benefit, the report said.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Smoking Increases Risk of Blindness In Old Age

AMD causes a darkening and/or blurring of central vision, and prevents you from being able to read, drive and recognize people you know. It is a progressive degeneration of the macula, the centre of the retina, the part of the membrane inside the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details.

Advanced AMD with loss of vision affects about 1.75 million Americans: this figure is expected to rise to just under 3 million by 2020 according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance. “Smoking is the second most common risk factor for AMD; age is the first,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the trade group. “The medical experts show it is never too late to find a reason to quit.”

Researchers at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and colleagues wanted to find out whether age was linked to the effect of smoking on AMD risk. The research provides the first accurate snapshot of how smoking affects AMD risk later in life.

For the study, researchers compared the retinal photographs of nearly 2,000 women taken at age 78 and 83, looked for signs of AMD and then did logistical regression statistical tests to find out whether smoking affected the women’s risk of developing the disease.

They found that smokers had 11 per cent higher rates of AMD than the non-smokers of the same age. But among those over age 80, the smokers were 5.5 times more likely to develop AMD than the non-smokers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

People Who Look Young For Their Age Tend To Live Longer

According to researchers, doctors frequently use perceived age as a general indication of a patient’s health. They note however, that there is little research upon which to base validity of the belief.

Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark, examined whether perceived age is linked with survival. They investigated important age related traits, such as physical and mental (cognitive) functioning and a molecular biomarker of aging (leukocyte telomere length).

Telomere length indicates the ability of the body’s cells to reproduce. Shorter length is associated with a host of diseases related to aging, lifestyle factors and death.

A total of 1,826 Danish twins aged 70 years and over underwent physical and cognitive tests in the spring of 2001. Their faces were also photographed. Assessors rated the perceived age of the twins from their facial photographs. The assessors did not know the age range of the twins. In addition, each twin of a pair had their age assessed on different days.

Following the assessments, death records were used to track the survival of the twins over a seven year period. Perceived age was significantly associated with longer life survival. This was true even after adjusting for chronological age, sex, and the environment in which each pair of twins grew up. Perceived age, adjusted for chronological age and sex, also correlated with physical and cognitive functioning as well as leukocyte telomere length.

Also, the bigger the difference in perceived age within a twin pair, the more likely it was that the older looking twin died first. The age, sex and professional background of the assessors had no relevance to any of the results.

The researchers concluded that perceived age based on facial photographs is a strong biomarker of ageing. It predicts survival among people aged 70 years and over and correlates with important functional and molecular age related characteristics.

Report gathered by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Taking Blood Pressure Medication Cuts Dying Risk

A study of U.S. Medicaid patients found that the more closely a person adhered to his or her doctor’s recommendations for filling their blood pressure medication prescription, the lower his or her risk of stroke and death.

Stroke is one of the primary reasons older individuals require long-term care acciording to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance which tracks medical research that impacts individuals.

Taking just one more pill as recommended each week (from a one-a-day regimen) cut stroke risk by 9 percent and death risk by 7 percent, researchers with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The medical experts studied the medical records of about 49,000 Tennessee Medicaid patients for 1994 to 2000 to determine if blood pressure medication refill adherence or frequency of physician visits influenced risk of stroke or death. The researchers also investigated whether the type of blood pressure-lowering drugs a patient took was associated with stroke or risk of dying.

Patients were taking two different types of blood pressure drug on average, although some were taking as many as six. Sixty percent of the patients filled their prescriptions less than 80 percent of the time, and were classified as non-adherent to their medication.

During follow-up, which ranged from 3 to 7 years, 619 study participants had a stroke and 2,051 died.

Patients who were non-adherent were a half-percent more likely to die over a five-year period compared to adherent patients. Blood pressure drugs known as thiazide diuretics, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and beta blockers all cut death risk by 3 to 4 percent, while thiazide diuretics also cut stroke risk.

Patients in the study averaged about five doctor office visits a year, although there was a wide range, with some not seeing a doctor at all and others logging nearly 90 visits a year. Patients who visited the doctor more often were 1 percent less likely to die.