American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month . According to the American Heart Association , approximately 85 million adults (greater than 1 in 3) have cardiovascular disease; more than 43 million adults age 60 and older are impacted.  Additionally, about two-thirds of cardiovascular disease-related deaths occur in people age 75 and older.

With support from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), organizations across the country are offering proven programs to help people better manage chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Since 2010, more than 340,000 individuals have participated in chronic disease self-management education (CDSME) and self-management support programs. More than 60% of participants indicate having multiple chronic health conditions, including nearly 42% with hypertension and approximately 15% with heart disease.

Full story at acl.gov

For-profit medicine incentivizes overmedicating our elderly rather than caring for them

As the “gray wave” of aging baby boomers crowd into the country’s creaking long-term care system, many of them may unexpectedly end up in nursing home where anti-psychotic medication, rather than comprehensive social and mental health services, have become a standard way for some residential institutions to maintain order.

Yet, according to human rights investigators, anti-psychotic drugs are often administered to residents not with a doctor’s prescription, but the management’s. So-called “chemical restraints” have become a routine “fix” for behavioral problems, such as those who “resist” staff’s orders, or for dementia patients with a habit of wandering off. In reality, deliberately over-medicating elderly patients is not designed to help them as much as to help an overwhelmed workforce of clinicians struggling to care for too many patients with too little time and funding.

But the seemingly efficient solution comes at the expense of seniors’ human rights.

Full story at NBC News

Stretchable electronics a ‘game changer’ for stroke recovery treatment

A groundbreaking new wearable designed to be worn on the throat could be a game-changer in the field of stroke rehabilitation.

Developed in the lab of Northwestern University engineering professor John A. Rogers, in partnership with Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the sensor is the latest in Rogers’ growing portfolio of stretchable electronics that are precise enough for use in advanced medical care and portable enough to be worn outside the hospital, even during extreme exercise.

Rogers will present research on the implications of stretchable electronics for stroke recovery treatment on Feb. 17, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

Full story at Science Daily

Two Funding Opportunities Open for Traumatic Brain Injury State Partnership Program

ACL’s Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) State Partnership Program is announcing two new funding opportunities.

The purpose of the program is to create and strengthen a system of services and supports that maximizes the independence, well-being, and health of persons with TBI across the lifespan, their families, and their caregivers. The goal is two-fold: to allow states to strengthen and group their capacity to support and maintain a system of services and supports that will help people with TBI; and learn from and call upon the expertise of states that have built and maintained a strong and sophisticated state TBI infrastructure.

TBI State Partnership Program Partner State Grants – These grants will provide funding to states for building and enhancing basic infrastructure of TBI supports and services. Applicants must agree to provide the required 2:1 state match; support a state TBI advisory council; provide at least one dedicated staff person at 50% FTE; create an annual TBI state plan; create and/or expand a state TBI registry; and work with one or more Mentor States to increase the applicant’s capacity to provide access to comprehensive and coordinated services for individuals with TBI and their families.

Full story at acl.gov

Eating yogurt may reduce cardiovascular disease risk

A new study in the American Journal of Hypertension, published by Oxford University Press, suggests that higher yogurt intake is associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk among hypertensive men and women.

High blood pressure is a major cardiovascular disease risk factor. Clinical trials have previously demonstrated beneficial effects of dairy consumption on cardiovascular health. Yogurt may independently be related to cardiovascular disease risk.

High blood pressure affects about one billion people worldwide but may also be a major cause of cardiovascular health problems. Higher dairy consumption has been associated with beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease-related comorbidities such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance.

Full story at Science Daily

Could a History of Childhood Abuse Be Contributing to Your Depression?

The ripple effects of childhood abuse extend well beyond the immediate time surrounding the abuse and can continue to cause significant disruption throughout a person’s life, even if on the surface things seem calm.

Studies show that so-called adverse childhood experiences – stressful or traumatic events including physical, emotional or sexual abuse and physical or emotional neglect – can raise the risk of everything from substance abuse and mental health issues to sleep disruption, obesity, heart attack and diabetes and even shortened lifespan. Research has found childhood abuse is associated with depression not only in kids, adolescents and young adults, but in later life as well.

“Time just doesn’t magically heal,” says Adria Pearson-Mauro, an assistant professor of family medical and psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and a clinical psychologist at CU’s Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center in Aurora. She says these kinds of threats and the impact they can have on neurodevelopment of someone who is abused as a child physically or sexually always matter. “It doesn’t become less important with age,” Pearson-Mauro says.

Full story at US News

Battling Pervasive Ageism

Older people who have negative views about their aging live on average 7.5 years less than people with positive attitudes. In fact, they walk more slowly, experience memory problems and recover less fully from a fall or fracture, among other things. Their attitude literally pulls them down.

And yet, how can older people help feeling negative, especially given how pervasive ageism is in the worldwide culture? In the World Values Survey” analyzed by the World Health Organization, 60 percent of respondents reported that older people are not respected. The lowest levels of respect came from the highest income countries.

New York Times reporter Frank Bruni saw ageism in action when he met Nancy Root on a cruise. Despite her high intellect, curiosity and determination, she was alienated by others. It’s a compelling story and shows ageism (and disability) in action.

Full story at US News Health

Doctors Learn How To Talk To Patients About Dying

Lynn Black’s mother-in-law, who had lupus and lung cancer, was rushed into a hospital intensive care unit last summer with shortness of breath. As she lay in bed, intubated and unresponsive, a parade of doctors told the family “all good news.”

A cardiologist reported the patient’s heart was fine. An oncologist announced that the substance infiltrating her lungs was not cancer. An infectious-disease doctor assured the family, “We’ve got her on the right antibiotic.”

With each doctor’s report, Black recalled, most of her family “felt this tremendous sense of relief.”

But Black, a doctor herself, knew the physicians were avoiding the truth: “She’s 100 percent dying.”

Full story at The Washington Post

What Are the Signs Your Aging Parents Need Help?

Every year at this time, Paula Falk receives an influx of calls from adult children concerned about the decline of their elderly parents. “They visited at the holidays and saw the reality of their parents’ situation, which is much different than what Mom or Dad had been describing on the phone,” says Falk, director of caregiving services at the Friendship Centers in Sarasota, Florida. It’s a nonprofit comprehensive senior center that caters to one of the country’s largest retirement populations.

The phenomenon isn’t limited to regions rich with retirees. America is getting older, with adults 65 or older comprising about 15 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, according to the Pew Research Center.

But older adults typically prize their independence and may not let on that they need help. “Sometimes you’re shocked when you visit,” says Dr. Michael Perskin, a geriatrician at NYU Langone Health. “You walk into a parent’s house and the bathrooms are dirty or there’s no food in the refrigerator. That represents a change.”

Full story at US News

Eye could provide ‘window to the brain’ after stroke

Research into curious bright spots in the eyes on stroke patients’ brain images could one day alter the way these individuals are assessed and treated. A team of scientists at the National Institutes of Health found that a chemical routinely given to stroke patients undergoing brain scans can leak into their eyes, highlighting those areas and potentially providing insight into their strokes. The study was published in Neurology.

“We were kind of astounded by this — it’s a very unrecognized phenomenon,” said Richard Leigh, M.D., an assistant clinical investigator at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the paper’s senior author. “It raises the question of whether there is something we can observe in the eye that would help clinicians evaluate the severity of a stroke and guide us on how best to help patients.”

Full story at Science Daily