Natural antioxidant bilirubin may improve cardiovascular health

Bilirubin, a yellow-orange pigment, is formed after the breakdown of red blood cells and is eliminated by the liver. It’s not only a sign of a bruise, it may provide cardiovascular benefits, according to a large-scale epidemiology study.

A recent analysis of health data from almost 100,000 veterans, both with and without HIV infection, found that within normal ranges, higher levels of bilirubin in the blood were associated with lower rates of heart failure, heart attack and stroke.

The results are published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Several studies have suggested that bilirubin may have beneficial effects, by acting as an antioxidant or interfering with atherosclerosis. The data from the veterans adds to this evidence, and specifically looks at people living with HIV and at an anti-HIV drug, atazanavir, known to elevate bilirubin. The researchers did not see an independent effect of atazanavir on cardiovascular risk.

Full story at Science Daily

Link between IBD and Parkinson’s might allow doctors to slow down condition

Doctors may be able to modify or slow down the progress of the neurological condition Parkinson’s disease in the future by spotting signs of it in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), suggest a study published in the journal Gut.

Danish researchers found patients with IBD appeared to have a 22% greater risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in a study that monitored participants for almost 40 years.

IBD, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic conditions with onset in young adulthood.

It has already been suggested in previous studies that inflammation plays a role in the development of Parkinson’s disease and multiple system atrophy.

Full story at Science Daily

Link between tuberculosis and Parkinson’s disease discovered

The mechanism our immune cells use to clear bacterial infections like tuberculosis (TB) might also be implicated in Parkinson’s disease, according to a new collaborative study led by the Francis Crick Institute, Newcastle University and GSK.

The findings, which will be published in The EMBO Journal, provide a possible explanation of the cause of Parkinson’s disease and suggest that drugs designed to treat Parkinson’s might work for TB too.

Parkinson’s protein

The most common genetic mutation in Parkinson’s disease patients is in a gene called LRRK2, which makes the LRRK2 protein overactive.

Full story at Science Daily

Study: Street-level air pollution increases health risk among elderly

A new study published today in the journal Environmental Health shows that differences in traffic-related air pollution are associated with higher rates of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease in the elderly. Scientists from Environmental Defense Fund and Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Division of Research combined data from the nonprofit’s block-by-block study of air pollution in Oakland, CA, with 6 years of electronic health records from more than 40,000 local residents to evaluate the impacts of air quality between neighbors, people who live on the same street or within a few blocks of each other at an unprecedented resolution.

Specifically, the study shows that 3.9 parts per billion higher NO2 concentrations are associated with a 16 percent increased risk of diagnosed heart attacks, surgery or death from heart disease among the elderly and 0.36 microgram per meter cube higher black carbon concentrations are associated with a 15 percent increased risk of having a cardiac event and/or dying from coronary heart disease among the same population.

The effect estimates of street-level neighborhood differences in long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution on cardiovascular events in the general population of adults, were consistent with results found in previous studies, though not statistically significant. The associations among the elderly add to a growing body of evidence indicating higher susceptibility to air pollution.

Full story at edf.org

Reaching Out to Baby Boomers on National Hepatitis Testing Day

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that can lead to a chronic infection and damage to the liver. Chronic hepatitis C infection is curable in most cases, but many people living with hepatitis C do not know they are infected and are not accessing treatment that can prevent disease progression and liver damage, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.

According to the CDC, approximately 75 percent of all people who are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus in the United States are baby boomers who were born between 1945 and 1965. This age group also experiences one of the highest death rates from the virus. As these individuals grow older and live longer with undiagnosed hepatitis C virus infection, they are increasingly likely to develop severe liver disease and liver cancer.

May 19, National Hepatitis Testing Day, offers an opportunity to reach new groups, to raise awareness of hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and to encourage more individuals to learn their status. The CDC recommends that all adults born between 1945 and 1965 receive one-time testing for the hepatitis C virus. By testing and diagnosing all baby boomers with chronic hepatitis C virus, we can care for and cure many, averting at least 120,000 deaths, according to one CDC estimate.

Full story at acl.gov

Artificial Intelligence improves stroke and dementia diagnosis in most common brain scan

Machine learning has detected one of the commonest causes of dementia and stroke, in the most widely used form of brain scan (CT), more accurately than current methods.

New software, created by scientists at Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh, has been able to identify and measure the severity of small vessel disease, one of the commonest causes of stroke and dementia. The study, published in Radiology, took place at Charing Cross Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Researchers say that this technology can help clinicians to administer the best treatment to patients more quickly in emergency settings — and predict a person’s likelihood of developing dementia. The development may also pave the way for more personalised medicine.

Full story at Science Daily

What to Look for in a Geriatric Care Manager

WHEN OLDER ADULTS CAN no longer care for themselves, it’s usually up to their family members to take over the responsibility. But it’s hard to know where to begin managing the care of someone who has chronic health conditions, requires frequent doctor visits and needs assistance at home – which may be in another town. “Families are often overwhelmed and ask, ‘What do we do? How do we handle this?’” says Nancy Avitabile, president of the board of directors of the Aging Life Care Association.

Avitabile is an aging life care manager (also known as a geriatric care manager), a type of elder care professional trained to jump into these challenging situations and offer solutions, guidance and hands-on management.

“It’s not uncommon for adult children to involve a geriatric care manager when things are getting complicated with a new diagnosis or a change in function or cognition, especially when the family lives far away and they need guidance on which options are available,” says Dr. Christine Ritchie, a geriatrician, palliative care physician and professor at the University of California—San Francisco School of Medicine.

Full story at US News

CMS Seeking Comment on Durable Medical Equipment Interim Final Rule

CMS is seeking comments on an interim final rule that increases payments to suppliers for some DME and enteral nutrition in areas of the country that are not subject to the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DEMPOS) Competitive Bidding Process (CBP). These include rural areas, and Alaska, Hawaii and the territories. From June 1 through December 31, 2018, payments will return to the blended rates that were in effect in 2016.

The change is in response to stakeholder concerns about significant financial challenges created by the current rates for suppliers, as well as concerns that the number of suppliers in certain areas continues to decline. It is projected to result in a $70 million dollar Medicare cost-sharing increase to beneficiaries. This increase may be covered by supplemental insurance programs like Medigap, and for dual eligible beneficiaries, Medicaid pays the cost sharing. However, beneficiaries who do not have supplemental insurance or who are not dual eligible will have increased cost sharing.

Full story at acl.gov

Help Create the Blueprint for Complex Care

States, community-based organizations, and health organizations are increasingly focusing on improving care for people with complex, medical, behavioral and social needs . However, there are many questions around direction, priorities, and shared language. What are the goals and priorities of the complex care field? How can we get everyone who is working on this problem on the same page and ensure that all are at the table?

To answer these questions, the Center for Health Care Strategies is partnering with the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to launch an ambitious project: to develop a Blueprint for Complex Care . The goal of the Blueprint is to serve as a roadmap for the next phase of development in the field. To help build the Blueprint, they are using the Bridgespan Group’s Strong Field Framework for defining and creating “strong” fields of practice.

Full story at acl.gov

Preventing Senior Isolation: Can You Actually Adopt a Senior?

A recent article in The Washington Post focused on the millions of Chinese citizens living alone. There was a particular emphasis on one: Han Zicheng. He literally wanted to be adopted.

Han posted note in a bus shelter. According to the Post, the headline read: “Looking for someone to adopt me.” The text that followed said: “Lonely old man in his 80s. Strong-bodied. Can shop, cook and take care of himself. No chronic illness. I retired from a scientific research institute in Tianjin, with a monthly pension of 6,000 RMB [$950] a month.”

A woman saw the note and posted it on social media, and Han received extensive media coverage. Unfortunately, he died March 17 – his death mostly unnoticed, his adoption just a dream.

Full story at US Health News