Can exercise slow down Alzheimer’s?

A proof-of-concept brain imaging study suggests that exercising four or five times a week may delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in people who already have toxic buildups of beta-amyloid protein.

The new research is a 1-year randomized controlled trial led by Prof. Rong Zhang. The team published their findings in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Prof. Zhang is affiliated with the departments of neurology, neurotherapeutics, and internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas.

Full story at Medical News Today

Staying Healthy Now to Work Into Older Age

While you can take Social Security benefits at age 62 and get 75% of your maximum, waiting until you reach full retirement age (between age 66 and 67 depending on the year you were born) gets you much closer to the full amount. But the age at which Americans can collect the most dollars has inched up to 70.

The problem is that, in general, people today aren’t as healthy during their pre-retirement years as past generations were. Having one or more chronic health conditions, from diabetes to arthritis, can make it harder to keep working through your 60s and, for those who want or need to, beyond.

Though you might see retirement as being in the distant future, taking care of yourself today creates the foundation for a healthier and more productive old age. The American Academy of Family Physicians has seven key lifestyle habits to follow that can get you there.

Full story at US News

Stroke patients relearning how to walk with peculiar shoe

A therapeutic shoe engineered to improve stroke recovery is proving successful and expected to hit the market by the end of the year. Clinical trials have been completed on the U.S. patented and licensed iStride Device, formerly the Gait Enhancing Mobile Shoe (GEMS), with results just published in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation.

Stroke sufferers experience muscle weakness or partial paralysis on one side of the body, which greatly impacts how they walk, known as gait. Gait asymmetry is associated with poor balance, a major cause of degenerative issues that make individuals more susceptible to falls and injuries.

The iStride device is strapped over the shoe of the good leg and generates a backwards motion, exaggerating the existing step, making it harder to walk while wearing the shoe. The awkward movement strengthens the stroke-impacted leg, allowing gait to become more symmetrical once the shoe is removed. The impaired foot wears a matching shoe that remains stationary.

Full story at Science Daily

What’s the Best Age to Move Into a CCRC?

MANY OLDER ADULTS NEED a little assistance as they age, and there’s a spectrum of senior living options available today:

  • Independent living facilities.
  • Assisted living communities.
  • Nursing homes.

These three options can solve the needs of a senior who doesn’t want to live alone at home, needs a little extra help or needs round-the-clock-care. But of course, it’s impossible to know what’s ahead for any of us – especially in terms of our health needs or the challenges we might face. And deciding whether you’ll need to move from an assisted living community into a nursing home one day is a challenge many families face.

Full story at US News

Exercising at home has a positive effect on Parkinson’s patients

Even though exercise is known to be healthy, many people find it difficult to maintain an exercise program for a longer time. This applies even more to people with a chronic illness such as Parkinson’s disease, where physical and mental limitations are additional obstacles. The Park-in-Shape study, funded by ZonMW (Netherlands Organization for Health Research & Development), tested an innovative solution for this challenge. The participants were divided into two groups. Both groups had a motivational app at their disposal, which offered the participants rewards for exercising. The control group only performed stretching exercises, while the active intervention group was instructed to exercise for 30-45 minutes on a stationary bicycle at home, at least three times a week.

The active group’s exercise bikes were also equipped with motivating games, making the program more entertaining and challenging for the participants. For example, the participants could race against their own previous performance — a “ghost rider” — or against a group of other cyclists. The system adjusted the difficulty of the game to the patient’s heartbeat, making the challenge just right. The challenges also became more difficult as the participants got fitter.

Full story at Science Daily

Regulator of first responder cells to brain injury

Astrocytes are the most abundant cells in the brain, yet there is still much to learn about them. For instance, it is known that when the brain is injured or diseased astrocytes are the first responders. They become reactive and play roles that can be both beneficial and deleterious, but little is known about how these diverse responses to injury are regulated. Working with mouse models, a multi-institutional group led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine has identified nuclear factor I-A (NFIA) as a central regulator of both the generation and activity of reactive astrocytes.

Unexpectedly, NFIA’s role seems to depend on the type of injury and on the region of the central nervous system where the injury occurs. The report also begins to define the molecular mechanisms involved, and shows that NFIA also is abundant in reactive astrocytes found in human pediatric and adult neurological injuries, suggesting that NFIA may play similar roles in people. The study appears in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. “Reactive astrocytes are associated with most forms of neurological disorders, from acute injury to degeneration, but their contributions to disease are only now coming to light,” said corresponding author Dr. Benjamin Deneen, professor of neurosurgery and the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at Baylor.

Full story at Science Daily

U.S. News and Caring.com Launch Assisted Living Directory

CHOOSING AN APPROPRIATE assisted living community is a challenging decision for residents and family members alike. To help, U.S. News is now publishing an extensive directory and data resource on nearly 9,000 assisted living communities, in collaboration with Caring.com.

The new Assisted Living directory offers comparison information on key factors including size, location and health services offered for the millions of Americans making this decision each year. Families can use the directory to match the right community to their loved one’s unique needs.

The directory provides comprehensive information about health services, activities and amenities offered at each residence. Reviews from residents and families add perspective for almost all licensed assisted living communities in the U.S. The tool is designed to let individuals easily conduct a customized search for a highly rated facility by location, resident rating, Alzheimer’s and memory care and size.

Full story at US News

Once or twice weekly daytime nap linked to lower heart attack/stroke risk

A daytime nap taken once or twice a week may lower the risk of having a heart attack/stroke, finds research published online in the journal Heart. But no such association emerged for either greater frequency or duration of naps.

The impact of napping on heart health has been hotly contested. Many of the published studies on the topic have failed to consider napping frequency, or focused purely on cardiovascular disease deaths, or compared regular nappers with those not opting for a mini siesta, say the researchers.

In a bid to try and address these issues, they looked at the association between napping frequency and average nap duration and the risk of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease ‘events,’ such as heart attack, stroke, or heart failure, among 3462 randomly selected residents of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Full story at Science Daily

Researchers find alarming risk for people coming off chronic opioid prescriptions

With a huge push to reduce opioid prescribing, little is known about the real-world benefits or risks to patients.

A recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found an alarming outcome: Patients coming off opioids for pain were three times more likely to die of an overdose in the years that followed.

“We are worried by these results, because they suggest that the policy recommendations intended to make opioid prescribing safer are not working as intended,” said lead author Jocelyn James, assistant professor of general internal medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “We have to make sure we develop systems to protect patients.”

Physicians had already begun to reduce opioid prescribing by 2016, when the CDC issued its first guideline on opioid prescribing. That trend accelerated after 2016.

Full story at Science Daily

Polypill holds promise for tackling cardiovascular disease

Heart attacks and strokes are collectively the leading cause of death in most low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) worldwide. Treatment with four drugs — aspirin, a statin, an angiotensin converting-enzyme (ACE)-inhibitor, and a beta blocker — improves survival and quality of life among patients who have had a heart attack or stroke in the past; however, fewer than a quarter of eligible patients in LMICs receive these medications due to concerns about pill burden and cost.

To address this gap, a team of researchers led by Dhruv S. Kazi, MD, MSc, MS, Associate Director of the Smith Center for Outcomes Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) evaluated whether it would be cost-effective to combine several medications into a single “cardiovascular polypill” for patients who have had a previous heart attack or stroke, instead of prescribing the four drugs individually. The findings were published on August 30 in Lancet Global Health.

The researchers built a mathematical model that simulated all adults with a prior heart attack or stroke in five LMICs across a wide range of economic development: India, China, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa. These countries were chosen because they have a large burden of cardiovascular disease in their population. Kazi and colleagues used real-world data to model each country’s current rates of medication use and cardiovascular outcomes, and then examined what would happen if patients currently receiving one or more of the evidence-based therapies for cardiovascular disease were switched to the polypill instead. In this simulation model, the researchers followed individuals for their entire lifetime, keeping track of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths, as well as all health care costs. They also estimated patients’ survival and quality-of-life, allowing them to estimate, for each country, a metric called the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (or ICER). The ICER indicates how much money it would cost to prevent the loss of one disability-adjusted life year.

Full story at Science Daily