Simple test may help predict long-term outcome after stroke

A simple test taken within a week of a stroke may help predict how well people will have recovered up to three years later, according to a study published in the October 17, 2018, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“We found that this test, which takes less than 10 minutes, can help predict whether people will have impaired thinking skills, problems that keep them from performing daily tasks such as bathing and dressing and even whether they will be more likely to die,” said study author Martin Dichgans, MD, of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. “This test should be used to screen people with stroke and to counsel them and their families about long-term prognosis and also to identify those who would most benefit from interventions that could improve their outcomes.”

For the study, 274 people in Germany and France who had a stroke were given the test, called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, within a week of the stroke. They were then divided into two groups: those with no problems with thinking and memory skills and those with cognitive impairment. The participants were tested for their thinking and memory skills, motor functioning and ability to complete daily living tasks six months later and then at one and three years after the stroke.

Full story at Science Daily

5 Steps for Picking a Medicare Plan

FOR MOST OF US, MAKING the move from private, employer-provided health insurance to Medicare is a daunting task. First, there’s the new lexicon: Medicare Advantage, Part B, Part D, Medigap – what do they mean? Then there’s the fear: “The Medicare decisions you’re about to make will affect your health care and out-of-pocket costs for the rest of your life,” says the Medicare information organization 65 Incorporated.

Yikes – that’s a lot of pressure! Take a deep breath, because with some research and careful consideration, you can find a Medicare plan that works for you. Here are the steps you should take to make the right choice.

1. Check your timing. “Timing is one of most important decisions a person can make,” says Diane Omdahl, co-founder and president of 65 Incorporated. Many people need to enroll during the Initial Enrollment Period, which is the seven months surrounding one’s 65th birthday – including the three months before, your birthday month and the four months after. Patients may be responsible for late penalties and lapses in coverage if they don’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, which allows you to enroll outside your 65th birthday window or during open enrollment, for unplanned events like losing a job and associated health insurance coverage.

Full story at US News Health

Osteoarthritis: New compound may stop the disease

New research, published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, shows that an innovative blocking agent can stop the degeneration of the cartilage when injected into the joints.

Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition that affects the bones and cartilage within the joints.

Although it occurs most often in the hands, hips, and knees, osteoarthritis can also affect the body’s spine.

Currently, at least 30 million adults in the United States are living with osteoarthritis, making the condition the most prevalent form of arthritis.

Full story at Medical News Today

Statins show little promise for conditions other than heart disease

Medicines commonly prescribed to reduce people’s risk of heart attack may have limited use for treating other diseases, research suggests.

Previous studies had suggested the cholesterol-cutting drugs — called statins — might help people with non-heart related conditions too, including cancer, dementia and kidney disease.

Experts reviewed hundreds of studies and found positive signs the drugs could benefit people with certain conditions, in addition to their proven effects on heart disease, but the results are inconclusive.

The researchers say there is not enough evidence to support a change in current guidance for the way these drugs are prescribed.

Full story at Science Daily

Businesses Increasingly Hiring People With Disabilities

CHICAGO — When Glynis Harvey and Mark Cagley opened Hidden Manna Cafe four years ago, the couple did not set out to hire people with disabilities.

But then a social service agency asked: Might the Matteson restaurant employ a woman with cerebral palsy? How about a man with mild blindness? A customer asked for an application for her sister, who has an intellectual disability.

Harvey and Cagley were good people to ask. They have twin sons, now 28, with autism, and so they understood how difficult it is for people with disabilities to find jobs. They also knew how hard they worked once given the chance.

Full story at Disability Scoop

Exercise reduces stress, improves cellular health in family caregivers

Exercising at least three times a week for six months reduced stress in a group of family caregivers and even appeared to lengthen a small section of their chromosomes that is believed to slow cellular aging, new UBC research has found.

“I am hoping that a new focus on the family caregiver will emerge out of this research,” said Eli Puterman, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s school of kinesiology and lead author of the study. “We need to design interventions that help caregivers take care of their bodies and their minds, and provide the type of support that’s needed to maintain that long-term.”

The population of seniors in the U.S., where Puterman and colleagues from the University of California conducted the study, is expected to nearly double by 2050. Younger family members will increasingly be providing this type of care and it can take a toll on their health.

Full story at Science Daily

Study: Half of Women, One-Third of Men Will Develop Dementia, Parkinson’s or Stroke

ALMOST HALF OF WOMEN and more than one-third of men will develop Parkinson’s disease, dementia or suffer a stroke after age 45.

A new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry examined 12,102 people aged 45 and older from 1990 through 2016 to observe their lifetime risk of these diseases. Researchers found that 1,489 people were diagnosed with dementia, 1,285 had a stroke and 263 were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Women are more likely than men to experience any of these conditions. A woman’s lifetime risk for any one of the three is 48.2 percent, compared to 36.3 percent for men. Among the participants, 438 of them, 14.6 percent developed multiple conditions, with women more likely to suffer from disease co-occurrence. Women were nearly twice as likely as men to suffer both a stroke and to be diagnosed with dementia – 2.9 percent of women compared to 1.9 percent of men.

Full story at US News

Alzheimer’s burden will double by 2060, warn CDC

A report newly published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia in the United States will double by the year 2060.

About 5.7 million individuals in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

This neurodegenerative disease is one of the leading causes of disability and the sixth-leading cause of mortality in the U.S.

With annual healthcare costs of more than $250 billion, the disease also puts a significant strain on the nation’s healthcare system.

Full story at Medical News Today

A biomarker in the brain’s circulation system may be Alzheimer’s earliest warning

USC scientists say Alzheimer’s could be diagnosed earlier if scientists focus on an early warning within the brain’s circulation system.

That’s important because researchers believe that the earlier Alzheimer’s is spotted, the better chance there is to stop or slow the disease.

“Cognitive impairment, and accumulation in the brain of the abnormal proteins amyloid and tau, are what we currently rely upon to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, but blood-brain barrier breakdown and cerebral blood flow changes can be seen much earlier,” said Berislav Zlokovic, the Mary Hayley and Selim Zilkha Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “This shows why healthy blood vessels are so important for normal brain functioning.”

In a new review article in the Sept. 24 issue of Nature Neuroscience, Zlokovic and his colleagues recommend that the blood-brain barrier, or BBB, be considered an important biomarker — and potential drug target — for Alzheimer’s disease. Because Alzheimer’s is irreversible, and not fully understood, understanding the first step in the disease process is a critical step in fighting it.

Full story at Science Daily

CDC: Alzheimer’s, Dementia Rate Expected to Double by 2060

THE SHARE OF AMERICANS with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is expected to more than double by 2060 as people increasingly survive into older adulthood, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An estimated 5 million older adults had Alzheimer’s or a related dementia in 2014, and by 2060 that figure is expected to rise to 13.9 million, or about 3.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to the report, which evaluated health claims data for more than 28 million Medicare beneficiaries.

Alzheimer’s – the fifth-leading cause of death for adults 65 and older and the sixth-leading cause of death for Americans overall – destroys memory and cognitive functioning and poses a greater risk as people age.

Full story at US News