Underlying cause of brain injury in stroke

New research shows how the novel drug QNZ-46 can help to lessen the effects of excess release of glutamate in the brain — the main cause of brain injury in stroke.

Published in Nature Communications, the study shows how identifying the source of damaging glutamate in stroke leads to discovery of brain protection with QNZ-46, a novel form of preventative treatment with clinical potential.

Existing studies show that restricted blood supply promotes the excess release of glutamate. The glutamate binds to receptors, over-stimulating them and leading to the break-down of myelin — the protective sheath around the nerve fibre (axon).

Full story at Science Daily

Trial for gout drug meets primary endpoint, raises safety

Febuxostat, a gout drug that has been in use for nearly a decade, was found to significantly increase the risk of death, even though it did not raise the risk of the trial’s primary endpoint, a combined rate of fatal and nonfatal adverse cardiovascular events, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session.

It is unusual for a clinical trial to reveal an increased risk of death without also showing a heightened risk of other cardiovascular outcomes such as nonfatal heart attack and stroke. The findings, which showed an uptick in deaths after patients had been taking febuxostat for two years or longer, call into question the safety of long-term febuxostat use in patients with cardiovascular disease, researchers said.

“This finding was entirely unexpected, and we’re at a loss at this time to explain why this finding was seen,” said William B. White, MD, professor of medicine at the Calhoun Cardiology Center of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and the study’s lead author. “The results were consistent across many subgroups; there was no evidence of a relationship with age, sex, race or ethnicity, history of cardiovascular disease, or duration or severity of the gout.”

Full story at Science Daily

Retirement planning: Older Americans face tough long-term care choices

Growing old in America can be wrought with legal problems arising from health concerns, long-term care, and the need for appropriate housing.

The good news is that there are tools and products and strategies that older Americans can use to live as well as possible in the last decades of their lives.

So, what are some of the more common problems older Americans face, and how might they solve or at least alleviate them?

Cognitive decline

Who will make decisions for you when you are no longer able to make them yourself?  According to Bernard Krooks, a partner with Littman Krooks and chair of that firm’s elder law and special needs department, the best way to address this problem is by searching for and retaining a certified elder law attorney who can draft the appropriate documents that you’ll need, including durable power of attorney, advance health care directives and the like.

Full story at USA Today

Social security’s process for determining disability in adults

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine examines to what extent and in which ways health care utilization — such as in-patient hospitalizations, emergency department use, and hospital readmission — reflects disease severity, disability, and ability to perform gainful activity. The committee that conducted the study was unable to find an association between health care utilization and disease severity as it relates to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) determination of severe impairment — an impairment or combination of impairments severe enough to prevent a person from performing any gainful activity regardless of age, education, or work experience.

Types of health care utilization vary with combinations of health conditions, and although there might be a connection between some types of utilization and impairment severity or disability, the committee could not make that specific connection on the basis of available data.

The SSA administers two programs that provide benefits based on disability. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides disability benefits to people under the full retirement age who are no longer able to work because of a disabling medical condition or a terminal illness. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a means-tested income-assistance program for disabled, blind, and aged people who have limited income and resources regardless of their prior participation in the labor force.

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

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

Discovery paves way for treatment to prevent blood vessel damage

The discovery of a previously unknown interaction between proteins could provide a breakthrough in the prevention of damage to healthy blood vessels. Led by the University of Bradford, the research shows how the two proteins combine to protect blood vessels from inflammation and damage and could pave the way for treatments to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

The new study, published in Nature Communications, found that when a protein called SOCS3 binds directly with another protein called Cavin-1, small cell surface regions of blood vessels called caveolae are stabilised, preventing damage. This mechanism, previously unknown, is important for maintaining healthy vascular function. This process happens naturally in healthy cells but can be compromised when damage occurs, through natural processes such as ageing or as a result of lifestyle.

Full story at Science Daily