Could Screens’ Blue Light Make You Old Before Your Time?

Daily exposure to blue light from sources such as smartphones, computers and household fixtures could speed your aging, even if it doesn’t reach your eyes, research in animals suggests.

Blue wavelengths produced by light-emitting diodes (LEDs) may damage cells in your brain as well as your retinas, according to the Oregon State University researchers.

Their study of fruit flies found that the lives of those exposed to daily cycles of 12 hours in blue light and 12 hours in darkness were shorter than those of flies kept in total darkness or in light with blue wavelengths filtered out.

Full story at US News

Not all hypertension drugs are created equal, reports big-data study

For those with extremely high blood pressure, or hypertension, there are many initial medication options — so many that it can be hard to know which one to use. Now, a Yale-coauthored paper in Lancet provides more information about the relative safety and effectiveness of different hypertension drugs in order to inform this critical treatment decision. The study reveals that angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors may not be the best choice for initial treatment.

Unprecedented in scale, the Lancet study pulled together the data of 4.9 million patients from nine institutional databases across four countries. The researchers used that data to compare the safety and effectiveness of the five classes of first-line hypertension medications, including the popular ACE inhibitors. They were looking at how well each drug prevented the three main health consequences of hypertension — heart attack, heart failure, and stroke — and to what extent each drug caused 46 unwanted side-effects.

“This is a remarkable, massive, multinational study that has provided insights that can inform patient choices about hypertension treatment,” says Dr. Harlan Krumholz, Yale cardiologist and author on the Lancet study. “What is distinctive is not only the size, but the advanced methods that optimize the trustworthiness of the results.”

Full story at Science Daily

Obesity exacerbates many causes of death, but risks are different for men and women

People who carry around unhealthy amounts of weight don’t just have heart disease and diabetes to worry about. Obesity is implicated in two thirds of the leading causes of death from non-communicable diseases worldwide and the risk of certain diseases differs for men and women. Cecilia Lindgren of the University of Oxford and colleagues report these findings in a new study published 24th October in PLOS Genetics.

As rates of obesity continue to grow worldwide, scientists have begun to suspect that excess weight might lead to or exacerbate other causes of death besides heart disease and type 2 diabetes. To identify additional causes of death made worse by obesity, researchers performed an analysis that explores cause-and-effect relationships using genetic data and three measures of obesity from 228,466 women and 195,041 men in the UK Biobank. Their analysis showed that obesity contributes to a laundry list of health problems including coronary artery disease, type 1 and 2 diabetes, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic liver disease and kidney failure. While obesity causes type 2 diabetes in both women and men, women experienced a higher risk of type 2 diabetes as compared to men, while men faced a greater risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease.

Full story at Science Daily

Greater understanding of Alzheimer’s disease

Otago scientists have made an important discovery in understanding the role a particular protein plays to impair memory in Alzheimer’s disease, which could lead to more effective treatment in future.

Professor Cliff Abraham and Dr Anurag Singh from the Department of Psychology have identified that a protein in the brain — tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) — normally associated with inflammation, becomes abnormally active in the Alzheimer’s brain, impairing the memory mechanism.

The overproduction of this protein (TNFα) may be one of the reasons behind the disease-related impairments of memory formation in the brain.

“While TNFα has been linked previously with Alzheimer’s and memory studies, it has not been understood that neural overactivity can drive the production of this protein to inhibit memory mechanisms in the brain,” Professor Abraham, a Principal Investigator with the University’s Brain Health Research Centre, explains.

Full story at Science Daily

More Patients With Heart Disease Die at Home Than in Hospital

Nearly a third of U.S. heart patients die at home, which is more than the number who die in the hospital, according to a new study.

Researchers examined data on more than 12 million heart disease patients who died between 2003 and 2017. They looked at whether the deaths occurred in a hospital, home, nursing or long-term care facility, inpatient hospice, or elsewhere (outpatient medical facility, emergency department, or dead-on-arrival at the hospital).

The number of heart disease deaths in the hospital fell from nearly 331,000 in 2003 to nearly 235,000 in 2017. Home deaths, meanwhile, rose from almost 193,000 to over 265,000, accounting for about 31% of heart disease deaths in 2017.

Full story at US News

HUD Announces Funding Opportunities to Expand Housing for People with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a combined $112 million available to expand the supply of permanent affordable housing for very low-income persons with disabilities.

Funding is available for the two components of the Section 811 Program:

  • Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Capital Advance), and
  • Project Rental Assistance.

The available funding includes $75 million in capital advances for the development of new supportive housing for this vulnerable population and $37 million in rental assistance to eligible housing agencies working closely with state health and human services or Medicaid agencies. 

Full story at Administration for Community Living

Young adults with PTSD may have a higher risk of stroke in middle age

Young adults who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be more likely to experience a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or major stroke event by middle age, raising the risk as much as other better-known risk factors, according to new research published in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

“Stroke has a devastating impact on young patients and their families, many of whom struggle to cope with long-term disability, depression and economic loss during their most productive years,” said Lindsey Rosman, Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. “Ten to 14% of ischemic strokes occur in adults ages 18 to 45, and we don’t really have a good understanding of the risk factors for stroke in this age group.”

While PTSD has previously been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke in older adults, this is the first study to demonstrate a link between trauma-induced stress disorders and the risk of TIA and stroke in young and middle-aged adults, an age group that has experienced a striking increase in stroke events over the past decade.

Full story at Science Daily

AHA News: Lowering Blood Pressure May Prevent New Brain Lesions in Older People

Many people know treating high blood pressure reduces the odds of a heart attack, stroke or heart failure. Now, a new study suggests another added benefit: a lower risk of lesions in the brain that increase the chances of dementia, stroke and falls in older adults.

The study, published this week in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, included 199 women and men age 75 and older. They all had systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 150 or higher and brain MRIs showing lesions known as white matter hyperintensity lesions that are common in older adults.

Half of the participants were given medication to lower their systolic blood pressure to 145. The other half were given medication to decrease it to 130 or lower. After three years, MRIs showed fewer new lesions had developed in the white matter of participants whose systolic blood pressure was 130 or lower than in those whose blood pressure target was 145.

Full story at HealthDay

The Value of Pet Ownership for Older Adults

OCTOBER IS Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sponsors this event to promote the adoption of dogs from local shelters. Approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year.

Owning a pet seems like a good idea, especially for isolated seniors. Let’s go one better: Owning a dog may help you maintain a healthy heart, especially if that pet is a dog, according to a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes. “In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level,” says Andrea Maugeri, a study researcher. “The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level.”

Full story at US News

Brain protein promotes maintenance of chronic pain

A protein called RGS4 (Regulator of G protein signaling 4) plays a prominent role in the maintenance of long-term pain states and may serve as a promising new target for the treatment of chronic pain conditions, according to research conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published in print October 16, in The Journal of Neuroscience.

The discovery may help doctors stop acute pain from progressing into chronic pain, a condition in which patients experience not just pain, but a number of debilitating symptoms ranging from sensory deficits to depression and loss of motivation. The transition from acute to chronic (pathological) pain is accompanied by numerous adaptations in immune, glial, and neuronal cells, many of which are still not well understood. As a result, currently available medications for neuropathic or chronic inflammatory pain show limited efficacy and major side effects. Commonly administered opioids provide temporary alleviation of some pain symptoms, but carry serious risks like addiction in the context of long-term treatment for chronic pain. Therefore, there is an imminent need for novel approaches towards the treatment of chronic pain and for the development of medications that disrupt pain states instead of simply alleviating symptoms.

Full story at Science Daily