Blood clot discovery could pave way for treatment of blood diseases

Scientists have discovered new ways in which the body regulates blood clots, in a discovery which could one day lead to the development of better treatments that could help prevent and treat conditions including heart diseases, stroke and vascular dementia.

Led by the University of Exeter and funded by the British Heart Foundation, the team has developed a new technique that allows them to simultaneously measure blood clotting and the formation of free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules containing unpaired single electrons seeking to pair up. This makes these molecules highly reactive and able to modify protein, lipids and DNA. Amongst other unwanted effects, free radicals play a role in the build-up of blood clots, which in turn are considered a key driver in the a development of a range of conditions, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and inflammation-related conditions such as arthritis.

Full story at Science Daily

Are Hearing Loss, Mental Decline Related?

Dementia is hard to predict, but hearing loss might signal a higher risk, a new study suggests.

The eight-year study adds to growing evidence of a link between hearing loss and mental decline.

But don’t panic if you no longer can hear the doorbell. The study only points to an association, not cause and effect.

“Our findings show that hearing loss is associated with new onset of subjective cognitive concerns which may be indicative of early stage changes in [mental function],” said lead author Dr. Sharon Curhan. She’s a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston.

Full story at US News

Higher education won’t prevent mental decline, study finds

Education has long been thought to protect against the ravages of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Numerous studies seemed to suggest that the more educated were less likely to develop dementia.

But a large new study finds little difference between people with a high school diploma and those with a Ph.D. when it comes to staving off the damage to brain cells caused by dementing diseases or the rate at which mental decline progresses, once it starts.

“It’s been a longstanding idea that education might be one of those things that allows a person to tolerate these kinds of brain pathologies,” said the study’s lead author, Robert S. Wilson, a professor of neurological and behavioral sciences at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “We found that the more pathology you find in the brain, the faster the cognitive decline was.”

Full story at NBC News

Why Should I Get the New Shingles Vaccine?

IF YOU’RE A HEALTHY adult age 50 or above, you should get vaccinated against shingles, medical experts say. The vaccine they recommend is Shingrix. The issue is whether it’s available.

Shingrix – a relative newcomer to the vaccine market – is in high demand. With its more than 90 percent success in preventing shingles, older adults are impatient to roll up their sleeves. However, Shingrix shortages and wait lists have been going on for months. Now, pharmacists say Shingrix supplies are being replenished.

Here’s why seniors are so eager to get the Shingrix vaccine – despite reports of injection discomfort – and why experts strongly recommend taking steps to protect yourself from shingles.

Full story at US News

AHA News: Post-Stroke Depression Common Among Black, Hispanic Survivors

For the nearly 800,000 people who experience a stroke each year in the United States, the aftereffects are likely to be life-changing.

Often, it’s the long-term physical complications that get the most attention, problems ranging from temporary weakness or permanent paralysis to difficulty swallowing, talking or thinking.

There are frequently psychological obstacles, too, according to new research that found about one-third of black and Hispanic stroke survivors experience depression, with those born outside the United States particularly at risk.

Full story at US News

Federal Trade Commission Scam Warning

The Federal Trade Commission is getting reports about people pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) who are trying to get your Social Security number and even your money.

In one version of the scam, the caller says your Social Security number has been linked to a crime (often, he says it happened in Texas) involving drugs or sending money out of the country illegally. He then says your Social Security number is blocked – but he might ask you for a fee to reactivate it, or to get a new number. He will ask you to confirm your Social Security number.

In other variations, he says that somebody used your Social Security number to apply for credit cards, and you could lose your benefits. He also might warn you that your bank account is about to be seized, that you need to withdraw your money, and that he’ll tell you how to keep it safe.

Full story at acl.gov

Women’s Brains May Be More ‘Age-Resistant’ Than Men’s

“Boys will be boys” goes the old saying, but girls might have the last laugh.

It turns out that female brains tend to age more slowly, researchers report.

On average, women’s brains appear to be about three years younger than those of men at the same chronological age. This could provide one clue to why women tend to stay mentally sharp longer than men, the authors noted.

“Women tend to score better on cognitive tests than men as they age,” said lead researcher Dr. Manu Goyal, an assistant professor at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “It’s possible the finding we’re seeing helps to explain some of that.”

Full story at US News

The Challenge of Senior In-Home Caregiving

GIVEN THAT SO MANY older adults prefer to age in place for as long as possible, the assistance of home health aides has become a major industry and means of helping people stay in their homes longer. But it’s a sector of the senior housing market that’s often recognized more for its challenges than for how it can empower families to live their best lives.

As both a consumer of home health aide services and a senior care industry insider, Matt Perrin, co-founder of the independent online senior living facility review site Ro & Steve, says the challenge families face when arranging stable and qualified in-home senior care services are pressing, and very real.

“For us as consumers, it just comes down to a stability issue,” he says, explaining how arranging appropriate care for his wife’s father, who lives with them in New Hampshire, has been an ongoing process that requires flexibility and a lot of advocacy. From simple logistics of making sure the Perrin family has coverage when they need it to making sure the caregivers they’re working with are a good fit for his father-in-law’s temperament and medical conditions, the whole endeavor is an ongoing process that has involved working with several agencies and many different caregivers.

Full story at US News

Hearing loss and cognitive decline: Study probes link

Recent research adds to a growing body of knowledge that links hearing loss with cognitive decline, which is a hallmark of dementia and often precedes the disease.

After analyzing 8 years of data from a health study of more than 10,000 men, scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, MA, found that hearing loss is tied to an appreciably higher risk of subjective cognitive decline.

In addition, the analysis revealed that the size of the risk went up in line with the severity of hearing loss.

Full story at Medical News Today

Extremely high blood pressure in African-Americans is 5 times the national average

Extremely high blood pressure that leads to strokes, heart attacks and acute kidney damage, classified as hypertensive emergency, is five times higher in inner-city African-American patients than the national average, according to a recent study co-lead by a Rutgers researcher.

The study, which is the largest one of its kind to compare the development of hypertensive emergency in a United States inner city, appears in the journal Blood Pressure.

One in three adults have high blood pressure known as hypertension, with the highest rates among African-Americans. In addition to being very common, high blood pressure in African-Americans develops earlier in life but has lower control rates compared to other racial-ethnic groups. Higher than average blood pressure results in the development of serious health complications that come with it. The study sought to determine the prevalence and risk factors of high blood pressure escalating to severe cases among African-Americans.

Full story at Science Daily