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

He has autism. He’s willing and able to work. Can he find the right fit?

In the past decade, Tom Whalen, a 27-year-old Baltimore County man, has had jobs at an animal shelter, a mailroom, multiple grocery stores, a doggy day-care center and a landscaping company.

He is chatty, outgoing and engaging, quick to win over strangers and ask for opportunities. Then, in short order, he loses them.

“He could get jobs,” says his mother, Sue.

“The problem is maintaining them,” adds his father, Ed.

Full story at The Washington Post

New Technologies Help Seniors Age In Place — And Not Feel Alone

Nancy Delano, 80, of Denver has no plans to slow down anytime soon. She still drives to movies, plays and dinners out with friends. A retired elder care nurse who lives alone, she also knows that “when you reach a certain age, emergencies can happen fast.” So, when her son, Tom Rogers, talked to her about installing a remote monitoring system, she didn’t hesitate.

With motion sensors placed throughout the house, Rogers can see if his mom is moving around, if she’s sleeping (or not), if she forgot to lock the door and, based on a sophisticated algorithm that detects behavioral patterns, whether her activity level or eating habits have changed significantly, for instance.

“It gives both of us peace of mind, particularly as she ages and wants to live at home,” said Rogers, who lives near Washington, D.C., hundreds of miles away from her.

Full story at Kaiser Health News

Frail, Old and Dying, but Their Only Way Out of Prison Is a Coffin

Kevin Zeich had three and a half years to go on his prison sentence, but his doctors told him he had less than half that long to live. Nearly blind, battling cancer and virtually unable to eat, he requested “compassionate release,” a special provision for inmates who are very sick or old.

His warden approved the request, but officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons turned him down, saying his “life expectancy is currently indeterminate.”

Congress created compassionate release as a way to free certain inmates, such as the terminally ill, when it becomes “inequitable” to keep them in prison any longer. Supporters view the program as a humanitarian measure and a sensible way to reduce health care costs for ailing, elderly inmates who pose little risk to public safety. But despite urging from lawmakers of both parties, numerous advocacy groups and even the Bureau of Prisons’ own watchdog, prison officials use it only sparingly.

Full story at The New York Times

A tale of love, family conflict and battles over care for an aging mother

“Edith + Eddie,” a short documentary vying for an Academy Award Sunday, is a gripping look at a couple in their 90s caught up in an intense family conflict over caring for an aging parent. As a columnist who covers aging, I’m familiar with such stories. But as I immersed myself in the details of this case, I found myself reaching a familiar conclusion: real life is more complicated than in the movies.

On my first viewing, the events depicted in the 29-minute film were unsettling. It begins in the fall of 2014 with Edith Hill, 96, and Eddie Harrison, 95, who were married only a few months before, enjoying a series of intimate moments — dancing together, holding hands, exercising and chatting comfortably. It ends months later with the couple being separated by Edith’s court-appointed legal guardian, with police on the scene, and Edith taken off abruptly to Florida. Shockingly, Eddie died only a few weeks later.

Full story at

Macular Degeneration: Managing This Vision Condition

Helyn Guerry, 88, of Houston, looks around her room but struggles to make out the objects directly in front of her. Macular degeneration, a common eye condition among older adults, seriously blurs her central vision.

Driving is no longer possible for Guerry. Fortunately, she has a support system in place. “I have a grandson who’s very near and dear, and he comes once a day,” she says. He helps her catch up with paperwork and takes her to the grocery store because she can’t read labels now. She also has occasional professional help from an aide who accompanies her on visits to the doctor.

Guerry can’t read print books anymore. When she recently picked up her Kindle, she noticed her eyesight had deteriorated a bit more. Now she uses a machine that reads books aloud. Fortunately, she says, her hearing is still good.

Full story at US Health News

What Are the Secrets to Aging Well?

Numbers are important to Jan Sirota, a retired investment banker who lives in Sarasota, Florida. Sirota just celebrated 11 years of marriage, he cycles 40 miles per day, mentors four high school students and races cars 150 miles per hour in High Performance Driver Education events. The number that doesn’t seem to matter? His age.

“I’m 75, and it’s irrelevant to me,” Sirota says. “There’s no reason to say that I’ll slow down because I’m getting older.”

Many older adults do slow down, however, when faced with chronic disease, disability or isolation. So why is it that some people, like Sirota, can escape that fate and live vibrantly later in life? “Certainly genetics play a big part in this, and then of course luck. However, I don’t want anyone to think we can’t fight destiny a little bit,” says Dr. Patricia Harris, a geriatrician and professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Full story at US News

Six new groups of molecules could be the key to delaying aging

Hearing loss, brittle bones, sagging skin, a deteriorating mind: these are just some of the issues associated with growing old. For millennia, humans have fought the process of aging using everything from fountains of youth to pricey face creams, all to no avail. But a group of Montreal-based researchers is coming ever closer to achieving healthy longevity — armed with the power of science.

In a study recently published in Oncotarget, researchers from Concordia University and Idunn Technologies assess how six previously identified plant extracts can delay aging by affecting different signalling pathways that set the pace of growing old.

Vladimir Titorenko is a biology professor and the study’s senior author. He says that the potential of using these plant extracts for delaying the onset of age-related diseases is underscored by the fact that Health Canada classifies them as safe for human consumption. Five of them are recommended by the federal department as health-improving supplements with clinically proven benefits.

Full story of delaying the onset of age-related diseases at Science Daily

Repetitive brain injuries may accelerate aging, dementia risk

Repetitive head injuries that occur during contact sports and military service may accelerate the aging process by increasing the build-up of beta-amyloid in the brain, leading to worse disease and an increased likelihood of developing dementia. In particular, boxers fared the worst among athletes and military veterans with a history of head injuries.

These findings, which currently appear online in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, is the first to establish the age-dependent deposition of beta-amyloid in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and may lead to the development of diagnostic tools and treatments for the long lasting effects of head trauma.

CTE is a neurodegenerative disease associated with repetitive mild traumatic brain injury. It is defined pathologically by the abnormal accumulation of tau in a unique pattern that is distinct from other tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease. Although trauma has been suggested to increase amyloid β peptide (Aβ) levels, the extent of Aβ deposition in CTE has not been thoroughly characterized.

Full story of brain injuries and dementia risk at Science Daily

Good news for aging population: Incidence of stroke in elderly has dropped by 40% over last 20 years

A new analysis of data from 1988-2008 has revealed a 40% decrease in the incidence of stroke in Medicare patients 65 years of age and older. This decline is greater than anticipated considering this population’s risk factors for stroke, and applies to both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. Investigators also found death resulting from stroke declined during the same period. Their findings are published in the July issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

Preventable but deadly, stroke is the fourth leading cause of mortality in the United States, with approximately 795,000 strokes occurring each year. Beyond the impact on patients, treatment and after care place high demands on doctors and health care facilities. With an aging population reaching Medicare age, deconstructing and studying stroke statistics are important for understanding the causes underlying this downward trend, benefiting both patients and providers.