A Simple Reason So Many Older Americans Are Overdosing on Opioids

As the body ages, it often aches. In the United States, 81 percent of adults over 65 endure multiple chronic conditions such as arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. There also can be emotional pain from the loss of relatives and close friends, and concerns about the continued ability to live independently.

For those whose physical ailments prove almost paralyzing and chronic, health providers often prescribe opioid painkillers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. But that can lead to trouble. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public-health emergency. The department has spent almost $900 million on treatment services and other initiatives, but still more and more Americans are dying of overdoses on opioids—in the forms of prescription pain pills, heroin, or synthetic drugs. While older adults are not the age group most affected by the crisis, the population of older adults who misuse opioids is projected to double from 2004 to 2020.

A lot of factors contribute to this rise among the elderly. Many undergo several surgeries and are prescribed opioids they use for a long time, which heightens their chances of developing a use disorder. Some take more than they need, because the opioids they’ve been prescribed aren’t holding their pain at bay. Older adults of color, who face more barriers to getting the medications they need for pain, may get prescriptions from friends or family without proper instructions. But a recent poll highlights just how widespread another factor might be: doctors failing to warn their own patients about the risks that come with prescription pain relievers.

Full story at The Atlantic

Exercise cuts risk of chronic disease in older adults

New research has shown that older adults who exercise above current recommended levels have a reduced risk of developing chronic disease compared with those who do not exercise.

Researchers at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research interviewed more than 1,500 Australian adults aged over 50 and followed them over a 10-year period.

People who engaged in the highest levels of total physical activity were twice as lively to avoid stroke, heart disease, angina, cancer and diabetes, and be in optimal physical and mental shape 10 years later, experts found.

Lead Researcher Associate Professor Bamini Gopinath from the University of Sydney said the data showed that adults who did more than 5000 metabolic equivalent minutes (MET minutes) each week saw the greatest reduction in the risk of chronic disease.

Full story at Science Daily

Aspirin lowers risk of early death for patients with diabetes, heart failure

For people living with both Type 2 diabetes and heart failure, taking an aspirin each day appears to lower the risk of dying or being hospitalized for heart failure, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session. But the data also reveal aspirin use may increase the risk of nonfatal heart attack or stroke, a somewhat contradictory finding that surprised researchers.

The study is the first to assess aspirin as a preventive measure for patients who have both diabetes and heart failure. Aspirin, a blood thinner, is strongly recommended for patients who have previously had a heart attack or stroke, but guidelines are unclear regarding its use as a preventive measure for patients who have cardiovascular risk factors but no history of heart attack or stroke. Previous studies in people who have not had those types of health events have shown conflicting evidence of aspirin’s potential benefits in the general population. In patients with heart failure, some studies suggest a daily aspirin may even be harmful.

About 27 million people in the U.S. have Type 2 diabetes and about 6.5 million U.S. adults have heart failure, a condition in which the heart becomes too weak to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Each condition is associated with an elevated risk of cardiac events, including heart attack and stroke. This study sheds new light on the potential risks and benefits of aspirin for people with both conditions.

Full story at Science Daily

Could a History of Childhood Abuse Be Contributing to Your Depression?

The ripple effects of childhood abuse extend well beyond the immediate time surrounding the abuse and can continue to cause significant disruption throughout a person’s life, even if on the surface things seem calm.

Studies show that so-called adverse childhood experiences – stressful or traumatic events including physical, emotional or sexual abuse and physical or emotional neglect – can raise the risk of everything from substance abuse and mental health issues to sleep disruption, obesity, heart attack and diabetes and even shortened lifespan. Research has found childhood abuse is associated with depression not only in kids, adolescents and young adults, but in later life as well.

“Time just doesn’t magically heal,” says Adria Pearson-Mauro, an assistant professor of family medical and psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and a clinical psychologist at CU’s Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center in Aurora. She says these kinds of threats and the impact they can have on neurodevelopment of someone who is abused as a child physically or sexually always matter. “It doesn’t become less important with age,” Pearson-Mauro says.

Full story at US News

Diabetes medicine reduces Parkinson’s risk

A Norwegian study shows that the taking of diabetes medicine reduces the risk of getting Parkinson´s disease.

Researchers at the Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Bergen (UiB) have discovered that medical treatment against diabetes reduces the risk of getting Parkinson´s disease by 35 per cent.

“We have made an important discovery, which takes us a step further towards solving the Parkinson´s riddle,” says researcher Charalampos Tzoulis. He has lead the study together with researcher Kristoffer Haugarvoll at the same department.

Full story at Science Daily

Higher dementia risk associated with birth in high stroke mortality states

Is being born in states with high stroke mortality associated with dementia risk in a group of individuals who eventually all lived outside those states?

A new article published by JAMA Neurology reports the results of a study that examined that question in a group of 7,423 members of the integrated health care delivery system Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

A band of states in the southern United States is known as the Stroke Belt because living there has been associated with increased risk of a number of conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and cognitive impairment.

Full story at Science Daily

Midlife cardiovascular risk factors may increase chances of dementia

A large, long-term study suggests that middle aged Americans who have vascular health risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking, have a greater chance of suffering from dementia later in life. The study, published in JAMA Neurology, was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“With an aging population, dementia is becoming a greater health concern. This study supports the importance of controlling vascular risk factors like high blood pressure early in life in an effort to prevent dementia as we age,” said Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which partially funded the study and created the Mind Your Risks® public health campaign to make people more aware of the link between cardiovascular and brain health. “What’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” he added.

Full story at Science Daily

Paradigm shift in type 2 diabetes treatment urged

Heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide and exacerbated by type 2 diabetes, yet diabetes treatment regimens tend to focus primarily on blood sugar maintenance. This common approach to type 2 diabetes management can leave patients at risk for heart attack and stroke. But results from four recent randomized clinical trials suggest that using medications that offer glucose control while reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease could improve patient outcomes.

“Strong evidence provided by the four recent trials published within the past 1.5 to 2 years in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that some of the modern available therapeutic agents that control blood glucose also help reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Faramarz Ismail-Beigi, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University and Endocrinologist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. “Based on this evidence, we propose that we must shift from our previous paradigm with its monocular focus on control of blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c, to one of control of blood glucose plus preventing cardiovascular disease and death from cardiovascular causes.” Hemoglobin A1c is a common test used to determine a patient’s average blood sugar levels over the previous 2-3 months.

Full story of diabetes treatment change needed at Science Daily

Blood marker can predict heart disease risk in type-2 diabetes patients

Measuring a blood marker, copeptin, can successfully predict the risk of heart attacks in people with type-2 diabetes. This research presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology, suggests the copeptin molecule as a potential target to predict and prevent heart disease in diabetic patients.

Type-2 diabetes affects about 60 million people in Europe and is associated with a number of debilitating conditions, including blindness and kidney failure.Type-2 diabetes can also increase the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke, which can lead to premature death.

Copeptin is a fragment of the hormone vasopressin, also known as antidiuretic hormone, which is involved in many physiological processes related to heart disease including water retention in the kidneys, blood vessel contraction, sugar metabolism in the liver and hormone secretion from the pancreas.

Full story of copeptin predicting heart disease risk in type-2 diabetes patients at Science Daily

Race ranks higher than pounds in diabetes, heart-health risks

Americans of South Asian descent are twice as likely as whites to have risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, when their weight is in the normal range, according to a study headed by Emory University and UC San Francisco.

Similarly, Americans of Hispanic descent were 80 percent more likely than whites to suffer from so-called cardio-metabolic abnormalities that give rise to heart disease, stroke and diabetes, compared with 50 percent more likely for those who were Chinese and African-American.

These risks include high blood pressure (hypertension), elevated glucose, low HDL, the “good cholesterol,” and high triglycerides, a fat found in blood. In the study, participants who were aged between 45 and 84, were classified as having cardio-metabolic abnormalities if they had two or more of these four risk factors.

Full story of race in diabetes and heart health risks at Science Daily