CPAP Brings Longer Life for Obese People With Sleep Apnea: Study

There’s good news for the millions of obese Americans with sleep apnea: Researchers report the use of the CPAP mask may greatly increase their chances for a longer life.

Use of the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask was tied to a 62% decline in the odds for death over 11 years of follow-up.

That benefit held even after factoring in health risk factors such as heart disease, weight, diabetes and high blood pressure, said a French team of investigators led by Dr. Quentin Lisan, of the Paris Cardiovascular Research Center.

Full story at US News

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

Genetic factor that can help or hurt risk for heart disease

Atherosclerotic disease, the slow and silent hardening and narrowing of the arteries, is a leading cause of mortality worldwide, responsible for more than 15 million deaths each year, including an estimated 610,000 people in the United States.

Now, researchers may know one more reason why some people are more prone to develop the disease. In a paper published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of physicians, geneticists and biologists — including members of the University of Arizona — describe a previously unknown genetic effect that either can raise or reduce the risk of coronary artery disease or ischemic stroke.

“People with the beneficial version of the genetic factor we discovered have less inflammatory, or less activated, cells lining the blood vessels,” said Casey Romanoski, PhD, an assistant professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the UA College of Medicine — Tucson who co-authored the study. “It basically means they will be more resistant to building up plaque in their blood vessels.”

Full story at Science Daily

Statins show little promise for conditions other than heart disease

Medicines commonly prescribed to reduce people’s risk of heart attack may have limited use for treating other diseases, research suggests.

Previous studies had suggested the cholesterol-cutting drugs — called statins — might help people with non-heart related conditions too, including cancer, dementia and kidney disease.

Experts reviewed hundreds of studies and found positive signs the drugs could benefit people with certain conditions, in addition to their proven effects on heart disease, but the results are inconclusive.

The researchers say there is not enough evidence to support a change in current guidance for the way these drugs are prescribed.

Full story at Science Daily

Daily Aspirin Doesn’t Appear to Prolong Healthy Life for Older Adults

IF YOU’RE AN ADULT IN your late 60s or 70s who’s physically healthy, mentally sharp and trying to stay that way, taking a daily low-dose aspirin probably won’t help that much, new research shows. Until now, there hasn’t been much guidance for healthy older people trying to weigh the possible preventive effects of aspirin against its known increased risks of bleeding.

On Sept. 16, findings from a large new study on preventive aspirin use appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine. The three-pronged clinical trial encompassed more than 19,000 older adults in the U.S. and Australia. Participants were living independently, without heart disease, dementia or diabetes when they enrolled between 2010 and 2014 in the study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.

Participants, whose average age was 74, were randomly assigned to take either a daily low-dose 100 milligram aspirin (the international equivalent of a standard 81 mg baby aspirin) or a placebo. Over a roughly five-year period, researchers followed these healthy seniors to see whether regular preventive aspirin extended their lifespan free of disability or dementia. However, there was no real difference between people on aspirin and those on a placebo, results showed.

Full story at US News

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

New research could banish guilty feeling for consuming whole dairy products

Enjoying full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and butter is unlikely to send people to an early grave, according to new research by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

The study, published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found no significant link between dairy fats and cause of death or, more specifically, heart disease and stroke — two of the country’s biggest killers often associated with a diet high in saturated fat. In fact, certain types of dairy fat may help guard against having a severe stroke, the researchers reported.

“Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults. In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke,” said Marcia Otto, Ph.D., the study’s first and corresponding author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health.

Full story at Science Daily

Study: Street-level air pollution increases health risk among elderly

A new study published today in the journal Environmental Health shows that differences in traffic-related air pollution are associated with higher rates of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease in the elderly. Scientists from Environmental Defense Fund and Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Division of Research combined data from the nonprofit’s block-by-block study of air pollution in Oakland, CA, with 6 years of electronic health records from more than 40,000 local residents to evaluate the impacts of air quality between neighbors, people who live on the same street or within a few blocks of each other at an unprecedented resolution.

Specifically, the study shows that 3.9 parts per billion higher NO2 concentrations are associated with a 16 percent increased risk of diagnosed heart attacks, surgery or death from heart disease among the elderly and 0.36 microgram per meter cube higher black carbon concentrations are associated with a 15 percent increased risk of having a cardiac event and/or dying from coronary heart disease among the same population.

The effect estimates of street-level neighborhood differences in long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution on cardiovascular events in the general population of adults, were consistent with results found in previous studies, though not statistically significant. The associations among the elderly add to a growing body of evidence indicating higher susceptibility to air pollution.

Full story at edf.org

Known risk factors largely explain links between loneliness and first time heart disease/stroke

Conventional risk factors largely explain the links observed between loneliness/social isolation and first time heart disease/stroke, finds the largest study of its kind published online in the journal Heart.

But having few social contacts still remains an independent risk factor for death among those with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, the findings show.

Recent research has increasingly highlighted links between loneliness and social isolation and cardiovascular disease and death. But most of these studies have not considered a wide range of other potentially influential factors, say the authors.

In a bid to clarify what role these other factors might have, they drew on data from nearly 480,000 people aged between 40 and 69, who were all part of the UK Biobank study between 2007 and 2010.

Full story at Science Daily