Experimental vaccine may reduce post-stroke blood clot risk

A vaccine may one day be able to replace oral blood thinners to reduce the risk of secondary strokes caused by blood clots, without increasing the risk of serious bleeding or triggering an autoimmune response, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.

People who have had a stroke caused by a blood clot (ischemic strokes) often need to take medications that make their blood less likely to clot, which helps prevent another stroke.

Japanese researchers successfully tested an experimental vaccine in mice and found that it provided protection against blood clots for more than two months without increasing the risk of bleeding or causing an autoimmune response. The lack of an autoimmune response is important, because it means the mice’s immune system did not perceive the vaccine as an “intruder” that needed to be attacked, which would have caused a reaction to the vaccine.

Full story at Science Daily

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

Eating yogurt may reduce cardiovascular disease risk

A new study in the American Journal of Hypertension, published by Oxford University Press, suggests that higher yogurt intake is associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk among hypertensive men and women.

High blood pressure is a major cardiovascular disease risk factor. Clinical trials have previously demonstrated beneficial effects of dairy consumption on cardiovascular health. Yogurt may independently be related to cardiovascular disease risk.

High blood pressure affects about one billion people worldwide but may also be a major cause of cardiovascular health problems. Higher dairy consumption has been associated with beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease-related comorbidities such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance.

Full story at Science Daily

MIND diet may slow cognitive decline in stroke survivors

A diet created by researchers at Rush University Medical Center may help substantially slow cognitive decline in stroke survivors, according to preliminary research presented on Jan. 25 at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2018 in Los Angeles. The findings are significant because stroke survivors are twice as likely to develop dementia compared to the general population.

The diet, known as the MIND diet, is short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet is a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets. Both have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, heart attack and stroke.

Full story 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

Over 100 new blood pressure genes could provide new targets for treating hypertension

Scientists have found 107 new gene regions associated with high blood pressure, potentially enabling doctors to identify at-risk patients and target treatments.

The study, led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Imperial College London, suggests that by using genetic testing, doctors could target medication to certain high blood pressure (hypertension) patients and advise on appropriate lifestyle changes to reduce a risk of heart disease and stroke. The findings are published in Nature Genetics.

Hypertension affects around one in three (21 million) adults in the UK, and is a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke and death worldwide. It is caused by a complex interplay between genetics and lifestyle factors such as diet, weight, alcohol consumption, and exercise.

Full story of blood pressure genes targets for treating hypertension at Science Daily

Diabetes, heart disease, and back pain dominate US health care spending

Just 20 conditions make up more than half of all spending on health care in the United States, according to a new comprehensive financial analysis that examines spending by diseases and injuries.

The most expensive condition, diabetes, totaled $101 billion in diagnoses and treatments, growing 36 times faster than the cost of ischemic heart disease, the number-one cause of death, over the past 18 years. While these two conditions typically affect individuals 65 and older, low back and neck pain, the third-most expensive condition, primarily strikes adults of working age.

These three top spending categories, along with hypertension and injuries from falls, comprise 18% of all personal health spending, and totaled $437 billion in 2013.

Full story of diabetes and heart disease dominating US health care spending at Science Daily

Cardiovascular risk factor prevention should be addressed at all ages

Prevention of cardiovascular disease in mid- to later life in black and white Americans is an increasingly important health concern, according to a study from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke project recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

University of Alabama at Birmingham investigators and their colleagues found that the development of risk factors including hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol remains high in adults over age 45, even extending up to ages over 75 years. In addition, the development of these risk factors was 25 to 100 percent higher in the black population than in the white population.

“Much of the attention on prevention of risk factors has been focused on young people. We have shown that there is a high risk of developing risk factors, particularly for blacks, even among the elderly population,” said George Howard, Dr.P.H., lead author of the study and professor in the UAB School of Public Health Department of Biostatistics. “It is important that health care professionals educate people of all ages on what they need to be doing to prevent these risk factors for stroke and heart disease.”

Full story of cardiovascular risk prevention at Science Daily

New link between periodontal and cerebrovascular diseases

A new study has revealed a relationship between chronic periodontitis and lacunar infarct, two common diseases in the elderly. Chronic periodontitis is an inflammatory disease of the gums, whereas lacunar infarct is a type of cerebral small vessel disease that can lead to a stroke.

Additional research is needed to understand this link. It is hypothesized that periodontitis leads to systemic inflammation and, as a result, the health of the blood vessels could be affected. On the other hand, chronic periodontitis and lacunar infarct may share common vascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Full story of new link between periodontal and cerebrovascular diseases at Science Daily

Three-quarters of stroke patients in China have hypertension

GW-ICC is being held in Beijing from 29 October 2015 to 1 November together with the Asia Pacific Heart Congress and the International Congress of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation. Experts from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) will present a special programme.

“Stroke is the leading cause of death in China and a significant source of disability,” said Dr Tang. “Our study investigated the levels of risk factors patients had before being hospitalised for stroke, whether patients knew about their risk factors, and whether the risk factors were under control.”

The researchers collected information on 20 570 patients hospitalised for acute stroke at 41 hospitals in 25 provinces in China during January to May 2011. The average age of patients was 63 years and nearly two-thirds (64%) were male.

Full story of China stroke patients and hypertension at Science Daily