Muscle in Middle Age Might Help Men’s Hearts Later

Middle-aged men who maintain their muscle mass may lower their risk of heart disease as they get older, a new study suggests.

Beginning in the mid-30s, muscle begins to decline by about 3% each decade. Previous studies found that muscle mass is associated with heart attack/stroke risk, but those studies focused on people with heart disease.

In this new study, the researchers wanted to examine if muscle mass in middle age might be associated with long-term heart health in people without heart disease.

The study included more than 1,000 men and women, aged 45 and older, who were followed for 10 years. During that time, 272 participants developed heart disease, including stroke and minor stroke.

Full story at US News

HUD Announces Funding Opportunities to Expand Housing for People with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a combined $112 million available to expand the supply of permanent affordable housing for very low-income persons with disabilities.

Funding is available for the two components of the Section 811 Program:

  • Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Capital Advance), and
  • Project Rental Assistance.

The available funding includes $75 million in capital advances for the development of new supportive housing for this vulnerable population and $37 million in rental assistance to eligible housing agencies working closely with state health and human services or Medicaid agencies. 

Full story at Administration for Community Living

More aggressive blood pressure control benefits brains of older adults

A major UConn School of Medicine study published in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation shows that more aggressively controlling daily blood pressure in older adults can improve brain health.

It’s been estimated that approximately two-thirds of people over the age of 75 may have damaged small blood vessels in the brain which are visible as bright white lesions on brain imaging. Prior research evidence has linked increased amounts of these white matter lesions in the brain with cognitive decline, limited mobility such as a slower walking speed, increased incidence of falls and even increased stroke risk.

The clinical trial, led by Drs. William B. White of the Calhoun Cardiology Center and Leslie Wolfson of the Department of Neurology, followed 199 hypertension patients 75 years of age and older for 3 years.

Full story at Science Daily

Journalists File Lawsuit To Force Feds To Release Medicare Advantage Audits

Kaiser Health News is suing the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to release dozens of audits that the agency says reveal hundreds of millions of dollars in overcharges by Medicare Advantage health plans.

The lawsuit filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco under the Freedom of Information Act, seeks copies of 90 government audits of Medicare Advantage health plans conducted for 2011, 2012 and 2013 but never made public. CMS officials have said they expect to collect $650 million in overpayments from the audits. Although the agency has disclosed the names of the several dozen health plans under scrutiny, it has not released any other details.

“This action is about accountability for hundreds of millions of public dollars misspent,” says Elisabeth Rosenthal, KHN’s editor-in-chief. “The public deserves details about the overpayments, since many of these private companies are presumably still providing services to patients and we need to make sure it can’t happen again.”

Full story at NPR

AAN recommends people 65+ be screened yearly for memory problems

People with mild cognitive impairment have thinking and memory problems but usually do not know it because such problems are not severe enough to affect their daily activities. Yet mild cognitive impairment can be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. It can also be a symptom of sleep problems, medical illness, depression, or a side effect of medications.

To help physicians provide the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is recommending physicians measure how frequently they complete annual assessments of people age 65 and older for thinking and memory problems. This metric for yearly cognitive screening tests is part of an AAN quality measurement set published in the September 18, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

A quality measure is a mathematical tool to help physicians and practices understand how often health care services are consistent with current best practices and are based on existing AAN guideline recommendations. Quality measures are intended to drive quality improvement in practice. Physicians are encouraged to start small using one or two quality measures in practice that are meaningful for their patient population, and measure use is voluntary.

Full story at Science Daily

Dementia care program improves mental health of patients, caregivers

UCLA-led research finds that a comprehensive dementia care program staffed by nurse practitioners working within a health system improves the mental and emotional health of patients and their caregivers.

While the program did not slow the progression of dementia, it did reduce patients’ behavioral problems and depression, and lower the distress of caregivers, the researchers found.

The paper is published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The findings, based on data from the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, suggest that such programs are a promising approach toward improving the psychological health of patients and caregivers, said Dr. David Reuben, chief of the UCLA Division of Geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the study’s lead author.

Full story at Science Daily

Using EEG data to diagnose Parkinson’s disease

Currently, diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease relies on a neurologist’s professional opinion. Researchers behind a new study believe that an EEG may be a more effective alternative.

Parkinson’s disease affects more than 10 million people worldwide, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation, but no scan has been proved to definitively diagnose it.

Instead, a neurologist will assess a person by asking them to carry out certain tasks. These may include writing or drawing, walking, and speaking.

They will also examine the face and limbs to check for signs of tremors and facial expression difficulties.

Full story at Medical News Today

Could this brain stimulation technique reverse memory decline?

New research suggests that transcranial magnetic stimulation could reverse age-related memory loss. In fact, the technique restored the memory of senior participants to the level of young adults.

It is a known fact that a person’s memory tends to decline with age. Between 15 and 20 percent of people over the age of 65 years have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — a condition that is no cause for concern on its own but that raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Misplacing things once in a while or having trouble finding one’s words can be a natural partof the aging process. However, researchers may now have found a way to reverse this form of age-related memory loss.

Full story at Medical News Today

Key discovery to preventing blindness, stroke devastation

Research led by Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, Boyd Professor, Ernest C. and Yvette C. Villere Chair of Retinal Degeneration Research, and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans, has discovered gene interactions that determine whether cells live or die in such conditions as age-related macular degeneration and ischemic stroke. These common molecular mechanisms in vision and brain integrity can prevent blindness and also promote recovery from a stroke. The paper is published online in Cell Death & Differentiation, a Nature journal.

“Studying the eye and the brain might hold the key to creating therapeutic solutions for blindness, stroke and other seemingly unrelated conditions associated with the central nervous system,” notes Dr. Bazan. “The eye is a window to the brain.”

Dr. Bazan and his research team discovered Neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), which is made from the essential fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Previous work showed that while it protected cells, the molecular principles underlying this protection were not known.

Full story of preventing blindness and strokes at Science Daily

Social support central for caregiver health in AIDS-affected South African communities

Psychosocial support should be a key element of health interventions for caregivers of children in HIV-affected communities, particularly for women who take on the majority of care-giving responsibilities.

These are the findings of Dr Marisa Casale, a Senior Researcher at the Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), South Africa.

For the past five years, Dr Casale has been conducting mixed methods research with caregivers of children in urban and rural South Africa, to assess the impact of social networks on health among these populations. This research is part of the larger Young Carers project, a collaboration between the South African government, NGOs and universities such as the University of Cape Town, the University of Oxford and Brown University. The project interviewed 6,000 children and 2,500 adult carers in three South African provinces, to identify the needs of AIDS-affected families.

Full story of care giving health for AIDS in South Africa at Science Daily