Topic: Health Conditions

Reducing the Risk for Stroke

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

A Swedish study recently published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke found that adult men and women who ate low-fat dairy products had a reduced risk for stroke, compared to their counterparts who ate full-fat dairy products.

Nearly 75,000 adults, ages 45 to 83 years old, served as subjects for the study. At the beginning of the project, they were free of heart disease, stroke and cancer. They completed a dietary habit questionnaire, on which they described their food and drink consumption (for example, they might note consuming a particular item "never" or up to four servings per day).

Four thousand eighty nine strokes occurred among the subjects during a 10-year follow-up period. That is, 2409 in men and 1,680 in women. Most of the strokes were ischemic (3,159) whereas 583 were hemorrhagic and 347 were unspecified.

Compared to study participants who ate high-fat dairy foods, those who ate low-fat versions had a 13 percent lower risk for ischemic stroke and a 12 percent lower risk for stroke in general.

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“Nanorobots” to the Rescue

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Scientists at the University of Florida (UF) have developed a "nanorobot" that can be programmed to target different diseases. Following is a fascinating UF news release on the topic:

University of Florida researchers have moved a step closer to treating diseases on a cellular level by creating a tiny particle that can be programmed to shut down the genetic production line that cranks out disease-related proteins.

In laboratory tests, these newly created “nanorobots” all but eradicated hepatitis C virus infection. The programmable nature of the particle makes it potentially useful against diseases such as cancer and other viral infections.

The research effort, led by Y. Charles Cao, a UF associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. Chen Liu, a professor of pathology and endowed chair in gastrointestinal and liver research in the UF College of Medicine, was described online recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This is a novel technology that may have broad application because it can target essentially any gene we want,” Liu said. “This opens the door to new fields so we can test many other things. We’re excited about it.”

During the past five decades, nanoparticles — particles so small that tens of thousands of them can fit on the head of a pin — have emerged as a viable foundation for new ways to diagnose, monitor and treat disease. Nanoparticle-based technologies are already in use in medical settings, such as in genetic testing and for pinpointing genetic markers of disease. And several related therapies are at varying stages of clinical trial.

The Holy Grail of nanotherapy is an agent so exquisitely selective that it enters only diseased cells, targets only the specified disease process within those cells and leaves healthy cells unharmed.

To demonstrate how this can work, Cao and colleagues, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research and the UF Research Opportunity Seed Fund, created and tested a particle that targets hepatitis C virus in the liver and prevents the virus from making copies of itself.

Hepatitis C infection causes liver inflammation, which can eventually lead to scarring and cirrhosis. The disease is transmitted via contact with infected blood, most commonly through injection drug use, needlestick injuries in medical settings, and birth to an infected mother. More than 3 million people in the United States are infected and about 17,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients can go many years without symptoms, which can include nausea, fatigue and abdominal discomfort.

Current hepatitis C treatments involve the use of drugs that attack the replication machinery of the virus. But the therapies are only partially effective, on average helping less than 50 percent of patients, according to studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine and other journals. Side effects vary widely from one medication to another, and can include flu-like symptoms, anemia and anxiety.

Cao and colleagues, including graduate student Soon Hye Yang and postdoctoral associates Zhongliang Wang, Hongyan Liu and Tie Wang, wanted to improve on the concept of interfering with the viral genetic material in a way that boosted therapy effectiveness and reduced side effects.

The particle they created can be tailored to match the genetic material of the desired target of attack, and to sneak into cells unnoticed by the body’s innate defense mechanisms.

Recognition of genetic material from potentially harmful sources is the basis of important treatments for a number of diseases, including cancer, that are linked to the production of detrimental proteins. It also has potential for use in detecting and destroying viruses used as bioweapons.

The new virus-destroyer, called a nanozyme, has a backbone of tiny gold particles and a surface with two main biological components. The first biological portion is a type of protein called an enzyme that can destroy the genetic recipe-carrier, called mRNA, for making the disease-related protein in question. The other component is a large molecule called a DNA oligonucleotide that recognizes the genetic material of the target to be destroyed and instructs its neighbor, the enzyme, to carry out the deed. By itself, the enzyme does not selectively attack hepatitis C, but the combo does the trick.

“They completely change their properties,” Cao said.

In laboratory tests, the treatment led to almost a 100 percent decrease in hepatitis C virus levels. In addition, it did not trigger the body’s defense mechanism, and that reduced the chance of side effects. Still, additional testing is needed to determine the safety of the approach.

Future therapies could potentially be in pill form.

“We can effectively stop hepatitis C infection if this technology can be further developed for clinical use,” said Liu, who is a member of The UF Shands Cancer Center.

The UF nanoparticle design takes inspiration from the Nobel prize-winning discovery of a process in the body in which one part of a two-component complex destroys the genetic instructions for manufacturing protein, and the other part serves to hold off the body’s immune system attacks. This complex controls many naturally occurring processes in the body, so drugs that imitate it have the potential to hijack the production of proteins needed for normal function. The UF-developed therapy tricks the body into accepting it as part of the normal processes, but does not interfere with those processes.

“They’ve developed a nanoparticle that mimics a complex biological machine — that’s quite a powerful thing,” said nanoparticle expert Dr. C. Shad Thaxton, an assistant professor of urology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and co-founder of the biotechnology company AuraSense LLC, who was not involved in the UF study. “The promise of nanotechnology is extraordinary. It will have a real and significant impact on how we practice medicine.”

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Most Assisted-Living Residents Are White Women

Friday, July 27th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) recently released a report detailing an analysis of 2010 data on U.S. residential care facilities with at least four beds. Residential care (also called assisted-living) facilities provide housing and support services for persons who cannot live independently but who do not require nursing home care.

Of the 733,000 persons residing in such facilities in 2010, more than half were 85 years old and older, 91 percent were white, and 70 percent were female. Approximately 40 percent needed assistance with three or more activities of daily living (for example, dressing). Over 75 percent had two or more of the ten most prevalent health conditions (for example, hypertension).

This fascinating compilation of demographic facts is certain to be of interest to health-fitness professionals who serve elderly clientele. The full report follows:

Residents Living in Residential Care Facilities: United States, 2010

Christine Caffrey, Ph.D.; Manisha Sengupta, Ph.D.; Eunice Park-Lee, Ph.D.; Abigail Moss; Emily Rosenoff, M.P.A.; and Lauren Harris-Kojetin, Ph.D.

Key findings

Data from the 2010 National Survey of Residential Care Facilities

  • The majority of residents living in residential care facilities in 2010 were non-Hispanic white and female. More than one-half of all residents were aged 85 and over.
  • Nearly 2 in 10 residents were Medicaid beneficiaries, and almost 6 in 10 residents under age 65 had Medicaid.
  • Almost 4 in 10 residents received assistance with three or more activities of daily living, of which bathing and dressing were the most common.
  • More than three-fourths of residents have had at least 2 of the 10 most common chronic conditions; high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias were the most prevalent.

Persons living in state-regulated residential care facilities (RCFs)—such as residents of assisted living communities—receive housing and supportive services because they cannot live independently but generally do not require the skilled level of care provided by nursing homes. The ability to provide a comprehensive picture of the long-term care industry has been hampered by a lack of data on RCFs (1–4). Previous estimates of the number of residents in RCFs vary depending on how RCFs are defined (5–7). A recent NCHS data brief (5) reported that for each day in 2010, 733,300 persons were residents of RCFs nationwide. Using data from the first nationally representative survey of RCFs with four or more beds, this report presents national estimates of these RCF residents by selected resident characteristics.

Keywords: assisted living, long-term care

In 2010, the majority of residents were non-Hispanic white, female, and aged 85 and over.

  • Nine in ten residents were non-Hispanic white (91%), and seven in ten residents were female (70%) (Figure 1)./li>
  • More than one-half of residents were aged 85 and over (54%), and more than one-quarter of residents were aged 75–84 (27%). The remaining one-fifth of residents were about evenly split between those aged 65–74 (9%) and those under age 65 (11%).
  • The median length of stay among all current residents at the time of interview was 671 days, or about 22 months (data not shown).

Figure 1. Selected characteristics of residential care residents: United States, 2010

NOTE: Estimates may not add to 100% due to rounding.
SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Survey of Residential Care Facilities, 2010.

Nearly 2 in 10 residents were Medicaid beneficiaries.

  • Medicaid paid for at least some of the RCF services for 19% of residents (Figure 2).
     
  • Younger residents were more likely to have Medicaid than older residents. Almost 6 in 10 residents under age 65 had Medicaid (56%) compared with 39% of residents aged 65–74, 16% of residents aged 75–84, and 10% of residents aged 85 and over.
     
  • In 2010, the mean national total monthly charge per resident for residential care was $3,165 (data not shown).

Figure 2. Residential care residents with Medicaid, by age: United States, 2010

NOTES: All age cohorts are significantly different from each other at p < 0.05. Cases with missing data are excluded; see "Data sources and methods" section for detail.
SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Survey of Residential Care Facilities, 2010.

Almost 4 in 10 residents received assistance with three or more activities of daily living.

  • About three-quarters of all residents received assistance with bathing (72%), over one-half received assistance with dressing (52%), more than one-third received assistance with toileting (36%), one-quarter received assistance with transferring (25%), and more than one-fifth received assistance with eating (22%) (Figure 3).
     
  • Thirty-eight percent of RCF residents received assistance with three or more of these activities of daily living (ADLs), an additional 36% received assistance with one or two of the ADLs, and 26% did not receive assistance with any ADL

Figure 3. Residential care residents receiving assistance with activities of daily living: United States, 2010




Activities of daily living.
2Includes 2% who receive assistance with a toileting device, such as ostomy, indwelling catheter, chairfast, or similar devices.
3
Comprises 12% confined to a bed or chair and 13% receiving assistance with transferring.
NOTE: Cases with missing data are excluded; see "Data sources and methods" section for detail.
SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Survey of Residential Care Facilities, 2010.

Almost three-fourths of residents had ever been diagnosed with at least 2 of the 10 most common chronic conditions.

  • The 10 most common chronic conditions among residents were high blood pressure (57%), Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias (42%), heart disease (34%), depression (28%), arthritis (27%), osteoporosis (21%), diabetes (17%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and allied conditions (15%), cancer (11%), and stroke (11%) (Figure 4).
     
  • More than one-quarter of RCF residents had ever been diagnosed with 4–10 of the most common chronic conditions (26%); one-half of residents had ever been diagnosed with 2–3 of the most common chronic conditions; 18% had ever been diagnosed with one of these chronic conditions; and the remaining 6% had never been diagnosed with these conditions (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Most common chronic conditions of residential care residents: United States, 2010

1Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
NOTE: Cases with missing data are excluded; see "Data sources and methods" section for detail.
SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Survey of Residential Care Facilities, 2010.

Summary

In 2010, residential care residents were mostly female, non-Hispanic white, and aged 85 and over, and had a median length of stay of about 22 months. For about 20% of residents—or 137,700 persons—Medicaid paid for at least some long-term care services provided by the RCF. This estimate is similar to that found in a recent study (3). Almost 40% of all residential care residents received assistance with three or more ADL limitations, and over 40% had Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. These findings suggest a vulnerable population with a high burden of functional and cognitive impairment.

Residential care is an important component of the U.S. long-term care system. This report presents national estimates of people living in RCFs, using data from the first-ever national probability sample survey of RCFs with four or more beds. This brief profile of residential care residents may provide useful information to policymakers, providers, and consumer advocates as they plan for the future long-term care needs of older as well as younger adults. In addition, these findings serve as baseline national estimates as researchers continue to track the growth of and changes in the residential care industry.

Definitions

Length of stay: Derived from the month and year in which the resident first moved into the RCF and the month and year of the interview.

Medicaid beneficiary: A resident who, during the 30 days before the interview, had any of his or her long-term care services at the RCF paid by Medicaid.

Charges: The total charge for the month prior to the interview, including the basic monthly charge and any charges for additional services.

Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs): Refers to receiving any assistance in the five ADLs (bathing, dressing, transferring, using the toilet, and eating) that reflect a resident’s capacity for self-care. A summary variable was created with three categories: no limitations, 1–2 limitations, and 3–5 limitations. For residents confined to a bed or chair, the question about whether the resident received assistance with transferring was not asked in the survey. For the current analyses, the 12% of residents chair-ridden or bedridden were defined as receiving assistance in the transferring and summary ADL variables. The 2% of residents who receive assistance with a device to use the toilet, such as an ostomy, catheter, or chairfast device, were defined as receiving assistance in the toileting and summary ADL variables.

Most common chronic conditions: Includes the 10 most common chronic conditions that residents were ever diagnosed as having by a doctor or other health professional, based on the RCF staff respondent’s reference to the resident’s medical record or personal knowledge of the resident. A summary variable was created with four categories: no conditions, one condition, 2–3 conditions, and 4–10 conditions.

Data sources and methods

Resident data from the 2010 National Survey of Residential Care Facilities (NSRCF) were used for these analyses. To be eligible for NSRCF, RCFs must be licensed, registered, listed, certified, or otherwise regulated by the state; have four or more licensed, certified, or registered beds; and provide room and board with at least two meals a day, around-the-clock on-site supervision, and help with personal care such as bathing and dressing or health-related services such as medication management. These RCFs also serve a predominantly adult population. RCFs licensed to exclusively serve the mentally ill or developmentally disabled populations were excluded. Nursing homes also were excluded unless they had a unit or wing meeting the above definition and their residents could be separately enumerated.

The 2010 NSRCF used a stratified two-stage probability sample design. The first stage was the selection of RCFs from the sampling frame representing the universe of RCFs. For the 2010 NSRCF, 3,605 RCFs were sampled with probability proportional to facility size. Interviews were completed with 2,302 RCFs, for a first-stage, facility-level weighted response rate of 81%, which was weighted for differential probabilities of selection. In the second stage of sampling, 3–6 current residents were selected depending on RCF bed size. All data collected on sampled residents came from interviews with RCF staff who answered questions by referring to the residents’ records or their own knowledge of the residents; residents were never interviewed. The second-stage, resident-level weighted response rate was 99%. A detailed description of NSRCF sampling design, data collection, and procedures is provided both in a previous report (8) and on the NSRCF website.

Differences among subgroups were evaluated using chi-square and t-tests. If chi-square tests were statistically significant, a post hoc t-test procedure was used to make pairwise comparisons. Significant results from the post hoc procedure are reported here. All significance tests were two-sided using p < 0.05 as the level of significance. The difference between any two estimates is reported only if it is statistically significant. Lack of comment regarding the difference between any two statistics does not necessarily suggest that the difference was tested and found to be not statistically significant. Data analyses were performed using the statistical package SAS-callable SUDAAN version 10.0 (9). Cases with missing data were excluded from the analyses on a variable-by-variable basis. The percentage of weighted cases with missing data varied between 0.01% and 2.5%. Because estimates were rounded, individual estimates may not sum to totals.

About the authors

Christine Caffrey, Manisha Sengupta, Eunice Park-Lee, Abigail Moss, and Lauren Harris-Kojetin are with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Health Care Statistics. Emily Rosenoff is with the Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation’s Office of Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy.

References

  1. Spillman BC, Black KJ. The size of the long-term care population in residential care: A review of estimates and methodology. Prepared for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute. 2005.

     
  2. Spillman BC, Black KJ. The size and characteristics of the residential care population: Evidence from three national surveys. Prepared for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute. 2006.

     
  3. Polzer K. Assisted living state regulatory review 2011. Washington, DC: National Center for Assisted Living. 2011.

     
  4. MetLife Mature Market Institute. Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs. Westport, CT. 2010.

     
  5. Park-Lee E, Caffrey C, Sengupta M, et al. Residential care facilities: A key sector in the spectrum of long-term care providers in the United States. NCHS data brief, no 78. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2011.

     
  6. Mollica R, Sims-Kastelein K, O’Keeffe J. Residential care and assisted living compendium: 2007. Prepared for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Office of Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy. Washington, DC: RTI International. 2007.

     
  7. Stevenson DG, Grabowski DC. Sizing up the market for assisted living. Health Aff 29(1): 35–43. 2010.

     
  8. Moss AJ, Harris-Kojetin LD, Sengupta M, et al. Design and operation of the 2010 National Survey of Residential Care Facilities. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 1(54). 2011.

     
  9. SUDAAN, release 10.0 [computer software]. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International. 2008.

Citation: Caffrey C, Sengupta M, Park-Lee E, et al. Residents living in residential care facilities: United States, 2010. NCHS data brief, no 91. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.

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Exercise to Reduce the Pain of Neuropathy

Friday, June 22nd, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

American Senior Fitness Association author Jim Evans is a 45-year veteran of the health-fitness industry and an internationally recognized fitness consultant. Today Jim offers hope to an older adult seeking guidance in managing a prevalent health concern, neuropathy.

DEAR JIM: I am 75 years old, and for the past seven years I have been afflicted by painful neuropathy in my feet. It usually comes on at night when I am trying to sleep and, as you can imagine, I haven’t been sleeping very well. Sometimes my feet feel as if they are on fire! My doctor has told me repeatedly that I should be more physically active, but I don’t see how that would help. In the meantime, he keeps giving me pain medication, but it hasn’t helped very much either. What do you
suggest? DOUBTING DEBBIE IN DUBLIN

DEAR DOUBTING DEBBIE: It’s a funny thing about doctors. We believe everything they say unless it is something we don’t want to hear. For seven years you have been taking pain medication with very little relief, and for seven years your doctor has been telling you to exercise, but you have ignored his advice. You must be a glutton for punishment!

According to the Neuropathy Association, more than 20 million people suffer from neuropathy in the U.S., so you are not alone in your misery. Neuropathy — or peripheral neuropathy, as it is more commonly known — is pain, tingling or numbness caused by nerve damage and usually occurs in the hands and feet. It is difficult to treat and is most often seen in patients with trauma, diabetes and certain other conditions. In fact, more than half of all diabetics suffer from neuropathy. Neuropathey is often associated with poor nutrition, too.

Exercise is commonly recommended for patients with chronic pain, and a recent study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia, the official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society, provides evidence that exercise helps to ease neuropathic pain by reducing inflammation. Running (or walking) on a treadmill or swimming were the specific forms of exercise used in the study. Is there any reason why you cannot do one or the other, or both?

Exercise is not going to eliminate your neuropathic pain entirely, but patients in the study experienced a 30 to 50 percent reduction in pain. Sounds pretty encouraging to me.

The bottom line is that your doctor is right about exercise as a way to reduce the pain of neuropathy, so start listening to him for a change — and not just what you want to hear! You might also have your blood tested for any nutritional deficiencies because certain vitamins can sometimes help to relieve your symptoms, too.

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Certain Foods May Cut Men’s Risk for Parkinson’s

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Frequent consumption of foods and drinks that are abundant in flavonoids may reduce men’s risk for Parkinson’s disease by 40 percent, according to research headed by Xiang Gao of Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Flavonoids are protective substances present in plant foods that help to ward off oxidative damage to the body’s cells. Dietary fare that is rich in flavonoids includes:

  • Tea
  • Orange juice
  • Red wine
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Recently published online in the journal Neurology, the study looked at health and nutritional data from roughly 50,000 men and 80,000 women. Over a follow-up period of 20 to 22 years, 438 of the men and 367 of the women developed Parkinson’s. The results were somewhat puzzling: Whereas men with high overall flavonoid intakes saw a 40 percent reduction in risk, women’s overall intake was not statistically significant. Even so, women who ate at least two servings of berries per week did see a reduction in risk (about 25 percent). These findings do not apply to persons who already have Parkinson’s disease.

    Quoted in HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Gao said, "For total flavonoids, the beneficial result was only in men. But berries are protective in both men and women. Berries could be a neuroprotective agent. People can include berries in their regular diet. There are no harmful effects from berry consumption, and they lower the risk of hypertension too."

    Berries such as strawberries and blueberries may be especially protective because they are rich in a certain type flavonoid called anthocyanins.

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    Ladies, Don’t Skip Colon Cancer Screening

    Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    A troubling trend has been revealed by a new study headed by Nisa Maruther of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and published online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. It concerns obese white women. Researchers found that they are less likely to undergo potentially life-saving colon cancer screenings, compared to normal-weight white women or to black persons of any weight or gender. In a news release, Dr. Maruther wrote, "Being concerned about your weight usually is good, but here it appears to be keeping people from a test we know saves lives. Obese white women may avoid screening because they feel stigmatized and embarrassed to disrobe for the tests." Health-fitness professionals should encourage all clients ages 50 to 75 to seek colon cancer screening, which includes periodic colonoscopy tests.

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    More on Inflammation

    Monday, March 19th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    People who report unpleasant social interactions, including stressful competition, show increased levels of two inflammatory proteins, TNF receptor 2 and interleukin-6, both of which may contribute to heart problems, hypertension, cancer and depression. These findings, gleaned by a UCLA School of Medicine study, were outlined by ScienceNews on February 25, 2012:

    Scientists explored the relationship between everyday stress and the two relevant proteins, known as proinflammatory cytokines. Research subjects were asked to record all of their positive and negative social interactions for eight days, including competitive situations such as worrying over an academic examination or over the contested attention of a "special someone."

    Shortly afterward, fluid samples were collected from the participants’ inner cheeks. Analysis showed that those with the most negative social experiences — including stressful work- or academic-related situations — had higher levels of TNF receptor 2. Those in competition for another’s attention or affection had higher levels of interleukin-6.

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    Sunlight and Stroke

    Monday, March 19th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    A recent exploratory study suggests that a lack of sunlight might increase one’s risk for stroke, according to a report by HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health:

    The study’s co-author, Leslie McClure of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told HealthDay, "We hear a lot about how sun may be bad for us, in terms of skin cancer, for example. But this examination of sunlight exposure indicates that there may be some positive results related to being in the sun… The bottom line is that sunlight may be both a friend and a foe with respect to health."

    Researchers analyzed data involving more than 30,000 black and white subjects over 45 years of age. Particular attention was paid to approximately 16,500 of those subjects, none of whom had a history of heart disease or stroke when they entered the project between the years of 2003 and 2007. All had undergone medical examinations, provided their health history, and disclosed places where they had resided in the past.

    During a five-year follow-up period, 351 of the 16,500 participants had a stroke. That stroke incidence was compared with satellite and ground data regarding geographical monthly sunlight patterns going back as far as 15 years. Subjects in the bottom half of the sunlight exposure range had a 1.6 times higher risk for stroke, compared to those in the top half. Evidence also emerged that subjects living in colder climates had a greater risk for stroke.

    Researchers stressed that this work is preliminary, not research that proves a cause and effect relationship between a lack of sunlight and increased stroke risk. Future investigations will seek to clarify the matter.

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    A Promising Alzheimer’s Treatment

    Monday, March 19th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    When mice with an Alzheimer’s-like condition were given bexarotene, a cancer drug, the undesirable plaque-forming protein in their brains began clearing within hours and their Alzheimer’s-like behavior was largely reversed within days. Laura Sanders, writing for ScienceNews (March 10, 2012), described the study, which was undertaken at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio:

    The brains of persons with Alzheimer’s disease contain high levels of the plaque-forming protein amyloid-beta (A-beta). Like people, mice with a lot of A-beta in their brains experience memory loss and difficulty learning new things. For example, when normal laboratory mice are placed in cages with a supply of soft tissue paper, they usually chew it up and arrange it into a pile, thereby making a soft, comfortable nest for themselves. But mice with high A-beta levels lose their ability to make a mental connection between seeing the paper and the opportunity to form a soft place to lie. However, after three days of bexarotene treatment, these mice began building nests again.

    Also like people with Alzheimer’s disease, mice with high A-beta levels often lose their sense of smell. When normal mice smell a strong odor again and again, they grow used to it and don’t act surprised the third, fourth or fifth time they’re exposed to it. But high A-beta mice don’t become accustomed to the scent and continue to act surprised every time they encounter it. Given bexarotene, these mice recovered their ability to get used to a smell.

    Researchers reported that after 14 days of treatment, plaque levels in the laboratory mice decreased by 75 percent. However, they cautioned that making the leap from research animals to human beings is the most difficult step in the drug development process. In any event, this study added to scientists’ understanding of amyloid-beta, so progress has been achieved.

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    Exercise and Stroke Recovery

    Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Old good news:Regular exercise can help lower one’s risk for stroke. New good news: Physically fit people who do have a stroke have a better chance of recovery. Spanish researchers have found that patients who were more physically active prior to a stroke responded much better to clot-busting medication, sustained less brain damage, and were more likely to regain their motor skills, compared to more sedentary stroke patients.This preliminary study, presented at a recent American Stroke Association meeting, was described by HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

    Researchers looked at 159 stroke patients (average age 68), who completed standard questionnaires relating their physical activity level before the stroke. They were divided into three physical activity levels: low, medium and high.

    Patients in the highest activity level were more likely to have their blood flow restored within two hours of being given tPA, a drug for dissolving blood clots and reopening arteries. Sixty-two percent of the high-activity patients showed an early response to tPA, compared to 35 percent of the medium-activity patients and none of the low-activity patients.

    Eighty-nine percent of the high-activity patients recovered their motor skills, compared to 69 percent of the medium-activity patients and only four percent of the low-activity patients.

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