Health and Fitness

Blueberry Juice Improved Memory In Older People

Researchers from the US and Canada have for the first time found evidence that a few glasses of blueberry juice a day improved memory in older adults; the findings come from a small study of 70-year olds showing early signs of memory loss, and the researchers suggest the findings establish a basis for comprehensive human clinical trials to test whether blueberries really deserve their growing reputation as a memory enhancer. The study was the work of Dr Robert Krikorian, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center in Cincinnati, Ohio and colleagues, and a report about it appears in the 4 January ASAP issue of the American Chemical Society's bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The authors wrote there is an urgent need to develop preventive approaches to dementia which is on the rise as our population ages and there is no effective therapy for it. Blueberries contain polyphenols, comprising mostly anthocyanins, which are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, combating oxidative stress, which contributes to some neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.

ASCP Foundation Awarded Grant For Medication Optimization Study Using Monitor-RX

The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP) Foundation has been awarded a grant in the amount of $93, 465 from the Center for Technology and Aging for a research project utilizing Monitor-Rx to optimize the medication regimens of older adults. The ASCP Foundation was selected as one of five grant recipients out of 47 applicants to the Center's Medication Optimization Diffusion Grants Program. The purpose of the grants program is to encourage further use of technologies that help improve medication use by older adults with chronic health conditions, lead to improvements in the cost and quality of care, and improve medication reconciliation, medication adherence, and/or medication monitoring. Monitor-Rx is a unique web-based clinical tool that associates medication effects with physical, functional, and cognitive decline and provides medication monitoring recommendations to foster early recognition of adverse drug effects that can be avoided, managed, or reversed. The ASCP Foundation's project will utilize Monitor-Rx to optimize the medication regimens of older adults in three practice sites that provide comprehensive pharmacist services.

Older Brains Make Good Use Of 'Useless' Information

A new study has found promising evidence that the older brain's weakened ability to filter out irrelevant information may actually give aging adults a memory advantage over their younger counterparts. A long line of research has already shown that aging is associated with a decreased ability to tune out irrelevant information. Now scientists at Baycrest's world-renowned Rotman Research Institute have demonstrated that when older adults "hyper-encode" extraneous information - and they typically do this without even knowing they're doing it - they have the unique ability to "hyper-bind" the information; essentially tie it to other information that is appearing at the same time. The study, which appears online this week in the journal Psychological Science, was led by Karen Campbell, a PhD student in psychology at the University of Toronto, with supervision from Rotman senior scientist Dr. Lynn Hasher, a leading authority in attention and inhibitory functioning in younger and older adults.

Study Finds Unnecessary Mammograms Performed On Elderly Women With Dementia

A new study in the American Journal of Public Health found that 18% of elderly women with severe dementia undergo screening mammograms, despite guidelines from the American Cancer Society and other groups that recommended against such screening for women with a life expectancy of less than five years, Newsweek reports. Elderly women with dementia have an average life expectancy of 3.3 years, according to Newsweek. The study examined more than 2, 000 women older than age 70. Evidence-based guidelines state that any cancer found in screenings in this age group likely would not grow fast enough to reduce a patient's lifespan in women expected to live fewer than five years. The study found that 45% of women with normal cognitive status underwent screening mammograms, which "seems about right" because these women are more likely to be in good health and expected to live more than five years, according to Newsweek. Mammograms can lead to follow-up tests, such as biopsies, and unnecessary surgeries for growths that would never become problematic.

LSUHSC Research Yields Promising Stroke Treatment

For the first time, research led by Youming Lu, PhD, MD, Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine, has identified a novel mechanism that may trigger brain damage during stroke and identified a therapeutic approach to block it. The work, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), both of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as the American Heart Association, was published in the January 22, 2010 issue of the top tier journal, Cell, also available online. The work focuses on particular receptors for the neurotransmitter, glutamate, called NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors, which constitute the major subtype of glutamate receptors. NMDA receptors play a key role in communication among nerve cells in the brain. They perform a number of necessary functions including playing a role in learning and memory, but can also be involved in processes that cause brain cell death.

It's Never Too Late To Quit Smoking And Save Your Vision, Finds Study Of AMD In Elderly Women

Need a little extra incentive to kick the habit? Just in time for New Year's resolutions, a UCLA study finds that even after age 80, smoking continues to increase one's risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 65. The American Journal of Ophthalmology publishes the findings in its January edition. "The take-home message is that it's never too late to quit smoking, " said lead author Dr. Anne Coleman, professor of ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. "We found that even older people's eyes will benefit from kicking the habit." AMD causes progressive damage to the macula, the center of the retina that allows us to see fine details. When the macula degenerates, people experience darkness or blurring in their central vision, preventing them from being able to read, drive and recognize faces. After age, smoking is the second most common risk factor for AMD. This study sought to determine whether age influences the effects of smoking on AMD risk.

JAMA Launches New Series On Caring Of The Aging Patient

To assist physicians in caring for a patient demographic that is rapidly growing in size, JAMA is launching a new series, "Care of the Aging Patient: From Evidence to Action." "The aging of the global population will be a hallmark of the 21st century, when average lifespan may reach 100 years in some countries, at least for women. Worldwide, the proportion of the population aged 60 years or older is expected to increase from 10 percent worldwide in 2005 to 22 percent in 2050, with the steepest rise in the next 25 years. Individuals aged 85 years or older are the most rapidly increasing segment of many populations, " according to an editorial in the December 23/30 issue of JAMA. C. Seth Landefeld, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues write that aging will shape the lives of patients and the practice of medicine, and that physicians will spend more time caring for older individuals. "Although physicians are knowledgeable about the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and management of organ-specific diseases such as cataract, coronary artery disease, and pneumonia, many geriatric syndromes are not straightforward and do not fit the conventional paradigm of disease.

Scientists Take Important Step Toward The Proverbial Fountain Of Youth

Going back for a second dessert after your holiday meal might not be the best strategy for living a long, cancer-free life say researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. That's because they've shown exactly how restricted calorie diets - specifically in the form of restricted glucose - help human cells live longer. This discovery, published online in The FASEB Journal could help lead to drugs and treatments that slow human aging and prevent cancer. "Our hope is that the discovery that reduced calories extends the lifespan of normal human cells will lead to further discoveries of the causes for these effects in different cell types and facilitate the development of novel approaches to extend the lifespan of humans, " said Trygve Tollefsbol, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Center for Aging and Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "We would also hope for these studies to lead to improved prevention of cancer as well as many other age-related diseases through controlling calorie intake of specific cell types.

Older Unsupported Women More Likely To Have Heart Failure With Preserved Systolic Function

Older women who have less social support and live in nursing homes are more likely to have heart failure with preserved systolic function than those who are married or living in their own home, according to the results of research published in the Medical Journal of Australia. Dr Sepehr Shakib, from the Royal Adelaide Hospital, and his co-authors, including cardiologists Dr Dennis Wong and Dr Ben Dundon with social epidemiologist Dr Robyn Clark from the Samson Institute, University of South Australia, undertook a retrospective analysis of clinical data for 2961 patients admitted with chronic heart failure over a period of 10 years. The authors found patients who had heart failure with preserved systolic function (HFPSF) were predominantly older women with less social support and a greater burden of comorbid conditions such as renal impairment, anaemia and atrial fibrillation compared with those with left ventricular systolic dysfunction. There was also an increase in the risk of re-hospitalisation among patients with HFPSF.

American Geriatrics Society Applauds Senate Vote That Moves Healthcare Reform Bill Forward

The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) hails the Senate's procedural vote that allows the Senate to move forward with its proposed healthcare reform plan. The plan includes a wide range of provisions that would help ensure older adults access to quality, cost-effective care, and make the Medicare program more sustainable. The AGS -- a nonprofit organization of geriatrics healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of older people -- has long advocated for many of the provisions in the bill. "We are extremely pleased by the outcome of the vote on the Senate healthcare reform plan, which would significantly improve access to quality, cost-effective care for America's seniors, " said AGS President Cheryl Phillips, MD. The Senate plan would help address growing eldercare workforce shortages and improve access to eldercare through the significant expansion of geriatrics educational and training programs for healthcare professionals and direct-care workers. It would also establish a Graduate Medical Education policy allowing unused training slots to be reallocated in ways that increase the ranks of -- and seniors' access to -- primary care providers.

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