Lowering Your Blood Pressure Could Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk, New Research Shows

Margaret Daffodil Graham tries to live a healthy life, particularly since she has a health issue that requires constant attention. Like more than 100 million other Americans, the 74-year-old from Winston-Salem, N.C., has high blood pressure, and she has been taking medication to control it since she was in her 30s. So when she read that her nearby hospital, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, was looking for people with hypertension to volunteer for a study, she quickly signed up, knowing the doctors would monitor her blood pressure more intensively and hopefully lower her risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

What Graham didn’t realize was that by joining the trial, she wouldn’t just be benefiting her heart. The study, called SPRINT MIND, was designed to test whether aggressively lowering blood pressure would have an effect on people’s risk of cognitive decline, including symptoms of dementia related to Alzheimer’s disease.

Full story at Time

Brushing up on stroke symptoms might mean saving a life

How stroke-aware are you?

Perhaps you know the warning signs — sudden numbness on one side of the body, trouble speaking, sudden blurred vision, trouble walking — or know someone who has experienced a stroke.

There’s never a bad time to brush up on stroke awareness, and May — National Stroke Awareness Month — is a good time to get up to speed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is our fifth-leading cause of death, accounting for 140,000 fatalities each year. It’s also largely preventable. Although things such as family history and age can increase stroke risk, up to 80 percent of strokes can be sidestepped with lifestyle changes that include controlling blood pressure and quitting smoking.

Full story at The Washington Post

US Diabetes Rates Double in 20 Years, Diagnosis Rates Improve

The “staggering” increase in obesity rates among Americans is the most likely reason behind a near-doubling in the prevalence of diabetes over the past 20 years, according to a new study, which also found “striking differences” in diabetes rates among minorities. On average, about 10% of the adult US population now suffers from the disease—up from 5.5% in 1994.

The findings, which appear in the April 15 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, point to general improvements in diagnosis rates, with the rate of undiagnosed diabetes estimated at about 11% of total confirmed cases. The study also reports that prevalence of treatment is also more widespread.

Full story of diabetes diagnosis rates improving at APTA

FDA approves new diabetes medication

We now know that there’s much more to pain than simply what is happening in the painful body part, and attention has turned to the role of the brain. But not even this mysterious organ can tell us everything we need to know about pain, at least not yet.

You may wonder why the brain is part of the discussion about pain at all. After all, we’re not talking about a brain disease such as Alzheimer’s or stroke.

But we think that the brain is actually the best place to look when trying to understand pain; after all, pain is a purely subjective experience.

The problem is that pain cannot be “seen”. While a flinch, a limp, or a grimace may provide us with clues, ultimately we only know that someone is in pain if they tell us they are.

And it doesn’t necessarily make sense to only consider the part of the body that’s sore – sometimes people report pain in a body part that no longer exists, known as phantom limb pain.

Full story of FDA approving new diabetes drug at the Los Angeles Times

High Blood Sugar May Lead To Memory Problems

Raised blood sugar may lead to memory problems even in people with no signs ofdiabetes, a study has found.

Researchers tested the memory and blood sugar levels of 141 apparently healthy people with an average age of 63.

None were suffering from diabetes, or experiencing pre-diabetic symptoms.

Participants with lower blood sugar levels were likely to have better scores in memory tests.

In one test, which involved recalling a list of 15 words 30 minutes after hearing them, higher blood sugar correlated with poorer memory.

Scans also showed that the hippocampus brain region, which is important to memory, was smaller in those with higher blood sugar.

“These results suggest that even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar levels could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age,” lead researcher Dr Agnes Floel, from the Charite University Medicine in Berlin, Germany, said.

Full story of high blood sugar and memory at the Huffington Post

Blood Pressure Drugs Tied to Decreased Dementia Risk

A new study suggests that taking certain blood pressure medications may reduce the risk of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.

When researchers at Johns Hopkins analyzed data on more than 3,000 elderly Americans, they found that people over the age of 75 with normal cognition who used diuretics, angiotensin-1 receptor blockers (ARBs) and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors showed a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s-related dementia by at least 50 percent.

Additionally, diuretics were associated with a 50 percent reduced risk in those with mild cognitive impairment.

Beta blockers and calcium channel blockers did not show a link to reduced risk, the scientists reported in the study, published in the journal Neurology.

“Identifying new pharmacological treatments to prevent or delay the onset of AD dementia is critical, given the dearth of effective interventions to date,” said Sevil Yasar, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine in the Department of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Our study was able to replicate previous findings, however, we were also able to show that the beneficial effect of these blood pressure medications are maybe in addition to blood pressure control, and could help clinicians in selecting an antihypertensive medication based not only on blood pressure control, but also on additional benefits.”

Full story of blood pressure drugs and dementia at PsychCentral

Morning Rounds: Obesity isn’t only cause of diabetes (VIDEO)

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook and CBS News contributor Dr. Holly Phillips joined “CBS This Morning: Saturday” to discuss the major medical stories of the week.

Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks surprised a lot of folks when he shared some information about his health with David Letterman.

“I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘You know those high blood sugar numbers you’ve been dealing with since you were 36? Well, you’ve graduated. You’ve got type 2 diabetes, young man,'” said Hanks on the show.

The 57-year-old actor is known for taking on roles that require him to gain and lose weight. He packed on 30 pounds to play baseball coach Jimmy Dugan in 1992’s “A League of Their Own.”

Years later, he dropped from 225 pounds to 170 pounds for “Castaway,” a dramatic transformation to portray a man stranded on a deserted island.

Hanks’ diagnosis surprised many because of his slim stature as most people think obesity is the sole cause diabetes. However, other factors can impact getting the disease.

In fact, LaPook told the “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-hosts that 15-20 percent of people who get this disease are of normal weight.

“It’s felt to be a combination of genetics, lifestyle, and then there’s aging,” said LaPook. “You don’t have to be obese, aging itself can make the pancreas less able to produce insulin and that can block the body’s ability to react to insulin.”

Full story of obesity and diabetes at CBS News

Chiropractic Techniques Help to Lower Blood Pressure?

Chiropractic Techniques Help to Lower Blood PressureHigh blood pressure is one of the many symptoms stemming from nerve interference in the neck. Chiropractic patients can experience a significant drop in blood pressure – even after just one adjustment!

The University of Chicago’s Hypertension Centre’s Dr. George Bakris reported back in 2007 that he and his team were astonished by the effects of chiropractic care on patients with high blood pressure. This followed a study, during which Dr. Bakris and his team monitored 25 patients in the early stages of hypertension who received an upper cervical (upper neck) adjustment from a Doctor of Chiropractic, against 25 patients who received a placebo adjustment.

None of the patients took blood pressure medication for eight weeks; their blood pressure was measured at the start of this study period and again at the end.  X-rays were also taken before and after the adjustment to indicate a measurable difference in the position of the vertebrae.

Full story of chiropractor to lower blood pressure at Fitness Goop

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Diabetes Tied to Timing of Baby’s First Solid Food

Train Infants in Sleep Wont Cause Mental HealthAmong children already at higher risk for type 1 diabetes, missing the sweet spot for introduction of solid foods may increase the risk even further, researchers found.

Compared with exposing children to solid food for the first time at ages 4 or 5 months, introducing solid food both earlier and later was associated with greater risks of developing the disease (hazard ratio 1.91 for early and HR 3.02 for later), according to Jill Norris, PhD, MPH, of the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, and colleagues.

The specific food category associated with the greatest risk was rice or oats when first exposure occurred at age 6 months or later (HR 2.88, 95% CI 1.36-6.11), the researchers reported online in JAMA Pediatrics.

“These results suggest the safest age to introduce solid foods in children at increased genetic risk for type 1 diabetes is between 4 and 5 months of age,” they wrote, noting that the findings are consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to start giving solid foods at 4 to 6 months of age, but should be confirmed in a larger study.

Full story of diabetes and baby’s first  food at Med Page Today

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Study shows citywide policy may help stroke patients recover

City Policy May Help Stroke Victims RecoverA citywide policy enacted in 2011 — involving Chicago ambulance crews taking suspected stroke patients directly to accredited hospitals with accredited stroke centers — was associated with increased usage of a therapy that can reverse the effects of a stroke if received in time, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Neurology on Monday.

Before the change, rates of stroke patients getting what’s known as intravenous tPa was 3.8 percent of all patients. After, it improved to 10.1 percent.

Intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPa) is used to restore blood flow through blocked arteries that occurs when someone has an acute ischemic stroke. But it needs to be administered within 4.5 hours of the time a stroke happens in order to be effective.

The study, led by Dr. Shyam Prabhakaran at Northwestern University, is the best indication yet that the creation of an established stroke system in Chicago has had a positive effect on stroke patients.

Full story of policy to help stroke victims at Chicago Sun-Times

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