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

Raising the Priority of Lifestyle-Related Noncommunicable Diseases in Physical Therapy Curricula

Given their enormous socioeconomic burdens, lifestyle-related noncommunicable diseases (heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and obesity) have become priorities for the World Health Organization and health service delivery systems. Health care systems have been criticized for relative inattention to the gap between knowledge and practice, as it relates to preventing and managing noncommunicable diseases. Physical therapy is a profession that can contribute effectively to patients’/clients’ lifestyle behavior changes at the upstream end of prevention and management. Efforts by entry-to-practice physical therapist education programs to align curricula with epidemiological trends toward best health care practices are varied. One explanation may be the lack of a frame of reference for reducing the knowledge translation gap. The purpose of this article is to provide a current perspective on epidemiological indicators and societal priorities to inform physical therapy curriculum content. Such content needs to include health examination/evaluation tools and health behavior change interventions that are consistent with contemporary values, directions, and practices of physical therapy.

Full story on lifestyle-related noncommunicable diseases at APTA

PCORI Devotes Additional $142 Million to Expansion of Clinical Research Network

The Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) plans to invest $142.5 million to expand its clinical research network—another facet of a broad initiative that includes major grants supporting physical therapy research.

According to a PCORI news release, the money will be used to establish a second-phase expansion of the National Patient Centered Clinical Research Network(PCORnet), a project that links various health data research networks. The funding will be used in part to expand the number of PCORnet participants from 27 to 34, and will include both clinical data and patient-powered research networks.

The 34 PCORnet partner networks encompass more than 150 conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, autism spectrum disorders, heart disease, obesity, Parkinson disease, behavioral health disparities among low-income populations, and health disparities among sexual and gender minorities, all drawn from a wide variety of population groups.

Full story of PCORI adding money to clinical research at APTA

Minimizing Damage from Heart Attacks: Interview with Valentin Fuster, MD (VIDEO)

Every minute counts for heart attack victims. The amount of necrosis in the heart tissues increases as they are starved of blood flow during the attack. When damage is extensive and large sections of the heart die, heart attack survivors are at high risk for a second event — which can be heart failure, irregular heart rhythms or sudden death.

Protecting the heart after heart attack was the goal of Valentine Fuster, MD, PhD, and colleagues who are working toward a new, faster treatment for heart attack victims — published this month in the journal Circulation. They completed a multi-center heart attack study in Spain at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III, CNIC, in collaboration with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Dr. Fuster is director ofMount Sinai Heart as well as general director of CNIC and the Physician-in-Chief at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.

The investigators injected the patient with a beta-blocker drug, metoprolol, in the ambulance on the way to the hospital — within 10 minutes of the patient’s heart attack. Guidelines recommend treatment within 24 hours with a pill form of metoprolol in order to reduce damage to the heart. The patients who received the early intervention had significantly better outcomes when their heart function was measured over the next 5 to 7 days.

Everyday Health spoke with Dr. Fuster to highlight the success of this new treatment, and any risks associated with it, along with a look at his plans for future studies.

Everyday Health: Is there any way to predict who is most at risk for having a heart attack?

Full story of damage from heart attackes at Everyday Health

Biological Link Between Diabetes and Heart Disease Discovered

UC Davis Health System researchers have identified for the first time a biological pathway that is activated when blood sugar levels are abnormally high and causes irregular heartbeats, a condition known as cardiac arrhythmia that is linked with heart failure and sudden cardiac death.

Reported online today in the journal Nature, the discovery helps explain why diabetes is a significant independent risk factor for heart disease.

“The novel molecular understanding we have uncovered paves the way for new therapeutic strategies that protect the heart health of patients with diabetes,” said Donald Bers, chair of the UC Davis Department of Pharmacology and senior author of the study.

While heart disease is common in the general population, the risk is up to four times greater for diabetics, according to the National Institutes of Health. The American Heart Association estimates that at least 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke and has emphasized the need for research focused on understanding this relationship.

Through a series of experiments, Bers, his UC Davis team and their collaborators at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine showed that the moderate to high blood glucose levels characteristic of diabetes caused a sugar molecule (O-linked N-acetylglucosamine, or O-GlcNAc) in heart muscle cells to fuse to a specific site on a protein known as calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, or CaMKII.

Full story of diabetes and heart disease at Science Daily

The Lowdown on Antioxidants

Antioxidants Help with Healthy AgingStop me if you’ve heard this one: you should eat foods that are high in antioxidants, such as blueberries or pomegranates; they’re “good for you.” What does that even mean? Why are they so “good for you?”

Well, it starts with basic nutrition. Nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene, along with other substances in plant foods, are antioxidants that can help slow down or prevent damage to body cells that can lead to chronic and deadly health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, according to livestrong.com.

Here are some reasons why antioxidants are so important to your health, courtesy of livestrong.com.

Protection Against Heart Disease
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a diet high in fruits, vegetables and other foods that contain antioxidants to help fight cardiovascular disease. They do not recommend antioxidant supplements, however, because there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that they have any beneficial effect on heart disease.

Full story of antioxidants at The Safety Report

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin, http://photopin.com/

7 Things I Learned About Stroke When My Husband Had One

Things to Know About Having a StrokeMy husband suffered a massive stroke two years ago. Grady wasn’t that old (59, at the time) and he was in pretty good health. He was a few pounds overweight, but he wasn’t a smoker, nor did he have a family history that could help us make sense of what happened.

Luckily he survived (it was touch and go for a while there) and although he has some lingering symptoms, he continues to get better every day, even two years later.

For me, the incident shattered many of my perceptions about stroke, which strikes 800,000 Americans every year and kills 130,000. May is National Stroke Awareness Month: What better time to learn about the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.?

Here are some major myths about stroke explained.

Only old people have strokes. False. Although the majority of strokes occur in people over 65, fully one-third occur in patients under 65, like Grady. What’s more, the rate of strokes in young people is rising, a trend largely attributed to the continuing obesity epidemic. But strokes in young people can also be caused by an underlying abnormality–like a congenital defect in the heart–that no one knew about beforehand.

Full story of stroke information at Health News

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin, http://photopin.com/

Walnuts Reduce Diabetes Risk

Walnuts Reduce Diabetes RiskEating walnuts may reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes in women, a large new study concludes.

Previous studies have suggested an inverse relationship between tree nut consumption and diabetes. Though the findings are correlational, walnuts are uniquely high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which may be of particular value in Type 2 diabetes prevention.

The scientists, writing in the April issue of The Journal of Nutrition, used dietary and health data on 138,000 women participating in a large continuing study of women’s health. Beginning in 1999 they collected data on walnut consumption, and followed the women for the next 10 years. They found 5,930 cases of Type 2 diabetes.

Full story of walnuts and diabetes at The New York Times

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin, http://photopin.com/

Holidays can harbor food poisoning risks

Holiday Health At Risk w DiabetesIt’s just about time for the first big holiday of the season known for family, friends and food. And although you might want to consider safety tips when it comes to family and friends (ha ha), you definitely will need to where food is involved.

Food poisoning occurs when you swallow food or water that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses or toxins made by these germs. Most cases of food poisoning are from common bacteria such as Staphylococcus or E. coli. Food poisoning can affect one person or a group of people who ate the same contaminated food. It commonly occurs at gatherings involving lots of people such as restaurants, picnics, holiday meals or parties.

Approximately 76 million people in the United States each year are sickened with food poisoning, and of these, up to 5,200 die. That works out to 144 people every minute getting food poisoning. Infants and elderly people are at the greatest risk, especially those with a serious medical condition, such as kidney disease or diabetes; those with a weakened immune system; or those who travel outside of the United States to areas where they are exposed to germs that cause food poisoning. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also need to be especially cautious.

Full story of holiday health at Las Vegas Review-Journal

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin, http://photopin.com/

Positive Life Satisfaction Appears To Be Protective Against Heart Disease

By Christopher Fisher, PhD

While depression and anxiety have long been recognized as risk factors for heart disease, there is less certainty over the beneficial effects of a ‘positive’ psychological state. Following a study of almost 8000 British civil servants, researchers can now say that a satisfying life is indeed good for the heart. The results of the study are published online today by the European Heart Journal.

The civil servants, who were all members of the Whitehall II study cohort in the UK with an average age of 49 years, were questioned about seven specific areas of their everyday lives: love relationships, leisure activities, standard of living, job, family, sex, and one’s self. They were asked to rate their satisfaction in each domain on a scale of 1 (‘very dissatisfied’) to 7 (‘very satisfied’). Ratings for each domain were also combined to provide an average satisfaction score for their overall lives.

The participants’ health records were then examined for coronary related deaths, non-fatal heart attack, and clinically verified angina over a follow-up period of around six years.

Full story at The Behavioral Medicine Report