Researchers find physical activity in preschool years can affect future heart health

Physical activity in early childhood may have an impact on cardiovascular health later in life, according to new research from McMaster University, where scientists followed the activity levels of hundreds of preschoolers over a period of years.

They found that physical activity in children as young as three years old benefits blood vessel health, cardiovascular fitness and is key to the prevention of early risk indicators that can lead to adult heart disease.

The study, named “Health Outcomes and Physical activity in Preschoolers”, published today in the journal Pediatrics, is the first to demonstrate the benefits of physical activity on blood vessel health in preschoolers.

Full story at Medical Xpress

Meditation could help reduce anxiety levels and some heart health risk factors

It sounds like a late-night commercial: In just one hour you can reduce your anxiety levels and some heart health risk factors. But a recent study with 14 participants shows preliminary data that even a single session of meditation can have cardiovascular and psychological benefits for adults with mild to moderate anxiety.

John Durocher, assistant professor of biological sciences, is presenting the work of a team of Michigan Technological University researchers about mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce anxiety at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting April 21-25 in San Diego, which is attended by approximately 14,000 people.

In “Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Aortic Pulsatile Load and Anxiety in Mild to Moderately Anxious Adults,” Durocher, along with fellow researchers Hannah Marti, a recent Michigan Tech graduate, Brigitte Morin, lecturer in biological science, and Travis Wakeham, a graduate student, explains the finding that 60 minutes after meditating the 14 study participants showed lower resting heart rates and reduction in aortic pulsatile load–the amount of change in blood pressure between diastole and systole of each heartbeat multiplied by heart rate. Additionally, shortly after meditating, and even one week later, the group reported anxiety levels were lower than pre-meditation levels.

Full story at News-Medical.net

Computer models could help design physical therapy regimens

After a stroke, patients typically have trouble walking and few are able to regain the gait they had before suffering a stroke. Researchers funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) have developed a computational walking model that could help guide patients to their best possible recovery after a stroke. Computational modeling uses computers to simulate and study the behavior of complex systems using mathematics, physics, and computer science. In this case, researchers are developing a computational modeling program that can construct a model of the patient from the patient’s walking data collected on a treadmill and then predict how the patient will walk after different planned rehabilitation treatments. They hope that one day the model will be able to predict the best gait a patient can achieve after completing rehabilitation, as well as recommend the best rehabilitation approach to help the patient achieve an optimal recovery.

Currently, there is no way for a clinician to determine the most effective rehabilitation treatment prescription for a patient. Clinicians cannot always know which treatment approach to use, or how the approach should be implemented to maximize walking recovery. B.J. Fregly, Ph.D. and his team (Andrew Meyer, Ph.D., Carolynn Patten, PT., Ph.D., and Anil Rao, Ph.D.) at the University of Florida developed a computational modeling approach to help answer these questions. They tested the approach on a patient who had suffered a stroke.

Full story of computer models help design PT regiments at Science Daily

Researchers Find ‘Unsettling’ Uptick in Stroke Rates in Adults Under 55

A recent study of stroke rates has found that while rates have declined in patients older than age 55, there has been an uptick among younger populations—and the potential underlying factors are “unsettling.”

Authors of the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, write that over the past 20 years, the incidence of stroke has decreased in many countries, but that trend may now be reversing itself. Researchers applied an “age-period-cohort” analysis to data from the Myocardial Infarction Data Acquisition System in New Jersey in an attempt to “unravel the separate effects due to aging, secular changes, and life course experience” on incidence of ischemic stroke and ST-elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI). The time periods considered were 1995-1999 (period 1), 2000-2004 (period 2), 2005-2009 (period 3), and 2010-2014 (period 4).

Full story of uptick in stroke rates in adults under 55 at APTA

Study: Primary Prevention Key to Decreasing Disparity in Black-White Stroke Mortality Rate

Reducing the stark disparity in stroke mortality between black and white Americans requires a focus on risk prevention in primary care and public health, say authors of a new study. But, they add, those efforts need to “go further upstream” by examining the reasons for the higher prevalence of stroke risk factors among black Americans, including consideration of what authors call “nontraditional risk factors.”

While overall stroke mortality and risk factors such as hypertension have declined over the years for both groups, black Americans at age 45 are more than 3 times as likely as their white peers to die of the disease. Although this difference has existed for decades, it wasn’t clear, based on evidence, where and how to target interventions accordingly.

The big question, according to authors, has to do with whether black Americans are having more strokes than white Americans, or whether strokes are more often fatal for black Americans. The answer could help health care providers, including physical therapists, understand the best way to approach this public health issue.

Full story of disparity in black-white stroke mortality rate at APTA

Move Forward Radio Discusses Heart Health and Cardiac Rehab for American Heart Month

Knowing the signs of heart attack is important, but just as important are understanding the risk factors for heart disease and making the lifestyle changes that can reduce those risks. That’s the focus of a recent Move Forward Radio episode that addresses heart health issues and the role of a physical therapist.

In recognition of February as American Heart Month, Move Forward Radio talks with Pamela Bartlo, PT, DPT, CCS, who outlines the signs of a heart attack and risk behaviors for heart disease. She also describes the role of a PT in cardiac rehabilitation, and discusses how cardiac rehabilitation works best as a part of a lifestyle change for people who have heart issues.

Full story of heart health and cardiac rehab at APTA

‘Apparently Healthy’ Individuals Who Can’t Balance on 1 Foot Have Higher Rates of Cerebral Vessel Disease, Cognitive Decline

A new study from Japan has found that among apparently healthy middle-aged adults, an inability to balance on 1 foot for more than 20 seconds could be an indicator of cerebral small vessel disease (cSVD), a condition that can lead to stroke and cognitive impairment. The same group also showed higher rates of cognitive decline.

The study tested 1,387 individuals from 49 to 75 years old (average age 67) for postural instability and compared the results with brain MRI scans. The results were e-published ahead of print in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke (abstract only available for free).

Researchers used 2 tests to measure postural stability: a 1-leg standing time (OLST) assessment, and a posturograph test of center of gravity. For the OLST, subjects were allowed to choose the leg on which they stood and were measured on 2 attempts to balance on 1 foot with eyes open for 1 minute. The posturograph test used a footplate that measured fluctuations in pressure while subjects stood on both feet and viewed a “circular achromatic target” placed 200 centimeters (78.7 inches) away. After sitting for 1 minute, subjects were reassessed while standing with their eyes closed.

Full story of balancing on one foot and cognitive decline at APTA

Treadmill Training’s Benefits Mixed for Individuals Poststroke

For people who have had a stroke and are unable to walk at the outset of treatment, treadmill training is not likely to aid their progress toward walking independently—but for patients with stroke who are ambulatory, the intervention may significantly improve endurance and speed. These were the broad conclusions reached in a recent review of 44 trials and 2,658 participants.

The research, to be published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews(abstract only available for free at this time), focused on “randomized or quasi-randomized controlled and crossover trials of treadmill training and body weight support, individually or in combinations, for the treatment of walking after stroke.” Authors focused on outcomes related to walking speed, endurance, and dependency.

Full story of treadmill training at APTA

Sitting Connected With Heart Failure in Men

The flurry of news and magazine articles last year proclaiming that “sitting is the new smoking” may have been a bit hyperbolic, but apparently there’s at least 1 thing a sedentary lifestyle has in common with tobacco use: increased risk of heart failure in men, even with low to moderate exercise.

The conclusion is drawn from an article (abstract only available for free) recently published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, and has received wide attention in newspapers and other media. The study focused on lifestyles of 84,170 men aged 45 to 69 and the incidence of heart failure (HF) over time. Researchers found that while high rates of physical activity did reduce risk of HF, low to moderate exercise had less of an impact on HF rates among men who also spent relatively long periods of time sitting.

Full story on connected heart failure 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