Physical Activity May Decrease Mortality Risk in Frail Older Adults, Say Researchers

While previous research has found that physical exercise decreases fall risk and improves mobility, researchers at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) in Spain wondered whether physical activity could reduce frailty-associated mortality risk. In their study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, authors found that physical activity decreased mortality rates for healthy, prefrail, and frail adults over age 60.

Authors used data from a nationally representative sample of 3,896 community-dwelling individuals to explore any “separate and joint associations between physical activity and frailty” and all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality rates.

At baseline, in 2000–2001, researchers interviewed participants at home about their “leisure-time” physical activity: inactive, occasional, several times a month, or several times a week. They administered both the Fatigue, Resistance, Ambulation, Illness, and weight Loss (FRAIL) scale and 3 items from the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) to measure frailty, fatigue, resistance, ambulation, and weight loss. Participants also were asked whether they had been diagnosed with pneumonia, asthma or chronic bronchitis, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis or rheumatism, diabetes mellitus, depression under drug treatment, hip fracture, Parkinson disease, or cancer.

Full story at APTA

Simple test may help predict long-term outcome after stroke

A simple test taken within a week of a stroke may help predict how well people will have recovered up to three years later, according to a study published in the October 17, 2018, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“We found that this test, which takes less than 10 minutes, can help predict whether people will have impaired thinking skills, problems that keep them from performing daily tasks such as bathing and dressing and even whether they will be more likely to die,” said study author Martin Dichgans, MD, of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. “This test should be used to screen people with stroke and to counsel them and their families about long-term prognosis and also to identify those who would most benefit from interventions that could improve their outcomes.”

For the study, 274 people in Germany and France who had a stroke were given the test, called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, within a week of the stroke. They were then divided into two groups: those with no problems with thinking and memory skills and those with cognitive impairment. The participants were tested for their thinking and memory skills, motor functioning and ability to complete daily living tasks six months later and then at one and three years after the stroke.

Full story at Science Daily

Walking for 35 minutes a day could halve elderly people’s risk of having a severe stroke, study claims

A daily stroll could halve older people’s risk of a severe stroke, according to a study.

It found stroke victims who had taken regular 35-minute walks before being struck down were twice as likely to suffer milder attacks than those who hadn’t.

Study author Professor Katharina Sunnerhagen, of Gothenburg University in Sweden, said: ‘There is a growing body of evidence that physical activity may have a protective effect on the brain and our research adds to that evidence.’

The latest findings, published in the journal Neurology, were based on 925 people with an average age of 73 who had a stroke.

Full story at msn.com

It’s not just for kids—even adults appear to benefit from a regular bedtime

Sufficient sleep has been proven to help keep the body healthy and the mind sharp. But it’s not just an issue of logging at least seven hours of Z’s.

A new study on sleep patterns suggests that a regular bedtime and wake time are just as important for heart and metabolic health among older adults.

In a study of 1,978 older adults publishing Sept. 21 in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers at Duke Health and the Duke Clinical Research Institute found people with irregular sleep patterns weighed more, had higher blood sugar, higher blood pressure, and a higher projected risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years than those who slept and woke at the same times every day.

Irregular sleepers were also more likely to report depression and stress than regular sleepers, both of which are tied to heart health.

Full story at Medical Xpress

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

Stroke: Can the brain ‘rewire’ itself to aid recovery?

Temporary sensory deprivation may improve recovery following a stroke by making space for the brain to rewire itself, suggests new research by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO.

A report published in Science Translational Medicine explains how the scientists came to this conclusion after observing stroke recovery in mice that had had their whiskers clipped.

The team revealed that mice were more likely to recover use of a front paw after a stroke if they had their whiskers trimmed.

A rodent’s whiskers are an important sensory organ with a rich nerve supply.

Full story at Medical News Today

Under 2 hours of walking per week may considerably prolong life

A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that even a little walking can significantly reduce mortality risk, compared with inactivity.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 minutes of intense physical activity, each week to reap “substantial” health benefits.

Some of these benefits include a reduced risk of premature death, cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Full story at Medical News Today

Horse, rhythm-and-music therapies may boost recovery after stroke

Horseback riding and rhythm-and-music therapies may improve stroke survivors’ perception of recovery, gait, balance, grip strength and cognition years after their stroke, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

A variety of interventions that engage patients in physical, sensory, cognitive and social activities simultaneously target a range of functions. Researchers said this combination of different activities and stimuli, rather than the individual components, appear to produce additional beneficial effects for stroke recovery.

“Significant improvements are still possible, even years after a stroke, using motivating, comprehensive therapies provided in stimulating physical and social surroundings to increase brain activity and recovery,” said Michael Nilsson, M.D., Ph.D. senior author and Director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute and Professor at the University of Newcastle in Australia and University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Full story of horse rhythm therapy after strokes at Medical News Today

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