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Apathy in older folks could signal shrinking brain
April 16th, 2014
04:13 PM ET

Apathy in older folks could signal shrinking brain

Being apathetic is usually defined as showing a lack of enthusiasm or energy. Most people who experience it say they just aren’t motivated to do anything.

Although anyone in any age group can become apathetic, it has been well documented that apathy tends to affect those in their golden years. Now scientists believe that an elderly person’s lack of emotion and indifference to the world could be a sign his or her brain is shrinking.

A study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, and funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Aging, found that older folks, who are apathetic - but not depressed – may be suffering from smaller brain volumes than those without apathy. FULL POST


Blood pressure in gray area? You're still facing stroke risk
March 12th, 2014
04:02 PM ET

Blood pressure in gray area? You're still facing stroke risk

Nearly one-third of Americans have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When it’s not under control, it can lead to heart damage, stroke and even death.

Now new research suggests anyone with blood pressure even slightly higher than the optimal 120/80 may be more likely to have a stroke –including those patients who are diagnosed as pre-hypertensive.

The research, which is published in the Wednesday online issue of Neurology, looked at 19 studies done on the risk of developing stroke in people with "pre-hypertension," or blood pressure that falls in the gray area, between 120/80 and 140/90. More than 760,000 participants were followed for time periods ranging from four to 36 years.

The analysis found people who were pre-hypertensive were 66% more likely to develop a stroke than people who had normal blood pressure. The results were the same even when investigators adjusted for other stroke risk factors, such as diabetes and smoking.

FULL POST


NIH, drug companies team up to target diseases
February 4th, 2014
02:41 PM ET

NIH, drug companies team up to target diseases

The National Institutes of Health is partnering with researchers from 10 rival drug companies and several nonprofit organizations to develop new and earlier treatments for diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer's and lupus.

The partnership, announced  Tuesday by NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, "could change the way scientific research is conducted."

"This is an unprecedented partnership, bringing the best and brightest scientists from the public and the private sectors together to discover the next generation of drug targets that are going to transform our ability to treat Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and that's just getting started,” Collins said.

The consortium will be known as the Accelerating Medicines Partnership.  It will focus at first on three disease groups: Alzheimer's, diabetes and autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

FULL POST


Best ways to prevent and treat the common cold
January 27th, 2014
01:59 PM ET

Best ways to prevent and treat the common cold

Although the world of medicine has made incredible progress when it comes to tackling certain illnesses, scientists still have not been able to find the cure for the common cold. But there are ways to prevent colds as well as treat them. The question is, which are the most effective?

According to a review in the recent edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, hand washing and possibly taking zinc seem to be the best ways to avoid getting sick. Investigators reviewed 67 randomized controlled trials that showed hand washing as well as alcohol disinfectants are the best ways to ward off colds.

Zinc was found to work mostly in children, with two trials showing that little ones who took 10 to 12 milligrams of zinc sulfate every day had fewer colds and fewer absences from school because of colds. Authors of the study suggest that zinc could work for adults. Vitamin C, the "gold standard" of cold fighters, did not seem as effective.

FULL POST


Shingles may increase stroke, heart attack risk
January 2nd, 2014
04:01 PM ET

Shingles may increase stroke, heart attack risk

Having shingles, especially when you are younger, may increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack later in life, according to a new study published this week in the online issue of Neurology.

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's the same virus that causes chickenpox. Also called herpes zoster, shingles appears as a painful rash, which in some cases can lead to further infection if left untreated. Doctors say the virus remains dormant in the nerve roots of people who have had chickenpox; anyone who has the virus as a child may develop an outbreak of shingles later on.

In this study, British researchers looked at more than 105,000 people who had had shingles and more than 213,000 people who had not. They found people aged 18 to 40 who had shingles were more likely to have a stroke, warning stroke (also known as a transient ischemic attack), or heart attack later in life.
FULL POST


Heartburn drugs could cause B12 deficiency
December 11th, 2013
11:00 AM ET

Heartburn drugs could cause B12 deficiency

Patients who use certain acid-suppressing drugs for heartburn over a period of two years or longer are more likely to suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency than those who do not use them, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2 blockers), are available by prescription and over-the-counter, under names such as Prilosec and Nexium. They are designed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, as well as other acid-related conditions.

FULL POST


November 18th, 2013
09:18 AM ET

Long-term Pill use may double glaucoma risk

Women who used birth control pills for three years or more have twice the risk of developing glaucoma later in life, according to new research.

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve and is a leading cause of blindness in the United States.

It’s been well documented that low-estrogen levels following menopause contribute to glaucoma in women. Scientists don’t know exactly why this happens.  But years of using birth control pills, which can also lower estrogen levels, may add to the problem.

The study, conducted by researchers at University of California, San Francisco, Duke University School of Medicine and Third Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang, China, did not differentiate between women who took low-estrogen or regular birth control pills. Investigators theorize that when women are not on the pill, their natural estrogen levels go up and down, which seems to prevent the eye from developing glaucoma.  When women go on the pill, their estrogen levels are consistent, and in some cases consistently low, which could cause them to develop the condition.

This research project is the first to suggest an increased risk of glaucoma in women who have used oral contraceptives for three or more years. The researchers looked at data on more than 3,400 women aged 40 and older from across the United States, who answered questionnaires about their reproductive health and eye exams.    FULL POST


Testosterone treatment could be dangerous to the heart
A new study links testosterone therapy to an increased risk of heart problems.
November 5th, 2013
04:27 PM ET

Testosterone treatment could be dangerous to the heart

It’s become the hot new treatment for older men. “T,” or testosterone replacement therapy, has been touted as the new way to turn back a man’s body clock and improve his sexual performance.  

But there may be trouble in paradise, according to new research.  In a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, scientists have found that men taking testosterone therapy had a 29% greater risk of death, heart attack and stroke  than those who were not on the hormone replacement.

The study included 8,709 men with low testosterone levels, who underwent coronary angiography, a procedure used to open narrow or blocked coronary arteries, in the Veterans Affairs (VA) system between 2005 and 2011. Some were found not to have blockages.

Researchers found the number of patients experiencing heart problems such as attacks and strokes three years after their angiographies, was 19.9% for those who were not on testosterone and 25.7% for those who were.  Even when scientists accounted for other factors in the patients’ health, the increase of heart events in those on testosterone therapy was significant, according to the study.

FULL POST


Vitamin B may lower stroke risk
September 19th, 2013
02:33 PM ET

Vitamin B may lower stroke risk

New evidence suggests taking vitamin B supplements may help reduce the risk of stroke.

A study, published this week in the online issue of Neurology, analyzed 14 randomized clinical trials of vitamin B that included a total of 54,913 participants. All of the studies compared the supplement use with a placebo or a very low-dose B vitamin. The patients were then followed for a minimum of six months.

The purpose of this meta-analysis was to see if vitamin B lowered homocysteine levels in the blood, which are associated with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clot formation and possibly Alzheimer's disease.

"Previous studies have conflicting findings regarding the use of vitamin B supplements and stroke or heart attack," said study author Dr. Xu Yuming, with Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, China. "Some studies have even suggested that the supplements may increase the risk of these events."
FULL POST


Copper may be a trigger of Alzheimer's disease
August 19th, 2013
03:54 PM ET

Copper may be a trigger of Alzheimer's disease

Copper, which is found in anything from drinking water to red meats, may be an environmental trigger of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests copper keeps toxic proteins from leaving the brain.

It is clear that, over time, copper impairs the systems through which amyloid beta is removed from the brain, said Rashid Deane, a research professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center  Department of Neurosurgery, member of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine, and lead author of the study.  This causes the protein "to accumulate in the brain and form the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease." FULL POST


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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