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July 24, 2009, 0:01 AM CT

Blood pressure drugs might protect against dementia

Blood pressure drugs might protect against dementia
A particular class of medicine used to treat hypertension could protect elderly adults against memory decline and other impairments in cognitive function, as per a newly published study from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Research suggests that some of the drugs classified as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, specifically those types of ACE inhibitors that affect the brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier, may reduce inflammation that could contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease, a major cause of dementia.

The study appears in the current issue of Archives of Internal Medicine

"Hypertension is an important risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia," said Kaycee Sink, M.D., M.A.S., main author of the study, geriatrician and an assistant professor of internal medicine gerontology. "Our study observed that all blood pressure medications may not be equal when it comes to reducing the risk of dementia in patients with hypertension".

Dementia is the broad term used to describe conditions in the brain that cause loss of brain function. There are several different causes of dementia, but Alzheimer's disease and strokes are two of the most common. People with dementia begin to lose their memory and may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating, may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions, may experience personality changes and/or appears to become agitated or see things that are not there.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 23, 2009, 11:53 PM CT

One in Four Spanish women take antidepressants

One in FourSpanish women take antidepressants
Psychopharmaceutical use has risen over recent years. This is fact, but what is not clear is the reason why. Scientists from four Madrid-based health centres have shown that family conflict is not a significant factor. However, the results reported in the journal Atencin Primaria are striking: in Spain, 24% of women take antidepressants and more than 30% take tranquillisers.

"The use of psychopharmaceuticals is often correlation to family or work-related problems. We wanted to see if there was actually a positive link between the consumption of antidepressants and benzodiazepines and any kind of family dysfunction", Sonsoles Prez, main author of the study reported in the renowned journal Atencin Primaria, and a doctor at the Las guilas Health Centre in Madrid, tells SINC.

The authors studied 121 women aged between 25 and 65, using family dysfunction surveys (the Apgar test), and the additive scale used to evaluate social readjustment (SLE). The psychopharmaceuticals analysed were antidepressants and benzodiazepines (anxiolytics such as lorazepam and bromazepam).

"Eventhough one might believe that family conflicts lead to greater consumption of psychopharmaceuticals among women, we did not find any such relationship", the researcher says, adding that the use of such drugs depends a lot on the population segment taking them. "Some people with family, work-related or financial problems do not feel able to tackle their problems and fall back on the use of drugs", Prez points out.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 16, 2009, 11:54 PM CT

Obesity and adolescents' social networks

Obesity and adolescents' social networks
Scientists from the Institute of Prevention Research at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) found in a recent study that overweight youth were twice as likely to have overweight friends.

"Eventhough this link between obesity and social networks was expected, it was surprising how strong the peer effect is and how early in life it starts," says main author Thomas Valente, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine.

The study appears in the recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, available online July 20 at http://journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/jah/home.

Prior data had shown a correlation between overweight adults and their social peers. However, the USC study used more advanced statistical modeling techniques than prior research and the association remained strong, Valente says.

"The findings certainly raise health concerns because when kids start associating only with others who have a similar weight status it can reinforce the negative behaviors that cause obesity," he says.

In-school surveys were conducted among 617 students ages 11-13 from the greater Los Angeles area. In addition to finding that overweight adolescents were more likely to have overweight friends than their normal-weight peers, the scientists also observed that overweight girls were more likely to name more friends, but less likely to be named as a friend than normal-weight girls.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 14, 2009, 7:41 AM CT

Memory test and PET scans detect early signs of Alzheimer's

Memory test and PET scans detect early signs of Alzheimer's
A large study of patients with mild cognitive impairment revealed that results from cognitive tests and brain scans can work as an early warning system for the subsequent development of Alzheimer's disease.

The research observed that among 85 participants in the study with mild cognitive impairment, those with low scores on a memory recall test and low glucose metabolism in particular brain regions, as detected through positron emission tomography (PET), had a 15-fold greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease within two years, compared with the others in the study.

The results, reported by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, on Tuesday, July 14, at the Alzheimer's Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Vienna, Austria, are a major step forward in the march toward earlier diagnoses of the debilitating disease.

"Not all people with mild cognitive impairment go on to develop Alzheimer's, so it would be extremely useful to be able to identify those who are at greater risk of converting using a clinical test or biological measurement," said the study's main author, Susan Landau, a post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley's Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"The field, in general, is moving toward ways to select people during earlier stages of Alzheimer's disease, including those who show no outward signs of cognitive impairment," said Dr. William Jagust, a faculty member of UC Berkeley's Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and principal investigator of the study. "By the time a patient is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, there is commonly little one can do to stop or reverse the decline. Scientists are trying to determine whether treating patients before severe symptoms appear will be more effective, and that requires better diagnostic tools than what is currently available".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 14, 2009, 7:37 AM CT

Simulating medical situations helps students learn

Simulating medical situations helps students learn
Simulating medical scenarios helps medical students learn and retain vital information, as per a newly released study done by scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The study, recently published in Medical Teacher, shows that medical students not only enjoy patient-simulation experiences but also learn more from them, said Michael T. Fitch, M.D., Ph.D., the senior author of the paper and an associate professor of emergency medicine at the School of Medicine.

"There's no question that people like it," Fitch said. "People really enjoy participating in an immersive learning environment. The purpose of this study was to find out whether this also makes our students learn and retain knowledge better".

For the study, first-year medical students received a traditional lecture on basic neuroscience concepts from a faculty member, followed by a brief questionnaire in an informal class exercise two days later.

Three days after that, without further discussion of the questionnaire or receiving answers, those same students participated in a 90-minute live simulation of a medical emergency. Students were told that the patient "SimMan," a computerized mannequin that can be programmed to have different medical problems had altered mental status, nausea and vomiting.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 6, 2009, 7:45 PM CT

Students with depression twice as likely to drop out of college

Students with depression twice as likely to drop out of college
College students with depression are twice as likely as their classmates to drop out of school, new research shows.

However, the research also indicates that lower grade point averages depended upon a student's type of depression, as per Daniel Eisenberg, assistant professor in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and principal investigator of the study.

There are two core symptoms of depression---loss of interest and pleasure in activities, or depressed mood---but only loss of interest is linked to lower grade point averages.

"The connection between depression and academic performance is mainly driven by loss of interest in activities," Eisenberg said. "This is significant because it means individuals can be very depressed and very functional, depending on which type of depression they have. I believe that this can be true for a number of high achieving people, who may feel down and hopeless but not lose interest in activities.

"Lots of students who have significant depression on some dimension are performing just fine, but appears to be at risk and go unnoticed because there is no noticeable drop in functioning".

Students with both depression and anxiety had particularly poor academic performance.

"If you take a student at the 50th percentile of the GPA distribution and compare them to a student with depression alone, the depressed student would be around the 37th percentile---a 13 percent drop," Eisenberg said. "However, a student with depression and anxiety plummets to about the 23rd percentile, a 50 percent drop."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 4, 2009, 10:58 PM CT

Overweight Kids Experience More Loneliness

Overweight Kids Experience More Loneliness
As childhood obesity rates continue to increase, experts agree that more information is needed about the implications of being overweight as a step toward reversing current trends. Now, a new University of Missouri study has observed that overweight children, particularly girls, show signs of the negative consequences of being overweight as early as kindergarten.

"We observed that both boys and girls who were overweight from kindergarten through third grade displayed more depression, anxiety and loneliness than kids who were never overweight, and those negative feelings worsened over time," said Sara Gable, associate professor of human development and family studies in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. "Overweight is widely considered a stigmatizing condition and overweight individuals are typically blamed for their situation. The experience of being stigmatized often leads to negative feelings, even in children".

MU scientists used the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) to examine the social and behavioral development of 8,000 school-age children from kindergarten entry through third grade. The scientists reviewed factors that have not been studied previously: age at becoming overweight and length of time being overweight.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 25, 2009, 6:01 PM CT

More gene mutations linked to autism risk

More gene mutations linked to autism risk
More pieces in the complex autism inheritance puzzle are emerging in the latest study from a research team including geneticists from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and several collaborating institutions. This study identified 27 different genetic regions where rare copy number variations missing or extra copies of DNA segments were found in the genes of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), but not in the healthy controls. The complex combination of multiple genetic duplications and deletions is thought to interfere with gene function, which can disrupt the production of proteins necessary for normal neurological development.

"We focused on changes in the exons of DNAprotein-coding areas in which deletions or duplications are more likely to directly disrupt biological functions," said study leader Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "We identified additional autism susceptibility genes, a number of of which, as we previously found, belong to the neuronal cell adhesion molecule family involved in the development of brain circuitry in early childhood." He added that the team discovered a number of "private" gene mutations, those found only in one or a few individuals or familiesan indication of genetic complexity, in which a number of different gene changes may contribute to an autism spectrum disorder.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 16, 2009, 4:56 AM CT

Why do we choose our mates?

Why do we choose our mates?
Charles Darwin wrote about it 150 years ago: animals don't pick their mates by pure chance it's a process that is deliberate and involves numerous factors. After decades of examining his work, experts agree that he pretty much scored a scientific bullseye, but a very big question is, "What have we learned since then?" asks a Texas A&M University biologist who has studied Darwin's theories.

Adam Jones, an evolutional biologist who has studied Darwin's work for years, says that Darwin's beliefs about the choice of mates and sexual selection being beyond mere chance have been proven correct, as stated in Darwin's landmark book The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. His work has withstood decades of analysis and scrutiny, as Jones states in his paper, "Mate Choice and Sexual Selection: What Have We Learned Since Darwin?" in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Bottom line: It's no accident that certain peahens submit to gloriously-colored male peacocks, that lions get the females of their choice or that humans spend hours primping to catch the perfect spouses it's a condition that is ingrained into all creatures and a conscious "choice" is made between the two so the romantic fireworks can begin.

Jones says Darwin set the standard for original thinking about animal reproduction and was first scientist to propose plausible mechanisms of evolution, and from there he took it one step further he confirmed that animals' mating choices can drive evolutionary change.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 11, 2009, 5:11 AM CT

Depressed mood may lead to premature birth

Depressed mood may lead to premature birth
Scientists trying to uncover why premature birth is a growing problem in the United States and one that disproportionately affects black women have observed that pre-pregnancy depressive mood may be a risk factor in preterm birth among both blacks and whites.

Black women, however, have nearly two times the odds of having a preterm birth in comparison to white women, as per Amelia Gavin, a University of Washington assistant professor of social work and main author of a newly released study that appears online in the recent issue of the Journal of Women's Health.

"Preterm births are one of the most significant health disparities in the United States and the overall number of these births increased from 10.6 percent in 2000 to 12.8 percent in 2005," she said.

While there may be some sort of link between giving birth prematurely and depressed mood, the study found no cause and effect, said Gavin, who studies health disparities. She believes the higher preterm birth rate among blacks appears to be the result of declining health over time among black women.

For this study, premature birth referred to any child born after less than 37 weeks of gestation. Normal gestation ranges from 38 to 42 weeks. Data for the study was drawn from a larger longitudinal investigation looking at the risks for cardiovascular disease among more than 5,000 young adults in four metropolitan areas. The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study also collected information about mental health and pregnancy outcomes. Between 1990 and 1996, 555 women in the larger study gave birth. These women were the subjects in the depression-premature birth study.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Too little evidence exists to recommend or rule out estrogen as a treatment for schizophrenia in women, a new review of studies finds.People diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer distorted perceptions of reality and hallucinations. Today, estrogen is strictly an experimental therapy for the psychotic symptoms associated with the mental illness.

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