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September 3, 2008, 7:02 PM CT

Cholesterol drugs lower risk of stroke for elderly too

Cholesterol drugs lower risk of stroke for elderly too
Elderly people who take a cholesterol drug after a stroke or mini-stroke lower their risk of having another stroke just as much as younger people in the same situation, as per research reported in the September 3, 2008, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Even though the majority of strokes and heart attacks occur in people who are 65 and older, studies have observed that cholesterol-lowering drugs are not prescribed as often for older people as they are for younger people," said study author Seemant Chaturvedi, MD, of Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. "These results show that using these drugs is just as beneficial for people who are over 65 as they are for younger people".

The study involved 4,731 people age 18 and older who had a recent stroke or transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke. The 2,249 people age 65 and older were in one group, with an average age of 72, and the 2,482 people under age 65 made up the other group, with an average age of 54. Within each group, about half of the people received the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin and about half received a placebo. The participants were then followed for an average of four and a half years.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 2, 2008, 8:08 PM CT

Age-related memory loss tied to slip in filtering information quickly

Age-related memory loss tied to slip in filtering information quickly
Researchers have identified a way in which the brain's ability to process information diminishes with age, and shown that this break down contributes to the decreased ability to form memories that is linked to normal aging.

The finding, published in the current online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, fuels the researchers' efforts, they say, to explore strategies for enhancing brain function in the healthy aging population, through mental training exercises and pharmaceutical therapys.

This research, which was conducted by University of California, San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley scientists, builds on the team's seminal 2005 discovery ("Nature Neuroscience," October 2005) that the brain's capacity to ignore irrelevant information diminishes with age.

The capacity to ignore irrelevant information -- such as most of the faces in a crowded room when one is looking for a long-lost friend and to enhance pertinent information -- such as the face of a new acquaintance met during the search for the old friend is key to memory formation. This process is known as top-down modulation.

In the 2005 study, the team recorded brain activity in younger and elderly adults given a visual memory test in which they were shown sequences of images (sets of two faces and two scenes), told to remember a specific category, and then asked to identify an image from that category nine seconds later. The scientists, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), determined that the neurons of the older participants (ages 60 to 72) responded excessively to the images they should have ignored, in comparison to the younger adults (ages 19 to 33). This attention to the distracting information directly correlated with how well the participants did on the memory test.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 2, 2008, 7:24 PM CT

Gene is likely cause of stroke-inducing vascular malformations

Gene is likely cause of stroke-inducing vascular malformations
Rong Wang, PhD
UCSF researchers have discovered that a gene controlling whether blood vessels differentiate into arteries or veins during embryonic development is associated with a vascular disorder in the brain that causes stroke.

The UCSF studies were done in mice, and the new findings are the first to provide information on both the progression and regression of this particular brain disorder, known as BAVM, and to provide molecular clues into the disease, which is not well-understood and chiefly affects young people.

BAVM, for brain arteriovenous malformation, is a vascular disorder causing arteries and veins to be directly connected, rather than through capillaries. This direct connection produces enlarged, tangled masses of vessels that are prone to hemorrhagic rupture, bleeding and stroke. Because they develop most often in growing tissues, BAVMs are responsible for half of the hemorrhagic strokes in children.

Study findings were published in a recent issue (Aug. 5, 2008) of the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

The UCSF team identified the gene, known as Notch, as a potential cause of BAVMs because of its role in directing embryonic blood vessel formation. Using genetic tools, the team "turned on" a constantly active Notch gene in endothelial brain cells, which are the cells lining blood vessels in the brain, and observed that BAVMs were induced. When scientists turned the gene off, the mice exhibited full recovery from the disease's progression.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 31, 2008, 8:47 PM CT

Magnesium Sulfate Reduces Risk of Cerebral Palsy

Magnesium Sulfate Reduces Risk of Cerebral Palsy
Results of a 10-year study reported in the August 28 issue of the New England Journal (NEJM) observed that magnesium sulfate administered to women delivering before 32 weeks of gestation reduced the risk of cerebral palsy by 50 percent. The Beneficial Effects of Antenatal Magnesium Sulfate (BEAM) trial was conducted in 18 centers in the U.S., including Northwestern Memorial, and is the first prenatal intervention ever found to reduce the instance of cerebral palsy correlation to premature birth.

Magnesium sulfate is traditionally used in obstetrics to stop premature labor and prevent seizures in women with hypertension. The BEAM trial studied the link between magnesium sulfate and cerebral palsy by identifying 2,240 women who were likely to give birth more than two months premature. Half of the women intravenously received magnesium sulfate while the other half received a placebo. Children born to the women in the study were examined at two-years-old, and results observed that the children in the magnesium group were 50 percent less likely to develop cerebral palsy in comparison to children in the placebo group.

"This is a substantial breakthrough in maternal fetal medicine that could positively impact the health of thousands of babies," said Alan Peaceman, MD, chair of the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and an investigator in the study. "After 10 years of studying the effects of magnesium sulfate, it has proven to be a successful method of reducing the outcome of cerebral palsy in premature births".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 31, 2008, 8:18 PM CT

Telmisartan reduces outcome of heart attack or stroke

Telmisartan reduces outcome of heart attack or stroke
Telmisartan
An international study led by Canadian scientists has observed that telmisartan, a medicine used to lower blood pressure, reduced the outcome of cardiovascular death, heart attack or stroke in people who are unable to tolerate a widely available and effective standard therapy.

Dr. Salim Yusuf and Dr. Koon Teo, professors in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University and clinicians at Hamilton Health Sciences, led the study. Today the research results will be published online by The Lancet and presented at this year's European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, Gera number of.

ACE inhibitors, or angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors, are widely used and effective medications used to lower blood pressure. They work by helping to widen blood vessels to improve blood flow. Approximately 20 per cent of patients who could benefit from an ACE inhibitor stop taking it because of cough, kidney problems, swelling or symptomatic low blood pressure.

Telmisartan is a type of angiotensin-receptor blocker, or ARB. Like ACE inhibitors, telmisartan also lowers blood pressure, but works in a different manner. ARBs block the receptor sites in the body for angiotensin II, a naturally occurring hormone that constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 27, 2008, 9:13 PM CT

Pregnancy situations have impact on brain development

Pregnancy situations have impact on brain development
Brain development in infants who are born very prematurely is still incomplete. Factors that cause premature birth may have an impact on the development of the premature infant's brain both during pregnancy and later on after birth. A project conducted as part of the Academy of Finland Research Programme on Neuroscience (NEURO) is concerned to study brain growth and development invery premature or low-weight infants.

The central nervous system in small premature infants is highly susceptible to damage as the immature organism tries to adapt to the intensive care environment following release from the intrauterine environment. Researchers working on the PIPARI project at Turku University Central Hospital have followed premature low-weight infants and investigated factors impacting the growth and development of their brain as well as their two-year prognosis from pregnancy onwards. A total of 232 pre-term infants have been followed and in comparison to 246 full-term controls. The children will be followed for a total of six years, from birth through to school age.

The results of the project indicate that the redistribution of foetal blood flow, indicative of placental insufficiency, leads to smaller brain volume in preterm infants at term equivalent age. In this situation the foetus directs a larger proportion of the blood flow to its brain.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


August 27, 2008, 9:06 PM CT

Army personnel show increased risk for migraine

Army personnel show increased risk for migraine
Two new studies show that migraine headaches are very common among U.S. military personnel, yet the condition is frequently underdiagnosed. The studies, appearing in Headache, the peer-evaluated journal of the American Headache Society, examine the incidence among soldiers within 10 days of returning from a 1-year combat tour in Iraq , as well as U.S. Army officer trainees.

The U.S. active-duty military population is composed chiefly of young adults, which is the age group at highest risk for migraine. However, the reported rates are higher than those of similar age and gender in the general U.S. population.

The findings show that 19 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq screened positive for migraine and an additional 17 percent screened positive for possible migraine. Soldiers with a positive migraine screen suffered a mean average of 3.1 headache days per month, headache durations of 5.2 hours and 2.4 impaired duty days per month due to headache. Soldiers with migraine contacted 3 months after returning from Iraq had a mean of 5.3 headache days per month.

18 percent of U.S. Army officer trainees experienced migraine headaches over a 1-year period (13.9 percent for males, 31.4 percent for females) and, of those, 50 percent experienced migraines during a 5-week period of intensive military training. Migraine headaches were found to significantly impede training in 4 percent of all cadets during this time. 76 percent of cadets who screened positive for migraine had never been diagnosed.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 25, 2008, 10:27 PM CT

New hope for stroke patients

New hope for stroke patients
If a stroke patient doesn't get therapy within approximately the first three hours of symptoms, there's not much doctors can do to limit damage to the brain.

But now scientists report a technique that potentially could restore functions to patients weeks or even months after a stroke. The technique involves jumpstarting the growth of nerve fibers to compensate for brain cells destroyed by the stroke.

"In the best-case scenario, this would open up the window of time that people could recover and go back to normal functional status," said Gwendolyn Kartje, MD, Ph.D., a professor in the department of cell biology, neurobiology and anatomy and department of neurology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Ill. and chief of neuroscience research at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Ill.

Kartje and his colleagues described the experimental approach, called anti-nogo-A immunotherapy, in a recent review article in the journal Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation

Anti-nogo has dramatically improved functions in lab animals that have experienced strokes. And an ongoing clinical trial in Europe and Canada is testing anti-nogo in humans who have suffered spinal cord injuries.

Most strokes are caused by clots that block blood flow to one part of the brain, killing brain cells within hours. The drug TPA can minimize damage by dissolving the clot. But TPA is safe and effective only when given within about three hours of the onset of symptoms. Most patients don't receive therapy within that brief window. Patients typically arrive at the hospital too late, or hospitals do not begin administering TPA soon enough.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 18, 2008, 9:16 PM CT

How memory deals with a change in plans

How memory deals with a change in plans
You're about to leave work at the end of the day when your cell phone rings: it's your spouse, asking that you pick up a gallon of milk on the way home. Before you head out the door, though, your spouse calls again and asks you to stop by the hardware store too. Based on your knowledge of the area and rush-hour traffic, you decide to get the milk first and the toilet plunger second. But whoops! The phone rings again. This time, it's your boss, asking you to work late. That means another change of plans.

Adjusting our behavior to such changing circumstances enables us to achieve our goals. But how, exactly, do our brains switch so elegantly and quickly from one well-entrenched plan to a newer one in reaction to a sudden change in circumstances? In the milk-hardware-boss example, do we simply remember a list of streets and turns, or do we remember a more abstract set of "rules" governing the web of relationships between the items we want to buy, our driving route and our relationships with spouse and employer?.

The answer is "both," as per scientists at The Johns Hopkins University, who have learned that two different areas of the brain are responsible for the way human beings handle complex sets of "if-then" rules. The researchers, led by Susan Courtney, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, learned that rules that people must actively remember (in other words, which are not part of their everyday habits) are controlled primarily through the prefrontal cortex, which is in the very front of the brain, beneath the forehead.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 29, 2008, 11:48 PM CT

New Alzheimer's predictors

New Alzheimer's predictors
By combining MRI brain scans and measurements of certain compounds in the cerebrospinal fluid, NYU scientists were able to distinguish individuals who would develop Alzheimer's disease over a two-year period. In a study of 23 people, they found atrophy in areas of the brain involved in learning and memory, and significantly higher CSF levels of phosphorylated tau and other compounds among individuals who would develop Alzheimer's in comparison to those individuals who didn't progress from mild cognitive impairment over the two-year period. This preliminary study suggests that combining these tests could help predict which individuals with mild cognitive impairment are at the highest risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.
Presentation # P3-067.

Big Immune Response to Common Mouth Bacteria Associated with Alzheimer's.
Angela R Kamer, D.M.D., M.S., PhD., Assistant Professor, College of Dentistry, New York University.

In a study investigating the link between Alzheimer's disease and a heightened inflammatory-immune response, NYU scientists observed that twice as a number of subjects with probable Alzheimer's disease tested positive for antibodies in their plasma against a type of bacteria that is usually found in the mouth. The pioneering study supports a growing body of evidence that associates notable immune changes with a means of predicting and classifying Alzheimer's disease. Together with other immune markers linked to Alzheimer's disease, antibodies to these periodontal bacteria could serve to better understand the causes and mechanisms of the disease, the scientists say.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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