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August 20, 2007, 9:42 PM CT

Women lose weight before developing dementia

Women lose weight before developing dementia
Women who have dementia start losing weight at least 10 years before the disease is diagnosed, as per a research studyreported in the August 21, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The scientists examined the records of 481 people with dementia and compared them to 481 people of the same age and gender who did not have dementia. The average weight was the same for those in the two groups from 21 to 30 years before the year the disease was diagnosed. But the women who would later develop dementia started losing weight up to 20 years before the disease was diagnosed. On average, those with dementia weighed 12 pounds less than those without the disease the year the disease was diagnosed.

One explanation for the weight loss is that, in the very early stages of dementia, people develop apathy, a loss of initiative, and also losses in the sense of smell, said study author David Knopman, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and member of the American Academy of Neurology. When you cant smell your food, it wont have much taste, and you might be less inclined to eat it. And, apathy and loss of initiative may make women less likely to prepare nutritious meals and more likely to skip meals altogether.

Unlike women, men in this study who later developed dementia did not lose weight in the years before diagnosis. Knopman said the difference could be due to hormones, but a social reason seems just as likely.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 20, 2007, 9:34 PM CT

High alcohol consumption increases stroke risk

High alcohol consumption increases stroke risk
In a study likely applicable to men of other ethnicities, Tulane University scientists observed that heavy drinking (more than 21 drinks per week) may increase the risk of stroke in Chinese men. The results of the study are reported in the latest issue of Annals of Neurology.

Scientists led by Lydia Bazzano of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine recently examined the relationship between alcohol consumption and stroke in a large nationally representative sample of Chinese men. In China, stroke is the leading cause of death for men, killing more than 20 percent of the male population. It is also the top reason for long-term disability. Alcohol use in China has increased in recent years alongside the countrys economic development.

The research team conducted a study of 64,338 men who participated in the 1991 China National High blood pressure Survey. At the start of the survey all of the men were over 40 years old and free of stroke. They provided information about their demographic characteristics, medical history and lifestyle risk factors, including alcohol consumption.

Between 1999 and 2000 the scientists followed up with the participants, determined all incidents of stroke and assessed any relationship between alcohol consumption and stroke.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 8, 2007, 9:25 PM CT

Studying Brain Blood Flow to Treat Depression

Studying Brain Blood Flow to Treat Depression
The usefulness of established molecular imaging/nuclear medicine approaches in identifying the "hows" and "whys" of brain dysfunction and its potential in providing immediately useful information in treating depression are emphasized in a study in the August Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

"Individuals in a depressed emotional state have impaired cerebral (brain) blood flow," explained Omer Bonne, head of inpatient psychiatry and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. "Clinical improvement in depression is accompanied by diverse changes in cerebral blood flow, as per whether patients are treated with medicine or electroconvulsive therapy," he noted. "We observed that antidepressant medicines normalized decreased brain blood flow commonly seen in patients with depression, while electroconvulsive therapy was linked to additional decreases in blood flow," he reported. "Currently, clinical psychiatry is based almost solely on subjective observer-based judgment. Our findings suggest that objective imaging evaluations could support subjective clinical decisions," he said.

Using SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography)-a molecular imaging/nuclear medicine procedure in which injected radiotracers are utilized to produce three-dimensional, computer-reconstructed images that reveal information about both structure and function-researchers confirmed already published findings that cerebral blood flow in depressed patients is lower than in healthy control subjects, particularly in frontal, limbic and subcortical brain regions. "We wanted to see whether improvement in clinical depression is accompanied by changes-increases-in cerebral blood flow," he said. "We observed that cerebral blood flow increased only in patients whose depression improved. In contrast, cerebral blood flow remained unchanged in patients whose depressed condition persisted," detailed Bonne.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 7, 2007, 10:52 PM CT

Miniature implanted devices could treat epilepsy, glaucoma

Miniature implanted devices could treat epilepsy, glaucoma
Pedro Irazoqui
developed new miniature devices designed to be implanted in the brain to predict and prevent epileptic seizures and a nanotech sensor for implantation in the eye to treat glaucoma.

Findings will be detailed in three research papers being presented at the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society's Sciences and Technologies for Health conference from Aug. 23-26 in Lyon, France.

One research project focuses on a tiny transmitter three times the width of a human hair to be implanted below the scalp to detect the signs of an epileptic seizure before it occurs. The system will record neural signals relayed by electrodes in various points in the brain, said Pedro Irazoqui (pronounced Ear-a-THOkee), an assistant professor of biomedical engineering.

"When epileptics have a seizure, a particular part of the brain starts firing in a way that is abnormal," Irazoqui said. "Being able to record signals from several parts of the brain at the same time enables you to predict when a seizure is about to start, and then you can take steps to prevent it".

Data from the implanted transmitter will be picked up by an external receiver, also being developed by the Purdue researchers.

The most critical aspect of the research is creating a device that transmits a large amount of data at low power. The transmitter consumes 8.8 milliwatts, or about one-third as much power as other implantable transmitters while transmitting 10 times more data. Another key advantage is that the transmitter has the capacity to collect data specifically correlation to epileptic seizures from 1,000 channels, or locations in the brain, Irazoqui said.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


August 7, 2007, 10:26 PM CT

Maturity brings richer memories

Maturity brings richer memories
Memory formation in children, adolescents and young adults: Brain activation in the medial temporal lobe (lower brain scans) remains constant while activation in the prefrontal cortex (upper brain scans) increases from childhood to adulthood when successfully memorizing pictures with rich detail. Image courtesy / Julian Wong, independent artist, and Noa Ofen, McGovern Institute.
MIT neuroresearchers exploring how memory formation differs between children and adults have observed that eventhough the two groups have much in common, maturity brings richer memories.

In the August 5 advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience, the MIT team reports that children rival adults in forming basic memories, but adults do better at remembering the rich, contextual details of that information. The MIT study provides new insights into how children learn that are not only theoretically important, but could also inform practical learning in everyday settings.

The ability to remember factual information - who, what, where, when - emerges gradually during childhood, and plays a critical role in education. The brain systems underlying it have been extensively studied in adults, but until now little was known about how they mature during child development.

The MIT study indicates that a more developed prefrontal cortex (PFC) - an area of the brain long linked to higher-order thinking, planning, and reasoning -- may be responsible for creating richer memories in adults.

"Activation in the PFC follows an upward slope with age in contextual memories. The older the subjects, the more powerful the activation in that area," explains senior author John Gabrieli of MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 3, 2007, 10:17 PM CT

Cognitive impairment with H2 Blockers

Cognitive impairment with H2 Blockers
Long-term use of histamine2 receptor antagonists (H2A), one class of drugs that blocks stomach acid, may be linked to cognitive impairment in older African-American adults. As per an Indiana University School of Medicine and Regenstrief Institute study reported in the recent issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the risk for showing signs of cognitive impairment is 2.5 times greater for patients using these medications long-term.

These acid blockers, including ranitidine and famotidine, are among the most popular medications prescribed in the United States. More than 16 million prescriptions were dispensed in 2005 and several of these medications are also available over-the-counter. The drugs are sold under brand names such as Axid, Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac, and are used to treat ulcers, acid reflux and other gastrointestinal disorders.

The five-year observational study included 1,558 cognitively normal African-Americans aged 65 and older. After controlling for other possible factors, nearly 18 percent of H2A users studied exhibited signs of cognitive impairment.

Taking these medications continuously appears to put older African-Americans at greater risk for the development of cognitive impairment, said Malaz Boustani, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine and a Regenstrief research scientist. Dr. Boustani is lead author of the study. We need to study this further to determine how acid blockers might be causing or creating this effect and if it occurs only in African-Americans.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


August 3, 2007, 5:12 AM CT

Screening for stroke risk factors

Screening for stroke risk factors
Actively screening people aged 65 or over in the community improves the detection of atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm), a major risk factor for stroke, finds a study published on bmj.com today.

The prevalence of atrial fibrillation rises with age, from about 1% in the whole population to about 5% in people aged over 65. It can be diagnosed using a simple low cost test (electrocardiography) and the risk of serious problems, such as stroke, can be dramatically reduced by therapy.

There are two types of screening for atrial fibrillation opportunistic and systematic (or total population) screening. In opportunistic screening, a healthcare professional would take a patients pulse during a consultation and, if the pulse was irregular, electrocardiography would be performed to confirm the diagnosis. In systematic screening, the whole target population would be invited for screening by electrocardiography.

So scientists set out to test whether screening was more effective than routine care in detecting atrial fibrillation in the community, and compared opportunistic with total population screening.

They identified 14,802 patients aged 65 or over from 50 general practices in England (split into 25 intervention and 25 control practices).........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 30, 2007, 10:13 PM CT

Drug improves symptoms of severe Alzheimer's disease

Drug improves symptoms of severe Alzheimer's disease
A drug initially used to treat mild to moderate Alzheimers disease improved the memory and global function of people with severe Alzheimers disease and was safe and effective, as per a research studyreported in the July 31, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The six-month study involved 343 people with severe Alzheimers disease at clinics in the United States, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Half of the group received a daily dose of donepezil; the other half received placebo. Cognitive tests were performed throughout the study.

The study found cognitive function stabilized or improved in 63 percent of people taking donepezil in comparison to 39 percent of people taking placebo. In comparison to the placebo group, those taking donepezil showed improvement in memory, language, attention, and recognizing ones name. The donepezil group also showed less of a decline in social interaction, skills needed to complete a jigsaw puzzle, and arranging sentences in comparison to the placebo group.

The effectiveness of donepezil in preserving cognitive and global function in people with severe Alzheimers disease, as evidenced by this study and others, is encouraging, said study author Sandra Black, MD, Brill Professor of Neurology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto in Canada, and member of the American Academy of Neurology.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 30, 2007, 8:21 PM CT

Increased White Matter And Poor Motor Skills In Children With Autism

Increased White Matter And Poor Motor Skills In Children With Autism
A study reported in the recent issue of the journal Brain demonstrates, for the first time, an association between increased white matter volume and functional impairment in children with autism. Findings from scientists at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Md. reveal that in children with autism, increased white matter volume in the motor region of the brain predicts poorer motor skills. On the other hand, in typically developing children, increased white matter volume predicts improved motor skills, with a similar association observed in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The relationship between increased white matter volume and functional impairment, which appears to be specific to autism, may be representative of global patterns of brain abnormality in autism that not only contribute to motor dysfunction, but also to deficits in socialization and communication that define the disorder.

Children with autism are typically motorically clumsy and awkward, similar to how they are socially clumsy and awkward. They often experience difficulties with basic motor control and with learning more complex motor skills, such as riding a tricycle, pumping their legs on a swing or buttoning, zipping and tying shoe laces. Additionally, high-functioning children with autism often excel in academic areas, such as math, as opposed to athletic activities, such as baseball. Because measures of motor function are highly quantifiable and reproducible, they are much easier to study than measures of social and communication behavior. Motor signs can serve as markers for deficits in parallel brain systems important for control of socialization and communication.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 29, 2007, 9:55 PM CT

New Genetic Risk Factors For Multiple Sclerosis

New Genetic Risk Factors For Multiple Sclerosis
A pair of large-scale genetic studies supported by the National Institutes of Health has revealed two genes that influence the risk of getting multiple sclerosis (MS) data sought since the discovery of the only other known MS susceptibility gene decades ago. The findings could shed new light on what causes MS a puzzling mix of genes, environment and immunity and on potential therapys for at least 350,000 Americans who have the disease.

"These studies describe the first genes conclusively associated with MS in more than 20 years," said Ursula Utz, Ph.D., a program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a part of NIH. This breakthrough was made possible through persistence, an elegant search strategy, and genomic data and techniques that were not available until recently.

Both studies involved scanning DNA samples from more than 20,000 MS patients and unaffected individuals in the U.S. and Europe, and looking for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which are single-letter variations in a gene's DNA code. Published simultaneously today in the New England Journal (NEJM) and Nature Genetics, the studies demonstrate an association between MS and SNPs in two genes that encode interleukin receptors, proteins that serve as antennae on the surface of immune cells.........

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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