Archive for June, 2010

Long Sleep Linked To Increased Health Risks In Older Adults

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Metabolic syndrome is a group of obesity-related risk factors that increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

A person with at least three of these five risk factors is considered to have metabolic syndrome: excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance which tracks health conditions impacting the aging American public.

According to a research abstract presented at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies participants who reported a habitual daily sleep duration of eight hours or more including naps were 15 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome. 

This relationship remained unchanged after full adjustment for potential confounders such as demographics, lifestyle and sleep habits, and metabolic markers. Removing participants with potential ill health from the analysis slightly attenuated the observed association. Although participants who reported a short sleep duration of less than six hours were 14 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome in the initial analysis, this association disappeared after controlling for potential confounders.

Researchers noted that the most surprising aspect of the study was that long sleep – and not short sleep – was related to the presence of the metabolic syndrom.

The study involved over 29,000 adults, making it the largest study to assess the relationship between sleep duration and the presence of metabolic syndrome. Participants were 50 years of age or older. Total sleep duration was reported by questionnaire.

We can recommend that long sleepers reduce the amount of overall sleep they achieve, which may in turn have beneficial effects on their health one medical expert noted. Programs can be developed to modify sleep in an attempt to reduce the health burden on elderly populations, who are already at higher risk of disease.

Researchers Find Cause Of Cognitive Decline In Seniors

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Researchers have found that certain types of specializations on nerve cells called “spines” are depleted as a person ages, causing cognitive decline in the part of the brain that mediates the highest levels of learning. 

According to scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, these spines receive an important class of synapses that are involved with the process of learning. The discovery provides the medical community with a new therapeutic target to help prevent this loss of function.

“Millions of aging seniors suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” explains Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.  These conditions account for the longest and most costly causes for long term health care.

When a person ages they lose certain spines the researchers noted.  We did not know which ones and how their loss impacted cognition.  The new study shows which spines are lost and what their impact is on brain function, giving us a foundation to research treatment interventions to protect against age-related cognitive decline.

The research team studied six young adult and nine older rhesus monkeys as they participated in a delayed response test. The monkeys watched as food was baited and hidden, and then a screen was put in front of them so they could no longer see the location of the hidden reward.

At the beginning of the test, the screen was raised immediately and the monkeys were able to find the food reward right away. The subject’s memory was tested by increasing the time that the reward was blocked from view to test if the monkeys retained where the reward was placed over longer intervals of time. Aged monkeys performed significantly worse on the tests than young monkeys, especially as the time intervals increased.

The researchers determined that the older monkeys lacked the thin spines but retained the larger spines, indicating that the loss of the thin spines may be responsible for the monkeys’ inability to learn and retain information during the test. For the first time, the researchers determined that the large spines were stable, which provides a synaptic basis for the observation that expertise and skills learned early in life are often maintained into old age. 

The study is published in the June 2 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

For no obligation, free quotes for long-term health care protection and to find the lowest cost LTC insurance, visit the AALTCI website’s Consumer Information Center.

Location Determines Heart Attack Survival

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Researchers found that people who suffer from cardiac arrest in some neighborhoods of Fulton County in Georgia — which is home to the city of Atlanta — are up to three times more likely to die than in other neighborhoods. They’re also less likely to have bystanders perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on them.

The neighborhoods with the highest cardiac arrest death rates tended to be poorer and less educated, with more black residents, the study authors noted in their report in the June issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance nearly 800,000 Americans will have a first heart attack in 2010 and some 470,000 will have a recurrent attack.

The findings have national public health indications experts explain. They show that it is time to change our thinking on how and where we conduct CPR training if we are ever going to change the dismal rate of survival from cardiac arrest,” the study author said.

The researchers at the University of Michigan estimated that 15 lives could be saved in Fulton County each year if the neighborhoods with the lowest rates of CPR had the same rates as those neighborhoods with the highest.

To improve cardiac survival rates that have been stagnant for 30 years, CPR training should be more basic and available to the people who are most likely to witness someone experiencing cardiac arrest, they note.  Health care resources are extremely limited. To make improvements, we need to understand where and how best to make change.