Exercise, Brain And Heart

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Not only is exercise good for dealing with depression, but — as many of us would testify — it boosts happiness and contentment, as shown by a recent large scale review of exercise-related studies. The review combined 23 mostly observational studies published since 1980, combined involving over 500,000 people, of all ages and a wide range of socioeconomic and ethnic groups, and studied the relationship between their exercise and the their positive feelings (i.e., happiness).

Here are two media articles on the review:
Get moving to get happier, study finds
Even a Little Exercise Might Make Us Happier
Here is the research review:
A Systematic Review of the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Happiness

And there’s more. It’s likely that exercise can help middle-aged people reduce their risk of heart disease:
Middle-aged can reverse heart risk with exercise, study suggests

And exercise helps deal with chronic stress, even including the stress of advanced Alzheimer’s. Here are several media articles and research reports on the effect.

How Strenuous Exercise Affects Our Immune System
Meet the man living with Alzheimer’s who climbs the same mountain every day
Aerobic exercise for Alzheimer’s disease: A randomized controlled pilot trial

Running exercise mitigates the negative consequences of chronic stress on dorsal hippocampal long-term potentiation in male mice.

All links have been added to Health > Physical Exercise

Category: Physical Exercise

Living longer is in your hands

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Here is an excellent article, from one of the best online medical correspondents, summarizing the best ways to strongly improve the likelihood of living longer, and living well:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Forget science (for now); living longer is in your hands

This link has been added to Aging.

Category: Aging

Herpes & Alzheimer’s — More

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Earlier this month, we described a study demonstrating a link between the presence of certain herpes viruses in the brain, and the presence of Alzheimer’s signs. Interestingly, three more studies of this connection have appeared. All three confirm this connection, but the third in addition suggests that aggressive treatment with herpes anti-viral medication can significantly reduce the chance of encountering dementia. However, the study did not attempt to deal with people who had already encountered dementia.

Here are two media articles:
Herpes linked to Alzheimer’s: Antivirals may help
Alzheimer’s risk 10 times lower with herpes medication

Here is an interesting scientific commentary by two researchers active in the area (referenced in both media articles linked above):
Herpes Viruses and Senile Dementia: First Population Evidence for a Causal Link

Here are links to the first two research studies
Increased risk of dementia following herpes zoster ophthalmicus
Epidemiology and long-term disease burden of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia in Taiwan: a population-based, propensity score-matched cohort study

Here is the abstract of the third research article which provides information that “The usage of anti-herpetic medications in the treatment of HSV infections was associated with a decreased risk of dementia”:
Anti-herpetic Medications and Reduced Risk of Dementia in Patients with Herpes Simplex Virus Infections-a Nationwide, Population-Based Cohort Study in Taiwan.

All links have been added to Alzheimer’s > Risk Factors and Alzheimer’s > Neurology & Neuroplasticity

High Blood Pressure In Older People Raises Alzheimer’s Risk

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High blood pressure is known to lead to heart attack/failure, stroke, and kidney disease or failure, among other bad consequences. Now, a recently reported study shows that high blood pressure appears to be linked to higher risk of (silent)infarcts (brain lesions/dead brain tissue) and a higher number of Alzheimer’s tangles (but not plaques — yet), and overall, a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. The study group consisted of nearly 1,300 individuals — 2/3 of whom had high blood pressure — followed for an average of 8 years before their deaths, after which their brains were autopsied to determine the effects of the high blood pressure. Yet another reason to attempt to manage hypertension.

Links to media articles about the work:
Blood pressure linked to lesions, signs of Alzheimer’s in autopsied brains
High blood pressure may increase dementia risk
High blood pressure threatens the aging brain, study finds
Late-Life BP Tied to Brain Infarcts, Tangles
Here is a link to the research article:
Late-life blood pressure association with cerebrovascular and Alzheimer disease pathology

All links have been added to Alzheimer’s > Risk Factors

Herpes & Alzheimer’s

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For many years, theories have been proposed concerning the possible involvement of viruses with Alzheimer’s disease, but they have been seen as controversial. New research, based on examination of brain tissue from 1,000 deceased Alzheimer’s sufferers, has strengthened the case for some sort of link. The examination of those brains showed a much higher incidence of two strains of herpes virus than in the brains of deceased healthy controls. These two strains of herpes are extremely common, and typically begin life-long residence in the body and brain during childhood.

However, all scientists involved stress that it is unknown at present whether the presence of these viruses acts as triggers for Alzheimer’s, or whether the presence is a side-effect of Alzheimer’s.

Media articles on the work:
Researchers Find Herpes Viruses In Brains Marked By Alzheimer’s Disease
A Common Virus May Play Role in Alzheimer’s Disease, Study Finds
Childhood viruses linked to Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s link to herpes virus in brain, say scientists
The research article:
Multiscale Analysis of Independent Alzheimer’s Cohorts Finds Disruption of Molecular, Genetic, and Clinical Networks by Human Herpesvirus

All links have been added to Alzheimer’s > Neurology & Neuroplasticity

Diabetes, Obesity, & The Brain

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There is very substantial evidence that Type 2 Diabetes significantly raises the odds that one will develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Here are some presentations:

Connections Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease
Diabetes and Alzheimer’s linked
Alzheimer’s Disease & Diabetes
How Diabetes Affects Your Brain

There is also strong evidence that being overweight or obese raises the odds that one will develop Type 2 diabetes. Here are some articles:

How Obesity Increases The Risk For Diabetes
Adult obesity and type 2 diabetes
Diabetes and Obesity

Just being overweight, without diabetes, can still have effects on the brain:
Brains of overweight people look ten years older than those of lean peers

And being overweight together with having diabetes further affects your brain:
Diabetes, weight can combine to alter brain, study says

All the links above have been added to Alzheimer’s > Risk Factors.

Category: Risk Factors

Advance Directive for Dementia

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Advance Care Directives concerning general medical care are recognized throughout all the states (for example, see the American Bar Associations list Links to State-Specific Advance Directive Forms). More recently, advance care directives specifically aimed at dementia have begun to appear. The point of advance directives is to have a plan in place and to have discussed your wishes with family, potential caregivers, and your doctors — while you are still capable.

A fairly simple straight-forward dementia-oriented directive has been developed by a Washington state internist, and is available as a pdf download at Health Directive for Dementia. The directive was documented by an essay in the JAMA at Advance Directives for Dementia – Meeting a Unique Challenge. Both of these links are available at ADVANCE DIRECTIVE FOR DEMENTIA. A media article about this work appeared at One Day Your Mind May Fade. At Least You’ll Have a Plan.

A more extensive dementia-oriented directive, with detailed directions, can be found at Alzheimers Disease and Dementia Advance Directive , with a general introduction at Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Mental Health Advance Directive. This directive apparently has legal weight in Washington state. It is not clear whether Advance Directives for Dementia have yet gained legal weight in other states.

Whatever the legal status of these Advance Directives for Dementia, it is important for anyone at any risk for dementia to engage in discussions of advance care with family, friends, and doctors, and to make their wishes known while they are able.

All the links above have been added to the top of Alzheimer’s > Coping & Caregivers and to the top of Alzheimer’s > General & Resources

Various Risk Factors

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In this post we’ve grouped articles and reports on several (independent) risk factors that have been reported in the past several years.

The first is the effects of the brain-dwelling parasite Toxoplasma gondii, often transmitted to humans by contact with cat feces.
Media article:
http://www.sciencealert.com/mind-altering-parasite-transmitted-by-cats-linked-to-several-brain-disorders
Research report:
Toxoplasma Modulates Signature Pathways of Human Epilepsy, Neurodegeneration & Cancer

Next is a study of how hearing loss could portend a greater risk for dementia later in life.
Media article:
Hearing loss could pose greater risk of potential dementia in later life – study
Research report:
SELF-REPORTED HEARING LOSS, COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE, AND RISK OF MCI: FINDINGS FROM THE WISCONSIN REGISTRY FOR ALZHEIMER’S PREVENTION

Next is a study on how, contrary to being purely negative (and presumably a primary sign of Alzheimer’s), the accumulation of amyloid beta may in fact be a response to the presence of infection.
Media articles:
Antimicrobial Mechanism Gone Rogue May Play Role in Alzheimer’s Disease
Human amyloid-beta acts as natural antibiotic in the brain: Alzheimer’s-associated amyloid plaques may trap microbes
Research abstract:
Amyloid-β peptide protects against microbial infection in mouse and worm models of Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally is a study of the interaction of certain heart treatments and the possible increase in potential for dementia.
Media article:
Warfarin, AF May Each Contribute to Dementia Risk in Atrial Fibrillation
Medical media article:
Among warfarin users, patients with AF at increased risk for dementia

All links have been added to Alzheimer’s > Risk Factors

Category: Announcements

Added Sugar: Again The Bad Guy — It Can Kill

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Sugar is definitely not too good for your health. We’ve collected a number of media articles about the bad effects of added sugar in our diets. The articles contain references to the original research publications.

Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease
Sweet Stuff: How Sugars and Sweeteners Affect Your Health
How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Your Body?
More Proof Sugar Can Kill
Is Sugar Really Bad for You? It Depends

All the links have been added to Health > Diet

Category: Diet

Exercise: Again & Again, Like Notorious RGB

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Boring? Sometimes. Worthwhile? Sure. Benefits while aging? Can be fantastic.

One of the sad and unpleasant effects of aging for a great many people is the gradual loss of muscle mass. But apparently it doesn’t have to be that way. Two studies of master athletes in their 60s and 80s show that such athletes preserve a greater number of “motor units” in their legs: pairs of muscle fibers together with neurons connecting them to the spinal cord. With age, there is a tendency for the neurons to die. In younger people, new neurons are generated to replace the ones that die. However, in older people, they are not replaced, leading to the death of the originally attached muscle fiber. Two studies of older master athletes show that serious exercise can resist this scenario.

Here are links to two media articles about the research on both 60- and 80-year old master athletes:
Can the inevitable age-related decrement in motor unit number and stability be out run?
Exercise Makes Our Muscles Work Better With Age
Here is a link to the research based on 60-year-olds:
Motor unit number estimates in masters runners: use it or lose it?
And here is a link to the research based on 80-year olds:
Motor unit number and transmission stability in octogenarian world class athletes

So — master-level athletes can maintain muscle mass. But, you say, they must spend an awful lot of time at it. Well sure, as the saying goes: No pain, no gain, including the pain of time spent. But what if you’ve gotten into middle or advanced age masquerading as a couch potato? Is it all over for you? Fortunately, not.

A recent media article describes how intense strength training, combined with good nutrition, can hold the line or even reverse it:
How to build muscle as age tears it down

Here’s the research report mentioned in the article above about counteracting muscle weakness and physical frailty in very elderly people by using high-intensity resistance exercise training:
Exercise Training and Nutritional Supplementation for Physical Frailty in Very Elderly People

And now for the inspiration! Ruth Bader Ginsburg (the notorious RGB) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, is 85 years old, and works out twice-weekly in the Supreme Court gym with her personal trainer. “She attributes her long career as a liberal legal icon to the sweat time she puts in with her trainer.” Her trainer has written an “exercise along with RGB” book:
The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong . . . and You Can Too!

Here’s a media article about the book:
Get fit with the Ruth Bader Ginsburg workout

And just for fun, here’s a video of Stephen Colbert trying to workout out with the notorious RGB:
Colbert attempts Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s workout

All links have been added to Health > Physical Exercise