People Who Participate in Arts and Craft Activities and Who Socialize May Delay Development of Memory Problems

People Who Participate in Arts and Craft Activities and Who Socialize May Delay Development of Memory Problems

People who participate in arts and craft activities and who socialize in middle and old age may delay the development in very old age of the thinking and memory problems that often lead to dementia, according to a study published in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Study author Rosebud Roberts, MB, ChB, MS, of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and a member of the American Academy of Neurology said that “Our study supports the idea that engaging the mind may protect neurons, or the building blocks of the brain, from dying, stimulate growth of new neurons, or may help recruit new neurons to maintain cognitive activities in old age.”

The study involved 256 people with an average age of 87 who were free of memory and thinking problems at the start of the study. The participants reported their participation in arts, such as painting, drawing and sculpting; crafts, like woodworking, pottery ceramics, quilting, quilling and sewing; social activities, such as going to the theater, movies, concerts, socializing with friends, book clubs, Bible study and travel; and computer activities such as using the Internet, computer games, conducting web searches and online purchases.

After an average of four years, 121 people developed mild cognitive impairment. Participants who engaged in arts in both middle and old age were 73 percent less likely to develop MCI than those who did not report engaging in artistic activities. Those who crafted in middle and old age were 45 percent less likely to develop MCI and people who socialized in middle and old age were 55 percent less likely to develop MCI compared to those who did not engage in like activities. Computer use in later life was associated with a 53 percent reduced risk of MCI.

An Apple a Day Won’t Keep the Doctor Away but Maybe the Pharmacist

An Apple a Day Won’t Keep the Doctor Away but Maybe the Pharmacist

Turns out, an apple a day won’t keep the doctor away but it may mean you will use fewer prescription medications, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

The apple has come to symbolize health and healthy habits. But can apple consumption be associated with reduced health care use because patients who eat them might visit doctors less?

Matthew A. Davis, D.C., M.P.H., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan School of Nursing, Ann Arbor, and coauthors analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2007-2008 and 2009-2010) to find out.

The authors compared daily apple eaters (those who consumed at least 1 small apple per day or 149 grams of raw apple) with non-apple eaters. Of the 8,399 survey participants who completed a dietary recall questionnaire, 753 (9 percent) were apple eaters and 7,646 (91 percent) were non-apple eaters. Apple eaters had higher educational attainment, were more likely to be from a racial or ethnic minority, and were less likely to smoke. The authors measured “keeping the doctor away” as no more than one self-reported visit to a physician during the past year.

There was no statistically significant difference between apple eaters and non-apple eaters when it came to keeping the doctor away when sociodemographic and health-related characteristics were taken into account. However, apple eaters had marginally higher odds of avoiding prescription medications, according to the results. The authors found no difference between apple eaters and non-apple eaters when measuring the likelihood of avoiding an overnight hospital stay or a visit to a mental health professional.

Our findings suggest that the promotion of apple consumption may have limited benefit in reducing national health care spending. In the age of evidence-based assertions, however, there may be merit to saying ‘An apple a day keeps the pharmacist away,’” the study concludes.

New Tool May Help Predict Who Will Develop Memory Problems

New Tool May Help Predict Who Will Develop Memory Problems

Researchers have developed a new scoring system to help determine which elderly people may be at a higher risk of developing the memory and thinking problems that can lead to dementia, according to a study published in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Our goal is to identify memory issues at the earliest possible stages,” said study author Ronald C. Petersen, MD, PhD, of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Understanding what factors can help us predict who will develop this initial stage of memory and thinking problems, called mild cognitive impairment (MCI), is crucial, because people with MCI have an increased risk of developing dementia.”

The study involved 1,449 randomly selected people from Olmsted County, Minn., between the ages of 70 and 89 who did not have memory and thinking problems. At the start of the study and at visits every 15 months for an average of 4.8 years, participants were given memory and thinking tests. During the study, 401 people, or 28 percent, developed mild cognitive impairment.

The scoring system took into account factors that could be easily obtained from medical records, such as years of education, history of stroke or diabetes and smoking. Researchers also factored in information obtained at the clinic visit, such as a test of thinking abilities and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Factors were assigned a score based on how much they contributed to the risk of developing thinking problems. For example, being diagnosed with diabetes before age 75 increased the risk score by 14 points, while having 12 or fewer years of education increased the risk by two points.

When the women’s scores were divided into four groups, the lowest group had risk scores of less than 27 and the highest had scores of more than 46. For both men and women, those in the highest group of risk scores were seven times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those in the lowest group.

Age, heart health risk factors, depression and anxiety disorders, and memory or functional abilities at the start of the study contributed most to the risk score. The APOE gene, which has been linked to a higher risk of dementia, was determined in the study to be only a moderate risk factor.

“This risk scale may be an inexpensive and easy way for doctors to identify people who should undergo more advanced testing for memory issues or may be better candidates for clinical trials,” said Petersen.

Diet Soda Linked to Increases in Belly Fat in Older Adults – Curb Your Enthusiasm For It!

You’ll be a fat cat for sure if you keep drinking that diet soda!

Diet Soda Linked to Increases in Belly Fat in Older Adults

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that increasing diet soda intake is directly linked to greater abdominal obesity in adults 65 years of age and older. Thus contributes to a greater risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases.

Metabolic syndrome—a combination of risk factors that may lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke—is one of the results of the obesity epidemic. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.9 billion adults were overweight (body mass index [BMI] of 25 or more) in 2014. Of this group, 600 million people fell into the obese range (BMI of 30 or more)—a figure that has more than doubled since 1980.

In an effort to combat obesity, many adults try to reduce sugar intake by turning to artificial sweeteners and in the past 30 years, artificial sweeteners and diet soda intake have increased. Yet the prevalence of obesity has also seen a dramatic increase in the same time period.

“Our study seeks to fill the age gap by exploring the adverse health effects of diet soda intake in individuals 65 years of age and older,” explains lead author Sharon Fowler, MPH, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. “The burden of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, along with healthcare costs, is great in the ever-increasing senior population.”

The San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA) enrolled 749 Mexican- and European-Americans who were aged 65 and older at the start of the study (1992-96). Diet soda intake, waist circumference, height, and weight were measured at study onset, and at three follow-ups in 2000-01, 2001-03, and 2003-04, for a total of 9.4 follow-up years. At the first follow-up there were 474 (79.1%) surviving participants; there were 413 (73.4%) at the second follow-up and 375 (71.0%) at the third follow-up.

Findings indicate that the increase in waist circumference among diet soda drinkers, per follow-up interval, was almost triple that among non-users: This translates to waist circumference increases of 0.80 inches for non-users, 1.83 inches for occasional users, and 3.16 inches for daily users over the total 9.4-year SALSA follow-up period.

“The SALSA study shows that increasing diet soda intake was associated with escalating abdominal obesity, which may increase cardiometabolic risk in older adults,” Fowler concludes. The authors recommend that older individuals who drink diet soda daily, particularly those at high cardiometabolic risk, should try to curb their consumption of artificially sweetened drinks.

Vitamin D Supplementation Not Associated with Lower Blood Pressure

Vitamin D Supplementation Not Associated with Lower Blood Pressure

A review of clinical trial data suggests vitamin D supplementation was ineffective at lowering blood pressure (BP) and should not be used as an antihypertensive, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Intervention studies have produced conflicting evidence on the BP-lowering effect of vitamin D. An increasing number of clinical trials of have studied vitamin D and cardiovascular health, according to the study background.

Miles D. Witham, B.M., B.Ch., Ph.D., of the University of Dundee, Scotland, and coauthors analyzed clinical trial data and individual patient data with regard to vitamin D supplementation and BP. The authors included 46 trials (4,541 participants) and individual patient data were obtained for 27 trials (3,092 participants).

In both clinical trial and individual patient data, no effect was seen on systolic BP or diastolic BP due to vitamin D supplementation

I go to a fairly progressive physician and believe that he would support this idea. He did have me on a massive Vitamin D dose at one point because I was deficient in Vitamin D not because he was treating blood pressure.

Check with your physician.