New Diet Could Help MS Patients

June 30th, 2021

Apple sitting next to small weightsA diet designed to boost brain health appears to benefit people with multiple sclerosis (MS), new research suggests.


A study team examined 185 people diagnosed with MS within the past five years. Each had MRI brain scans and responded to detailed questionnaires.

Those who ate more of the “good” foods from a brain health eating regimen known as the MIND diet and fewer “bad” ones tended to have more preserved tissue in a critical relay station in the brain called the thalamus.

MIND is short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet is designed to benefit brain health.  The MIND diet combines aspects of the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. 

Food considered “good” include leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, and fish. Those considered “bad” include fried foods, butter, cheese, red and processed meats, and sweets.

The study also found a link between eating more full-fat dairy products and fewer MS brain lesions. Eating omega-3 fatty acids from fish also had brain benefits.

The study was published in the journal “MS and Related Disorders.”

MS Signs and Symptoms

MS symptoms are variable and unpredictable. No two people have exactly the same symptoms, and each person’s symptoms can change or fluctuate over time:

  • Cognitive changes: Including the ability to process incoming information, learn and remember new information, organize and problem solve, focus attention, and accurately perceive the environment.
  • Depression
  • Dysesthesia: A squeezing sensation around the torso that feels like a blood pressure cuff when it tightens. 
  • Emotional changes: Anxiety, mood swings, irritability, and episodes of uncontrollable laughing and crying
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling: Numbness of the face, body, arms, and legs is often the first symptom experienced.
  • Pain and itching
  • Spasticity: Stiffness and a wide range of involuntary muscle spasms.
  • Vertigo and dizziness: People with MS may feel off balance or light headed.
  • Vision problems: Blurred vision, poor contrast or color vision and pain on eye movement.
  • Walking difficulties: Related to several factors, including, weakness, spasticity, loss of balance, sensory deficit, and fatigue. These can be helped by physical therapy, assistive therapy and medication.
  • Weakness: Results from the deconditioning of unused muscles or damage to nerves that stimulate muscles.

About 1 million Americans have MS. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.

What IAA has to Say

It is still early to tell if this new diet can make a significant impact. It is however a step in the right direction. Insurance Administrator of America is here to bring you updates on the world of health.Just think of IAA as your third party health monitor, here to keep you in the know!

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here!

Laughing Gas may Help With Hard- to- Treat Depression

June 23rd, 2021

Nitrous oxide chemical symbol N2OWhen antidepressants fail to help hard-to-treat depression, the anesthetic known as “laughing gas,” might be a safe and effective alternative, new research suggests.

Laughing Gas as an Alternative Treatment

The findings follow work with 28 patients with “treatment-resistant depression”. This is a severe condition that investigators say affects one-third of all patients (an estimated 17 million American adults) who develop major depressive disorder.

For patients with treatment-resistant depression, antidepressants often fail to provide relief. But following three one hour laughing gas inhalation sessions spread across three months, 85 percent of patients had significant depression relief that endured weeks post-treatment.

Between 2016 and 2019, the team tried out two laughing gas formulations; one at a level of 50 percent nitrous oxide and one at a level of 25 percent.  

About one-third were exposed to three sessions of 50 percent nitrous oxide inhalation treatment; one-third were given a 25 percent nitrous oxide inhalation treatment and one-third were given an oxygen inhalation treatment that contained no laughing gas.

Patients were between the ages of 18 and 75. All were told to continue with their usual depression care and maintain their existing antidepressant regimen.

Treatment was delivered via a standard anesthesia facemask and all were monitored for up to one hour post-treatment.

The investigators found that both formulations offered significant depression control. In fact, just a single session—at either dosage—provided “rapid” depression control among patients, the team noted.

At the three month mark, the team found that 85 percent of patients had symptom improvement and 40 percent were found to be in depression remission.

The team also found that using a lower concentration of nitrous also helped to lower the risk of side effects including nausea, sedation and or “mild dissociation” a kind of daydreaming experience.

The report was published in “Science Translational Medicine”.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest.

During depressive episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include:

  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration even over small matters
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Although depression may occur once during your life, people typically have multiple episodes.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America is here to bring you updates on the world of health.Just think of IAA as your third party health monitor, here to keep you in the know!

Interested in reading more on this topic? Click here.

New Form of ALS Discovered in Children

June 16th, 2021

Children on the playgroundA new form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that affects children has been discovered by a team of researchers.

ALS in Children

Researchers used advanced genetic techniques to identify 11 such cases in children who had mysterious neurological disorders.

Most ALS cases are diagnosed in people between the ages of 50 and 60, and it progresses so rapidly that patients typically die within three to five years.

This newly identified form of ALS begins in childhood, progresses more slowly and is linked to a gene called SPTLC1, which is part of the body’s fat production system.

Initial ALS symptoms in the ill children appeared at about age four. By the end of the study, they had lived from five to 20 years longer. Results show that ALS can be caused by changes in the way the body metabolizes lipids.

Preliminary results suggest that genetically silencing SPTLC1 activity may combat this type of ALS, according to the authors of the study.

The study was published in the journal “Nature Medicine.” 

What is ALS?

ALS is a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control.

ALS doesn’t affect all muscles and organs in the body. The heart and bladder for instance, usually stay healthy.

Signs and symptoms of ALS vary greatly from person to person depending on which neurons are affected. Signs and symptoms might include:

  • A hard time holding your head up
  • Cognitive or behavioral changes
  • Difficulty walking or doing normal daily activities
  • Hand weakness or clumsiness
  • Inappropriate crying, laughing or yawning
  • Muscle cramps and twitching in your arms, shoulders and tongue
  • Slurred speech or trouble swallowing
  • Tripping and falling
  • Weakness in your leg, feet or ankles

ALS often starts in the hands, feet or limbs, and then spreads to other parts of your body. As the disease advances and nerve cells are destroyed, your muscles get weaker.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be kept up to date in the world of health.  Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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New Therapy Could Help Lupus Symptoms

June 9th, 2021

Lupus AwarenessAn experimental antibody therapy may help ease skin symptoms from lupus, a small preliminary trial suggests.

Experimental Treatment Could Help Skin Symptoms

The drug currently known as VIB7734 is a monoclonal antibody—a lab made protein that acts like an immune system antibody. Such antibodies can be directed against specific substances in the body that are involved in a disease process.

The new monoclonal antibody works by depleting immune system cells called plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Those cells normally fight infection by releasing inflammatory chemicals, including type 1 interferons. But uncontrolled activity in the cells, pumping out too much interferon, is thought to contribute to autoimmune diseases.  

Unlike therapies that take broad aim on the immune system, monoclonal antibodies target specific components of the immune response. This means they may have fewer side effects and be more effective.

For the phase 1 trial (a type of study designed primarily to gauge a treatment’s safety), the research team recruited 31 patients with at least one of several autoimmune conditions, including systemic and cutaneous lupus. They were randomly assigned to receive injections of either the monoclonal antibody, at various doses, or a placebo. The injections were given every four weeks, for a total of three.

After one month the group on the highest antibody dose showed the biggest benefit; seven of eight (87.5 percent) had a “clinically meaningful” reduction in skin symptoms, compared to about 37 percent of patients on a lower dose, and 28 percent of placebo patients.  

Larger trials are needed to confirm the therapy works.

The findings were published May 27 in the journal “Science Translation Medicine.”

What is Lupus?

Lupus is caused by an autoimmune reaction, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissue.

The most common form is systemic lupus, which can spur inflammation throughout the body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, blood vessels, and brain.

Another form called cutaneous lupus, affects only the skin, causing rashes and sores often on the face and scalp.  

Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms often mimic those of other ailments.  No two cases are exactly alike. Signs and symptoms may come on suddenly or develop slowly, may be mild or severe and may be temporary or permanent.  The signs and symptoms of lupus will depend on which body symptoms are affected by the disease. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose or rashes elsewhere on the body
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods
  • Headaches, confusion and memory loss
  • Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun expose

In the United States about 1.5 million people have lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.

What IAA has to Say

The world of science keeps surprising us! Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be up to date on the new scientific research that is going on. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Stair Climbing is Good Alternative Workout for Cardiac Patients

June 2nd, 2021

StaircaseTwo new studies show that climbing the stairs is a good workout alternative to the gym for heart patients.

Stair Climbing as Gym Alternative

Researchers noted that less than a quarter of heart patients stick to exercise regimens and that common reasons for not doing so include lack of time, equipment and access to gyms.

Researchers randomly assigned coronary artery disease patients who had a cardiac procedure to either traditional moderate-intensity exercise or vigorous stair climbing.

The stair climbing involved three rounds of six flights of 12 stairs, separated by recovery periods of walking. The participants chose their own stepping pace. Research showed that stair climbing is a safe, efficient and feasible option for cardiac rehabilitation. 

Both groups of patients had improved heart-lung fitness after four weeks of supervised training and maintained those levels for another eight weeks of unsupervised training. They also had substantial muscular improvement, according to the studies.

The findings show that heart patients can still repair and build lost muscle.

The studies were published in the journals “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise” and “Frontiers.”

Physical Activity and Your Body

There are many benefits to being physically active. Being active will:

  • Boost your mood and self-esteem
  • Burn off stress
  • Help you reach and keep a healthy weight
  • Help you sleep better
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Strengthen your heart

The American Heart Association recommends you work up to exercising most days of the week. The more exercise you do, the healthier you and your heart will be. But any amount helps your health.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to keep your heart in top shape! A healthy heart helps lead to a healthy life. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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