New Research Shows Link Between Perivascular Spaces in the Brain and Dementia

February 10th, 2021

BrainEnlarged spaces in the brain that fill with fluid around small blood vessels may be a warning of impending dementia, a new Australian study suggests.

Perivascular Spaces and Dementia

Everyone has perivascular spaces. Typically, these spaces help clear waste and toxins from the brain. They are natural, but when a large amount of these extra spaces start to develop, researchers begin to suspect there is more going on.

Diluted perivascular spaces should be taken seriously and assessing their severity may be able to help clinicians and researchers better diagnose dementia and help predict the trajectory of people with cognitive decline.

For the study, the researchers tested more than 400 people, with the average age being 80. Participants were given tests of thinking and memory skills and assessed for dementia at the beginning of the study and every two years for eight years.

Participants had MRI brain scans to look for enlarged perivascular spaces in two key areas of the brain at the start of the study and every two years for eight years.

The researchers compared the top 25 percent of those who had the largest number of enlarged perivascular spaces with those with fewer or no enlarged spaces. They found that those with the most enlarged perivascular spaces were nearly three times more likely to develop dementia than those with fewer or no enlarged spaces.

In all, 97 participants developed dementia during the study. Of the 31 people with enlarged perivascular spaces in both areas of the brain that the researchers looked at, 39 percent developed dementia.

The people with severe enlargement of perivascular spaces in both areas of the brain were also more likely to have greater decline four years later on their overall scores of cognition than people with mild or no enlargement of spaces.

The results remained unchanged after the researchers took into account other factors that could affect scores on tests or the development of dementia, such as age, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The study does not prove that enlarged perivascular spaces cause thinking and memory problems, only that there is an association. Enlarged spaces may not be used as a diagnostic tool, but as a marker of risk.

Signs and Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with your daily life.Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Depression
  • Difficulty communicating or finding words
  • Difficulty handling complex tasks
  • Difficulty reasoning or problem solving
  • Difficulty with coordination and motor functions
  • Difficulty with planning and organizing
  • Difficulty with visual and spatial abilities
  • Hallucinations
  • Inappropriate behavior 
  • Memory loss, which is usually noticed by a spouse or someone else
  • Paranoia
  • Personality changes

Dementia is caused by damage to or loss of nerve cells in the brain. Depending on the area of the brain that is affected by the damage, dementia can affect people differently and cause different symptoms.

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Growing Number of People Developing Weight-Linked Headache

February 4th, 2021

Woman with headacheAs worldwide obesity rates begin to soar, new research shows that growing numbers of people are developing a potentially blinding type of weight-linked headache that was once considered rare.

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

While the study was conducted in Wales, experts in the United States said the surge in these types of headaches, called idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH) are likely happening in the U.S.

IIH happens when high pressure around the brain causes symptoms like vision changes and headaches. There is too much cerebral spinal fluid (fluid around the brain and spinal cord) building up in the skull. This puts extra pressure on your brain and optic nerve.

In the study, IIH rates increased in Wales between 2003 and 2017, from 12 per 100,000 people to 76 per 100,000 people. During the same 25 year span, obesity rates in Wales rose from 29 percent of the population, to 40 percent.

Researchers looked at patients’ BMI, as well as their economic status based on their address. They compared that information to that of individuals without IIH.

Overall, the risk of developing IIH was higher in those who were obese. Economic status only affected women’s risk and this finding was independent of their weight, according to the study.

Obese women of childbearing years were at highest risk of IIH.

People with IIH were also more likely to require emergency hospital admissions than their counterparts without these headaches, with nine percent requiring brain surgery to prevent blindness, the study found.

The findings were published in the journal “Neurology.” 

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms can mimic a brain tumor, such as debilitating head pain, blind spots and possibly vision loss, according to the National Eye Institute.  Symptoms of IIH can include:

  • Blind spots
  • Double vision
  • Headache
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Peripheral vision loss
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Temporary blindness

The cause is not fully understood, but weight loss is the main treatment. Some people may need medication or surgery to drain the fluid and relieve the pressure.

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Cadavers Offer Potential Treatment for Blindness

January 27th, 2021

EyesRetinal stem cells collected from human cadavers offer a potential treatment for blindness, according to an article published on January 19 by “Stem Cell Reports.”

Human Cadavers Help with Blindness

Healthy retinal pigment epithelium cells implanted under the macula of blind monkeys restored some vision without serious side effects. The retinal pigment epithelium is a layer of pigmented cells in the retina and the macula is the central part of the retina. 

The transplanted cells effectively took over the function of the monkeys’ natural retinal pigment epithelium, enabling them to see, according to the researchers.

Research shows that human cadaver donor-derived cells can be safely transplanted underneath the retina and replace host function. This shows that it might be a tool for rescuing vision in patients with retinal disease.

To restore this population of retinal pigment epithelium cells in the primates, researchers extracted retinal stem cells from donated cadaver adult eyes.

Using cadaver donor eyes can help ensure donor cells match well with recipients, and can serve as a recurring source of human retinal pigment epithelium, the researchers said.

Retinal pigment epithelium “patches” or small quantities of collected cells, transplanted under the primates’ macula remained “stable and integrated” for at least three months.  There were no serious side effects such as immune system rejection or light sensitivity.

The transplanted cells also worked well with the existing retinal pigment epithelium to support the existing photoreceptors in their eyes, which helps with light absorption, among other functions.

Retinal Disease

Retinal pigment epithelium dysfunction can lead to eye disorders such as macular degeneration, causing vision loss and blindness, which affects about 200 million people worldwide.

The region of the eye functions as a barrier and regulator in the maintenance of normal vision.  

What IAA has to Say

Every day scientists are discovering new methods to help patients all over the world. While it may not be ready for humans now, one day doctors could be using this method to help restore people’s sight. Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be kept up to date with the new discoveries in the world of health and science. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Well Behaved Children Have a Better Chance of Being Happy and Healthy Adults

January 21st, 2021

Baby girl holding cell phoneA new study shows that well behaved children have a greater chance of leading healthy and happy lives as adults.

New Study

Researchers tracked over 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 45. They found that kids who were goal oriented and better able to restrain their thoughts, behaviors and emotions turned out to have healthier bodies and brains by the time they hit middle age.

The study found that as adults, children with better self-control aged at a slower rate. Their bodies and brains were healthier and biologically younger. The team also found that they had developed more health, financial and social reserves for old age.

The team believes it has to do with better emotional regulation to deal with life. They plan better so they experience fewer crises and challenges. And their response to challenges is more measured and thoughtful when crises do arise.

The study team gauged self-control between the ages of three and 11 by enlisting teachers, parents and the enrolled children to assess each child’s impulsivity, frustration tolerance and ability to persist in achieving goals.

A combination of physical exams, interviews and brain scans were then carried out at age 45 to determine physical health and social well being as an adult. The team found that those who had greater self-control when young had fewer indications of brain aging by middle age, were better informed about both health and finances, and had developed better social skills.

Researchers found that the findings held up even after accounting for both family income and IQ scores.

The study also found that some people shifted in their level of self-control over time. This suggests that self-control might be subject to intervention. So, even if good self-control wasn’t exercised in early life, there may still be time in adulthood.

The report was published online on January 4 in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Self-control and Success

Self-control can be a tool for success. Ways self-control can help you succeed are:

  1. The ability to achieve long-term goals: To achieve any long-term goals, individuals need to resist the tempting, immediate, yet low priority rewards with which your goals are in conflict.
  2. Anxiety: When people are experiencing negative emotions, they may distract themselves by shifting their attention to something else. Attentional control is an important form of self-control that enables people to avoid distractions and thereby to focus on what is most relevant and important.
  3. Addiction: Among alcohol and drug dependent clients in treatment, those with good self-control were more likely to finish treatment.
  4. Obesity: The ability to exercise self-control is linked to obesity.
  5. Physical health: Self-control better enables people to resist engaging in health-damaging behaviors.
  6. Relationship: Self-control enables people to maintain interpersonal harmony.
  7. Resilience: Resilient people have good control over impulses and have the ability to delay gratification in regard to the potential consequences of their actions. A resilient person has a belief in their own abilities to manage life’s challenges and situations effectively.

Research shows that people are happier, more productive and more creative when they feel they are the origin of their behavior.

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Diet and Lifestyle Changes can Provide Heartburn Relief

January 13th, 2021

Heart wearing stehtoscopeA new study published in the journal “JAMA Internal Medicine” says that diet and lifestyle changes can provide significant heartburn relief.

New Study

Researchers analyzed data collected every four years between 2005 and 2017 from the long-running Nurse’s Health Study. That included information from nearly 43,000 women, ages 42 to 62 years, who reported having acid reflux or heartburn also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), at least weekly.

They found that those who adhered to five “anti-reflux lifestyle factors,” saw a 50 percent reduction in the risk of GERD symptoms, and that adhering to all five could prevent nearly 40 percent of GERD cases in the general population. The modifications include:

  1. No smoking
  2. Drinking fewer than two cups a day of coffee, tea or soda
  3. Following a healthy diet, one that is high in whole grains and low in red meat and added sugars
  4. Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily
  5. Not being overweight, defined as maintaining a body mass index below 25

Not smoking and limiting coffee, tea and soda intake to two servings or less per day reduced the risk of symptoms among study participants by 10 percent, the data showed.

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly lowered the study participants risk for the condition by about 20 percent, the researchers said.

Keeping a healthy body weight dropped the incidence of symptoms by 40 percent. 

Help Ease Your Symptoms

Heartburn is a burning pain in your chest, just behind your breastbone. The pain is often worse after eating, in the evening or when lying down or bending over. To make symptoms easier:

  1. Don’t go to bed with a full stomach: Eat meals at least two to three hours before lying down. This will give food time to digest and get out of your stomach. Acid levels will also go down before you put your body in a position where heartburn is most likely to occur.
  2. Don’t overeat: Eat smaller portions at mealtime.
  3. Eat slowly: Take time to eat.
  4. Avoid heartburn triggers: Avoid foods and drinks that can bring on heartburn symptoms.
  5. Shed some pounds
  6. Stop smoking: The nicotine in cigarettes can weaken a part of your body called your lower esophageal sphincter. That muscle controls the opening between your esophagus and your stomach. When it is closed, it keeps acid and other things in your stomach from going back up.
  7. Avoid alcohol

Nearly 30 percent of adults in the United States cope with frequent heartburn and acid reflux. Once thought of as a condition that mostly affects older people, some research suggests that the incidence is increasing among those less than 40 years of age.

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