Exercise to fight memory loss


REGULAR AEROBIC exercise can slow memory loss and cognitive decline in people living with Alzheimer’s disease. The study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease included 96 older adults living with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia.

The participants were randomly assigned to either cycling on a stationary bike or stretching intervention for six months, and they were followed for another six months.

The researchers used the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognition (ADAS-Cog) to assess cognition at baseline, three, six, nine and 12 months.

“Our primary finding indicates that a six-month aerobic exercise intervention significantly reduced the decline in global cognition in comparison to Alzheimer’s disease dementia’s natural course of decline,” said the study author.

The study supports the use of “exercise as an additional therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Bone marrow cell injections could help stroke patients

TREATING STROKE patients with an injection of their own bone marrow cells may lead to a reduction in brain injury and enhance recovery.

About 90 per cent of patients who suffer an ischaemic stroke suffer weakness or paralysis to one side of the body caused by injuries to the corticospinal tract (CST) which is the main white matter connection in the brain that carries movement-related information to the spinal cord, the lead researcher explained.

The findings of the clinical trial published in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine were based on 37 patients aged 18 to 80. All the patients received standard stroke treatment and follow-up rehabilitation; 17 patients who suffered the most severe strokes also received bone marrow cell injections.

As expected after a stroke, MRI scans of each patient at three months showed a decrease in the integrity of their CST. However, scans taken 12 months after the stroke showed an improvement in the CST of the 17 patients who received injections, even though their stroke was more severe. On the other hand, the CST of those who did not receive the injections showed ongoing and continuing microstructural injury and axonal degeneration.

Did You know?

Working 55 hours or more a week can increase the risk of stroke by 35 per cent and death from heart disease by 17 per cent compared with a normal working week of 35 to 40 hours.


Suffering in silence

HEARING IMPAIRMENT can accelerate decline in physical function as people grow older and put them at an increased risk for mobility limitations, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

The researchers used data from 2,956 older adults, average age 79 years. Among them, 33 per cent had normal hearing, 40 per cent had mild hearing impairment, 23 per cent had moderate hearing impairment and 4 per cent had severe hearing impairment.

Those with hearing impairment had poorer physical function, bad walking endurance, slower gait speed and poorer balance compared to those with normal hearing.

Over the study period (close to nine years), participants with hearing impairment had a faster decline in physical function compared with those with normal hearing.

Since hearing impairment is a treatable condition and affects nearly two-thirds of adults older than 70 years, prompt and appropriate interventions can “slow the decline of physical function associated with ageing,” the study concluded.

Did You know?

Listening to sedative music before bedtime can help older adults struggling with insomnia sleep better.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Danger from antibiotic overuse

OVERUSE OF ANTIBIOTICS can increase the risk of colon cancer, especially in people under 50.

While junk food, sugary drinks, obesity and alcohol are the main drivers for this rise, the study found that unnecessary use of antibiotics, especially in children and young adults, could also be a reason.

For the study presented at the ESMO World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer 2021, the researchers compared data from 8,000 people with colon and rectal cancer, with people without the disease.

Antibiotic use was associated with an increased risk of colon cancer across all ages. But the risk was highest among people younger than 50 years who had a nearly 50 per cent increased risk, compared to 9 per cent in people over 50 years.

Antibiotic use was linked to cancers in the colon's right side in younger people. The use of quinolones and sulfonamides/trimethoprim, antibiotics used to treat a wide range of infections, were associated with these cancers.

Covid-19 vaccines are safe in pregnancy

A US STUDY PUBLISHED in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology has found that Covid-19 vaccines do not damage the placenta and are safe for pregnant women.

The researchers examined placenta from 84 vaccinated women and 116 unvaccinated women after delivery. There was no evidence of any injury to the placenta.

The researchers also looked for abnormal blood flow between the mother and foetus, and problems with foetal blood flow, which had been previously reported in pregnant patients who had tested positive for Covid.

The rate of these injuries was similar among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated patients.

An earlier study published by the same team showed that pregnant women make Covid-19 antibodies after vaccination and transfer them to their foetuses.

Did You know?

Your risk of heart disease more than doubles if your spouse has experienced a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke, or has undergone procedures to open or bypass blocked arteries.

Study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 70th Annual Scientific Session

Loneliness shortens lifespan

LONELINESS IS ALREADY known to cause depression and other mental health issues. A new study from Singapore, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, finds loneliness in old age can negatively impact quality of life and shorten your lifespan.

The study included 3,449 participants who were interviewed three times between 2009 and 2015.

People who were lonely sometimes or most of the time at age 60 die three to five years earlier than their peers who were never lonely. Similarly, people who were lonely at age 70 and 80 have a life expectancy that was three to four years shorter or two to three years shorter, respectively. People who were lonely also spent less of their remaining life in good health or staying active.

Multiple benefits found

BLOOD PRESSURE-lowering medication can lower the risk of serious cardiovascular issues such as strokes, heart failure and heart attacks even in adults with normal blood pressure, according to a study published in The Lancet.

The researchers examined data from 3,44,716 adults, average age 65 years, from 48 randomised trials.

The participants were divided into two groups: Those with a prior diagnosis of cardiovascular disease (1,57,728 participants) and those without (1,86,988 participants).

Each group was further divided into seven subgroups based on their systolic blood pressure. About 20 per cent of those who had a prior cardiovascular disease and 8 per cent of those who had never had cardiovascular disease had normal or high-normal systolic blood pressure at the onset.

Over an average follow up of four years, 42,324 participants had at least one major cardiovascular event, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or death from cardiovascular disease.

Each 5mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure lowered the risk of developing major cardiovascular disease by around 10 per cent, stroke by 13 per cent, heart failure by 13 per cent, ischaemic heart disease by 8 per cent, and death from cardiovascular disease by 5 per cent.

The beneficial effects of the antihypertensive drugs were similar whether the participants had cardiovascular disease at the start or not, and regardless of their blood pressure at study entry. The relative reductions in risk were proportional to the intensity of blood pressure-lowering.

Did You know?

Ovarian stimulation drugs commonly used during fertility treatments do not increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Fertility and Sterility

New viable option

A COMMON INTRAUTERINE device (levonorgestrel IUD) could be a viable option for women who have early endometrial cancer or a precancerous condition, according to an Australian study published in the journal Gynecologic Oncology.

The standard treatment for early-stage endometrial cancer is total hysterectomy, the study author explained.

While safe and effective, surgery may not be an option for some patients—those who are young and would like to preserve their fertility and have children, and women who are quite obese and have other serious medical issues such as heart, kidney or lung disease.

The FEMME study, a phase II randomised clinical trial, included 165 patients with an average age of 53 years.

Among them, 82 per cent of women who had a precursor to endometrial cancer called endometrial hyperplasia with atypia and 52 per cent of women with endometrial cancer responded completely to the treatment. They had a “complete pathological response”. There was no sign of cancer in biopsy after six months.

Importantly, the trial also showed that with weight loss, the new treatment was more successful with a 67 per cent response rate, and side effects were less.