Treating Unhealthy Cholesterol Levels May Lower Alzheimer’s Risk
Establishing healthy cholesterol levels may help prevent a brain buildup of toxic beta-amyloid proteins that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Researchers used brain scans to measure amyloid buildup in 74 older adults—three with mild dementia, 38 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI, cognitive problems greater than the norm for a person’s age and education), and 33 with normal brain function. The scientists also assessed participants’ fasting levels of “bad” LDL and “good” HDL cholesterol, according to a report published in the Dec. 30, 2013 online edition of JAMA Neurolo-gy. The study found that higher levels of LDL and lower levels of HDL are associated with greater accumulation of amyloid plaque in the brain, results that provide “…a reason to certainly continue cholesterol treatment in people who are developing memory loss regardless of concerns regarding their cardiovascular health,” the lead author concluded.
Long-Term Anxiety Raises Risk of Stroke
Recent research gives people with chronic anxiety something else to worry about. The research, which involved 6,019 participants in a long-term health study, links persistent anxiety with increased stroke risk. Study participants ranging in age from 25 to 74 were interviewed, underwent medical examinations, gave blood samples, and filled out a questionnaire designed to gauge levels of depression and anxiety. The researchers then tracked the incidence of stroke among the research subjects over 22 years and found that, independent of other health factors or depression levels, participants reporting the highest levels of anxiety were 33 percent more like-ly to suffer a stroke than those with the lowest levels. “Everyone has some anxiety now and then, but when it’s elevated and/or chronic, it may have an effect on your vasculature years down the road,” said the lead author of the study, which was published in December 2013 in the journal Stroke. She said the anxiety/stroke link may be the result of higher rates of smoking or physical inactivity among anxious individuals, or the effects of stress hormones, hypertension, or higher heart rates linked to anxiety.
Underactive Thyroid May Not Lead to Memory Problems
New research challenges the widely held belief that an underactive thyroid might contribute to memory prob-lems and/or dementia. A study published Dec. 30, 2013 in the journal JAMA Neurology found no association between underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which often precedes the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. After analyzing data on about 1,900 older participants in a long-term health study, researchers concluded that there is no significant link between thyroid function and indications of cognitive decline. MCI occurred in 18 percent of participants with mild hypothyroidism, 17 percent of those with severe hypothyroidism, and 16 percent of those with normal thyroid function. The new findings are interesting, experts say, but further studies that follow individuals over time are needed to confirm the results.
MGH Researchers Identify Possible Parkingson’s Supplement
A small study conducted by MGH researchers and other scientists suggests that the nutritional supplement inosine might benefit people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Inosine is converted by the body into urate, a natural antioxidant thought to help prevent PD and slow the progression of the movement disorder. Urate cannot be taken as a supplement because it breaks down in the digestive system when taken by mouth. Working with 75 PD patients with low urate levels, researchers compared the effects of various dosages of inosine to the effects of an inactive placebo. Participants who received inosine experienced elevations of urate levels without suffering serious side effects, according to a report published Dec. 23, 2013 in the journal JAMA Neurology. The study’s lead author said that the results were “very encouraging,” but cautioned that PD patients should not attempt treatment with inosine on their own, excessively high urate levels can lead to kidney stones, gout, and other unwanted side effects. A larger clinical trial is planned for the near future.
The post News Briefs: Cholesterol & AD; Long-Term Anxiety & Stroke; Thyroid & Memory appeared first on University Health News.
Powered by WPeMatico