New study demonstrates omega-3 fatty acids increase blood flow to regions of the brain associated with cognition

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According to a new study published last Thursday in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, by using neuroimaging, researchers were able to demonstrate increased blood flow in regions of the brain associated with memory and learning in individuals with higher omega-3 levels.

Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) are a group of conditions that cause mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. These conditions affect one’s ability to function socially, personally, and professionally. It’s important to recognize that Alzheimer’s disease begins long before symptoms start, just like many other conditions. There is evidence that simple prevention strategies can reduce the risk of ADRD by as much as 50%.

This new study included 166 individuals from a psychiatric clinic in which Omega-3 Index results were available. These patients were categorized into two groups: higher EPA and DHA concentrations (>50th percentile) and lower concentrations (<50th percentile). Quantitative brain single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) was performed on 128 regions of their brains and each individual completed computerized testing of their neurocognitive status.

SPECT can measure blood perfusion in the brain. In addition, performing various mentally stimulating cognitive tasks will show increased blood flow to specific brain regions. (Previous research has demonstrated that mentally stimulating activities reduce the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment even when performed later in life.) As a result, researchers identified significant relationships between the Omega-3 Index and regional perfusion on brain SPECT in areas that are involved with memory and neurocognitive testing.

This study demonstrated the positive relationships between omega-3 EPA and DHA status, brain perfusion, and cognition. This is significant because it shows a correlation between lower omega-3 fatty acid levels and reduced brain blood flow to regions important for learning, memory, depression and dementia.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Article Source: http://blog.designsforhealth.com/si-42214/new-study-demonstrates-omega-3-fatty-acids-increase-blood-flow-to-regions-of-the-brain-associated-with-cognition?

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Shift Work Throws Urologic Health Off Schedule

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Nonstandard shifts and a circadian rhythm disturbance known as shift work sleep disorder contribute to a significant increase in urinary tract symptoms and reproductive problems, according to three studies conducted at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

“A 45-year-old shift worker with shift work sleep disorder might look like a 75-year-old man in terms of his lower urinary tract symptoms,” John Sigalos, a medical student and investigator on one of the studies, said here at the American Urological Association 2017 Annual Meeting.

The other studies presented demonstrate that male shift workers with shift work sleep disorder have lower testosterone levels and more hypogonadal symptoms than daytime workers, and that infertile shift workers, especially those who work rotating shifts, have significantly worse semen parameters than infertile men who work the day shift.

In the United States, approximately 15% of the labor force works late-night or rotating shifts.

Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms Study

To determine the effect of poor sleep quality and shift work on lower urinary tract symptoms, Sigalos and his colleagues retrospectively reviewed the medical records of men treated at the Baylor andrology clinic from 2014 to 2016.

All the men had completed the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) to evaluate lower urinary tract symptoms, completed questionnaires about work schedules and sleep disorders, and had blood samples taken.

Of the 2487 participants, 766 (30.8%) reported working nonstandard shifts in the previous month and, of these, 36.8% were considered to be at high risk for sleep disorders.

Mean IPSS score was higher in shift workers with sleep disorders than in shift workers without, and daytime workers (7.77 vs 5.37 vs 6.84; P < .0001 between all groups).

IPSS scores were 3.1 points lower in shift workers with sleep disorders than in shift workers without, after age, comorbidities, and testosterone levels were controlled for (= .0001).

These findings suggest that poor sleep quality — rather than shift work itself — contributes to the increase in lower urinary tract symptoms. Patients at risk for shift work sleep disorder should be screened for lower urinary tract symptoms and counseled about the risk, Sigalos told Medscape Medical News.

Hypogonadism Study

The potential for hypogonadal symptoms and sexual dysfunction was examined by another group of Baylor investigators who used the same cohort of men.

On multivariable analyses that controlled for age, Charlson comorbidity score, and testosterone levels, mean scores on the quantitative Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Male (qADAM) questionnaire were 0.8 points lower in nonstandard shift workers than in daytime workers (P < .01). And mean qADAM score was 3.9 points lower in shift workers at high risk for sleep disorders than in shift workers at low risk (P < .01).

In addition, there was an independent association between high risk for shift work sleep disorder and lower testosterone levels after age, comorbidities, and history of testosterone supplementation were controlled for (P < .01).

Semen Parameters Study

The effects of shift work and sleep quality on semen parameters and reproductive hormones in men were assessed in a prospective study by Taylor Kohn, MD, and his colleagues.

The study participants — 75 infertile shift workers, 96 infertile nonshift workers, and a control group of 26 fertile men — completed questionnaires about shift work and sleep quality, and underwent semen analysis and hormone testing.

Sperm density was significantly lower in infertile shift workers than in infertile nonshift workers (P = .012), as were total motile counts (P = .019) and testosterone levels (= .026).

However, the differences in sperm motility, forward progression measures, luteinizing hormone levels, and follicle-stimulating hormone levels were not significant.

All semen parameters were significantly lower in the infertile shift workers than in the fertile control group, and luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels were significantly higher. Testosterone levels were about the same in the two groups.

On linear regression that controlled for age, Charlson comorbidity index, tobacco use, and average income, there was a significant negative association between total motile count and shift work (P = .039), and a significant positive association between total motile count and previous fertility (P = .041).

In addition, total motile counts were significantly lower in men who worked rotating shifts than in those who worked fixed shifts (P < .05).

The type of job shift workers performed also made a difference. Men who performed physical labor in environments where chemical use was common (such as oil fields and refineries) had significantly lower total motile counts than physical laborers without chemical exposure, medical workers, white-collar workers, and first responders (P < .05).

Sleep satisfaction also seemed to play a role. “When assessing reported overall sleep amounts in the previous month, follicle-stimulating hormone and testosterone levels trended downward as men became more unsatisfied with the amount of sleep they were getting,” Dr Kohn reported.

Thinking Beyond the Prostate

It is important for urologists to think beyond the prostate when treating men with lower urinary tract symptoms or sexual dysfunction, said Howard Adler, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York.

When men present with symptoms like those reported in these studies, clinicians need to consider not only prostate-related symptoms, but also age-related changes in bladder function, renal function, and other medical conditions, such as diabetes, he told Medscape Medical News.

At Stony Brook, Dr Adler explained, he and his colleagues have begun “asking patients about sleep habits and snoring, and are sending them for sleep studies to see if they have apnea or something else, especially patients with a lot of night-time urination.”

The studies were supported by the Baylor College of Medicine. The authors and Dr Adler have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

American Urological Association (AUA) 2017 Annual Meeting: Abstracts MP13-12 and PD13-08 presented May 12, 2017; Abstract MP91-06 presented May 16, 2017.

Written By: Neil Osterweil

Article Source: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/880096#vp_1

 

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Gout Patients Should Be Screened for Erectile Dysfunction

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Erectile dysfunction (ED) is common and often severe in men suffering from gout, according to the results of a cross-sectional survey of men who presented to a rheumatology clinic.

“These results strongly support the proposal to screen all men with gout for the presence of ED. Increasing awareness should in turn lead to earlier medical attention and treatment for this distressing condition,” said lead author Naomi Schlesinger, MD, chief, Division of Rheumatology, and professor of medicine at Rutgers–Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The results of the study were presented here at the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress 2014.

The most common inflammatory arthritis in men older than 40 years, gout is caused by deposits of urate crystals in the joints and is associated with uricemia. The crystals cause inflammation, pain, and swelling, and the inflammatory component of the disease is linked to risk factors for cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease.

The cross-sectional study included 201 men aged 18 to 89 years who presented at a rheumatology clinic between August 2010 and May 2013. Of these, 83 had gout.

Participants filled out a Sexual Health Inventory in Men (SHIM) questionnaire, which evaluates the ability to have an erection, the firmness of the erection, the ability to penetrate sufficiently for sexual intercourse, and sexual satisfaction. A score of ≤21 indicates ED; a score of ≤10 indicates severe ED.

“Men don’t usually volunteer sexual complaints,” said Dr. Schlesinger. “The gout patients in our study were generally delighted and grateful that someone finally asked them about ED.”

The mean SHIM score for all participants was 16.88. Patients with gout had a mean SHIM score of 14.38 compared with 18.53 in patients without gout (P < .0001).

A significantly greater percentage of patients with gout had ED compared with patients without gout (76% vs 52%, P = .0007). Also, significantly more men with gout had severe ED vs men without gout (43% vs 30%, P = .007).

The presence of ED was significantly more frequent in gout patients aged 65 years or older, compared with men of the same age without gout (P = .0001), and was significantly more likely to be severe (P = .0002).

A multivariate analysis adjusted for age, hypertension, low-density cholesterol level, glomerular filtration rate, obesity, and depression found that the association between gout and ED was statistically significant (P = .0096).

Silent Coronary Artery Disease

 “It is estimated that 1 in 5 men who present with ED have silent coronary artery disease. A man with ED, even with no cardiac symptoms, is a cardiac patient until proven otherwise,” said Dr. Schlesinger. “Perhaps we could say that the 3 ‘EDs’ are related: endothelial dysfunction leads to erectile dysfunction leads to early death.

“Gout patients who present with ED have an increased rate of cardiovascular risk factors and concomitant silent coronary artery disease and should be evaluated,” she added.

 Maya Buch, MD, from the Leeds Institute of Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Medicine, at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, praised the authors of this study for providing new information on these conditions with overlapping risk factor — gout and cardiovascular disease.
 “These patients are at risk for cardiomyopathies, and there is no literature on ED and gout. We know that patients with gout have multiple comorbidities, and it’s clear that rheumatologists need to address that,” she explained.

“I was surprised at how many patients with gout have ED. In addition to treating hyperuricemia in our patients with gout, we need to pay attention to cardiovascular risk factors. I hope that this study makes doctors more receptive to evaluating patients for ED,” she added.

Dr. Schlesinger has disclosed no relevant financial relationships. Dr. Buch has received honoraria and consulting fees from AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Roche-Chugai and has a research grant from Pfizer, Inc.

 European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress 2014: Abstract OP0135. Presented June 13, 2014.

Written By: Alice Goodman

Article Source: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/826773

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Fitness Tips for 50-Plus

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Upping your daily activity level at 50-plus is more manageable when you follow these fitness tips from a Johns Hopkins fitness expert.

One of the most important reasons to exercise at 50-plus is to keep your weight in check.

By maintaining a healthy weight, you lower your blood pressure and decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, says Johns Hopkins sports medicine expert Raj Deu, M.D.

Inspired to break a sweat? Before you grab your water bottle and gear bag, keep these six fitness tips in mind.

DOs

1. Strength train.

Muscular strength declines with age, so strength training is key for maintaining strength and preventing muscle atrophy at 50-plus. “Strength training has also been shown to help with bone density,” says Deu, “and that decreases the rate at which bone breaks down, which is important for reducing the risk of fractures later in life.”

2. Get an exercise partner.

“If you work out with a friend or your spouse, you generally tend to exercise more regularly because you have that person to coax you,” says Deu. “Even owning a dog will get you out and walking.”

3. Stretch regularly.

As our bodies age, our tendons get thicker and less elastic. Stretching can counter this and help prevent injury at 50-plus. Remember to stretch slowly; do not force it by bouncing.

DON’Ts

1. Start exercising without your doctor’s blessing.

Consult your health care provider if you have underlying health risks such as a cardiovascular, metabolic or renal disease. Inactive individuals who are healthy do not need an evaluation but are recommended to start slow and progress gradually. If you have any concerns or are unsure how to start, consult your physician, says Deu.

2. Sign up for an expensive gym.

If you’re on a budget, you can get plenty of exercise at home. Great fitness tips: Moderate time spent walking, gardening and even vacuuming all count as exercise. A modest investment in dumbbells and exercise bands will also allow you to do strength training at home.

3. Focus on cardio only.

While cardiovascular exercise is important, so is stretching and strength training (see the “Dos” for details) as well as core strength and balance exercises. Deu likes tai chi, Pilates and certain kinds of yoga for working on balance and core strength at 50-plus, which will help support and protect your spine and may help prevent a future fall.

TRY IT
Sit Less, Move More

Knowing you should exercise more can feel daunting, especially when you’re just starting out. Some people don’t feel they can fit in the full amount of physical activity their doctor recommends—and they give up on moving altogether. “But those recommendations are just guidelines,” says Johns Hopkins expert Kerry Stewart, Ed.D. “It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Try to focus on being less sedentary rather than more active. For example, you do not have to reach the goal of 10,000 steps per day in a week, but this should be the goal to reach over two to three months.”

Research shows that sitting still for long periods of time can cancel out the effects of 30 minutes of exercise. “There’s good evidence that being too sedentary, such as prolonged time in front of a TV, is perhaps as harmful to your heart health as not formally exercising at all,” Stewart says. Prolonged inactivity is linked to obesity and diabetes, even in people who are active for part of the day.

Yes, daily exercise is important, but so is regularly getting up and just moving around throughout the day, Stewart says.

Article Source: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/fitness-tips-for-50-plus?utm_medium=social&utm_source=Twitter&utm_campaign=Health&utm_term=FitnessTipsfor50-Plus&utm_content=HealthyAging

 

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Running Strengthens the Spine

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For the first time, research has shown that a particular exercise is good for the discs in the spine.

In the first human study of its kind, researchers have shown evidence that a specific physical exercise is beneficial for the discs in our spines. The study named “Running exercise strengthens the intervertebral disc” has been published in the journal Scientific Reports, and according to lead author Professor Daniel Belavy, it is considered a milestone in the spinal research field.

Conventional thinking among scientists was that spinal discs were not able to respond to any kind of exercises due to the slow metabolism of intervertebral disks. The new study is giving hope that physical activity can be prescribed as a remedy to strengthen spinal disks. This is especially true for younger people as exercise can be used as a preventative measure or treatment of back problems throughout one’s life.

Over the last decade, research has shown that the components of spinal disks are repaired very slowly which led researchers to expect that either drugs or exercise would have no real impact over a person’s lifetime. This study has shown that regular exercise including walking, running, or jogging does strengthen discs in the spine and improve overall back health.

According to Professor Belavy, their study did not find any greater benefit from more rigorous exercise like long distance running, and that regular walking may be just as beneficial to the spine. Furthermore, he suggests people should avoid long static postures while sitting or standing, and taking every opportunity to exercise during work time breaks such as choosing the stairs instead of the elevator.

The new study has challenged the notion that spinal disks take too long to respond to exercise. This has provided a starting point to develop effective physical activity protocols for strengthening intervertebral discs thus promoting a healthy back throughout our lives.

Article Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/exercise-strengthens-spine-disc/

 

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Exercise can boost brain power, prevent heart damage

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Looking for a magic elixir for health? There’s more evidence exercise may be it, improving thinking skills in older adults and protecting against heart damage in obese people, two separate studies published Monday show.

“Exercise has many, many benefits. … I don’t know that we fully understand why it has so many beneficial effects for so many organs and systems,” Dr. Roberta Florido, a cardiology fellow at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, told TODAY, as she listed some of the other known benefits, including improving depression, lowering blood pressure and strengthening muscles.

“We should do a better job of telling our patients to exercise,” she added.

In the first paper, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers at the University of Canberra in Australia analyzed 39 previous studies looking into the effect of exercise on thinking skills in people over 50. That included things like memory, alertness and the ability to quickly process information.

They found physical activity improved all of those skills regardless of a person’s cognitive status.

The key was 45-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per session “on as many days of the week as feasible.” A combination of both aerobic exercise and resistance training worked best.

Each type of exercise seemed to have different effects on the factors responsible for the growth of new neurons and blood vessels in the brain, said co-author Joe Northey, a PhD student at the University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise.

Tai chi was also helpful, though more evidence is needed to confirm this effect, the researchers note.

“Age is a risk factor no one can avoid when it comes to cognitive decline,” Northey said. “As our study shows, undertaking just a few days of moderate intensity aerobic and resistance training during the week is a simple and effective way to improve the way your brain functions.

Written By: A. Pawlowski

Article Source: http://www.today.com/health/exercise-can-boost-thinking-skills-protect-against-heart-damage-t110740

 

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How Can I Keep My Eyes Healthy?

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Megan Collins is an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a clinician at the Wilmer Eye Institute, where she specializes in pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus.

When it comes to keeping her eyes healthy, ophthalmologist Megan Collins has a few steadfast rules.

“I never, ever sleep in my contact lenses,” she says, and she never cleans those lenses using tap water, since it doesn’t have the disinfectant properties of cleaning solution and can cause serious eye infections. Another basic hygiene rule: Collins doesn’t share. At least not when it comes to contact lenses. The same goes for makeup. “I never share eye makeup with anyone, or try it on at cosmetic counters,” Collins says.

The key to clear eyesight, Collins says, is a responsible approach to overall health—eating well, exercising, and avoiding cigarettes. A (beta-carotene–packed) carrot a day can help keep the eye doctor away. Collins eats, and encourages patients to eat, a well-balanced diet of leafy greens, fruits, and omega-3–rich fish and nuts, all of which contain nutrients that may prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Eating greens also lowers the risk for developing diabetes, a major cause of vision impairment and loss among adults if left undetected and untreated. “Conditions like hypertension and diabetes can impact the eyes,” Collins says, and diet is the first line of defense against such health problems.

There are also healthy habits that you can create to work out those eye muscles. Collins schedules in breaks when looking at computer screens to avoid eye strain. “If you stare for too long, you might have blurry vision, tearing, or burning eyes,” she says. She suggests stopping at 15-minute intervals and focusing your eyes on a distant point, to work your eye muscles in a different way. It’s also important to get up from your desk and move every hour or so because this allows your eyes to rest while exercising other muscles, too. (Prolonged sitting can lead to higher blood pressure, high blood sugar, body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels, as well as increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.)

The key to clear eyesight is a responsible approach to overall health—eating well, exercising, and avoiding cigarettes.

If the print on your screen or in your books seems to be getting smaller, drugstore-variety magnifying spectacles may be the answer and are safe to use for adults who do not have other eye problems. “I recommend trying out a few different strengths while reading a magazine to see what works best,” Collins says.

When is it time to visit a practitioner? Not everyone needs to see an ophthalmologist or an optometrist annually. If you’re an adult who is under 40 and you haven’t had issues with your eyes and don’t wear corrective lenses, you get a pass from annual visits (though you should ask an eye-care provider how often you should schedule appointments). If you’re over 40, Collins recommends at least one comprehensive dilated eye exam a year, since many eye conditions can be asymptomatic. For instance, glaucoma, affecting 2.2 million people in the United States, is known as the “silent thief of sight” because most types usually cause no pain but if untreated can cause irreversible sight loss.

Another daily habit: sunglasses. Too much UV exposure increases your chances of cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss. Look for lenses with 100 percent UVA and UVB protection, usually indicated on the manufacturer’s label. And while spring and summer are prime times for sunglasses, the season doesn’t matter to UV rays. “I am very conscientious about wearing sunglasses when I am outside, even in winter,” Collins says. Sunglasses are essential regardless of age, so if you have kids, get them a pair as well.

And speaking of kids, if you have young ones at home, their eyes should be checked by a pediatrician annually.  Kids should be referred to a pediatric eye doctor if the pediatrician is concerned about any vision problems. A common condition to look for in kids is whether one or both eyes drift inward or outward, a condition called strabismus. “That needs to be seen by an eye doctor,” says Collins, because if the strabismus isn’t corrected early enough, a child has an increased risk of impaired vision. “Good vision depends on the brain and eyes working well together,” she explains. “If from a very early period in life, you have an eye that isn’t seeing clearly or drifting outward, the brain might not pay enough attention to that eye.”

By Belinda Lanks
 Article Source: http://www.johnshopkinshealthreview.com/issues/spring-summer-2017/articles/how-can-i-keep-my-eyes-healthy

 

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