Category Archives: aging

Owning A Dog Is Good For Your Heart — Study Says What We All Knew

As a dog lover and owner I had to share this one with you along with a picture of my little canine companion who turns 12 next month.

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This is Gabi, who rides on the bike with me.

Tony

Our Better Health

It seems unconditional love from a fluffy, drooling canine is one key to a healthier life — as many people already expected.

A study of more than 3.4-million people revealed that having a dog in the house is linked to living a longer life. The research, published in Scientific Reports by Uppsala University in Sweden, reviewed a national registry of people aged 40 to 80 for up to 12 years. Just over 13 per cent were dog owners.

By evaluating health records, it found that registered dog owners had a lower risk of having heart attacks and other life-threatening conditions. It said owning a dog cuts down the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 36 per cent for people that live alone.

There is a slightly lower benefit to owning a canine for those who don’t live alone — the risk was cut by only 15 per cent. Researchers…

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Amish have internal ‘fountain of youth’ – Study

The first genetic mutation that appears to protect against multiple aspects of biological aging in humans has been discovered in an extended family of Old Order Amish living in the vicinity of Berne, Indiana, report Northwestern Medicine scientists.

An experimental “longevity” drug that recreates the effect of the mutation is now being tested in human trials to see if it provides protection against some aging-related illnesses.

Indiana Amish kindred (immediate family and relatives) with the mutation live more than 10 percent longer and have 10 percent longer telomeres (a protective cap at the end of our chromosomes that is a biological marker of aging) compared to Amish kindred members who don’t have the mutation, reports the new Northwestern study. (my emphasis)

Amish with this mutation also have significantly less diabetes and lower fasting insulin levels. A composite measure that reflects vascular age also is lower — indicative of retained flexibility in blood vessels in the carriers of the mutation — than those who don’t have the mutation, the research also found.

The paper was published Nov. 15 in the journal Science Advances.

These Amish individuals have very low levels of PAI-1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor,) a protein that comprises part of a “molecular fingerprint” related to aging or senescence of cells. It was previously known that PAI-1 was related to aging in animals but unclear how it affected aging in humans.

“The findings astonished us because of the consistency of the anti-aging benefits across multiple body systems,” said Dr. Douglas Vaughan, the lead author of the paper who has been studying PAI-1 for almost 30 years.

Vaughan, a cardiologist, is the Irving S. Cutter Professor and chairman of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine.

“For the first time we are seeing a molecular marker of aging (telomere length), a metabolic marker of aging (fasting insulin levels) and a cardiovascular marker of aging (blood pressure and blood vessel stiffness) all tracking in the same direction in that these individuals were generally protected from age-related changes,” Vaughan said. “That played out in them having a longer lifespan. Not only do they live longer, they live healthier. It’s a desirable form of longevity. It’s their ‘health span.’”

“Longevity” drug developed by Northwestern and Tohoku University

Northwestern has partnered with Tohoku University in Japanin the development and testing of an oral drug, TM5614, that inhibits the action of PAI-1. The drug has already been tested in a phase 1 trial in Japan and is now in phase 2 trials there. Northwestern will apply for FDA approval to start an early phase trial in the U.S., possibly to begin within the next six months.

The proposed Northwestern trial will investigate the effects of the new drug on insulin sensitivity on individuals with type 2 diabetes and obesity because of the mutation’s effect on insulin levels in the Amish.

A mutation confers longevity

In the new study, Northwestern scientists looked at individuals who had one mutant copy of the gene, rendering their level of PAI-1 about half the level of kindred with two normal copies. Continue reading

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Managing arthritis in the hands – MNT

I have mentioned ‘personal posts’ previously. Well, arthritis pains in the hands are something I live with daily. It doesn’t get more personal than this. For the past 15 years. I have had trouble buttoning shirts, jackets, etc. I drop keys and other small objects regularly. Any activity that involves manipulating fingers and thumbs causes pain to me in a greater of lesser degree. I thought this rundown on managing arthritis in the hands by Medical News Today was very thorough. I hope this subject is never more than academic for you.

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This kind of simple activity can be difficult if you have arthritis of the hands.

Many bones in the body, including those of the wrists and hands, are protected by cartilage. Cartilage can wear down over time. As a result, a person can experience a condition known as osteoarthritis.

Another name for this type of arthritis is “wear and tear” arthritis. The most common causes of osteoarthritis include age, repetitive joint movement, trauma, and sex. Genetics can also play a factor in the development of osteoarthritis.

Arthritis in the hands may also be caused by rheumatoid arthritis or post-traumatic arthritis.

Fast facts on arthritis in hands:

Women are more likely than men to experience osteoarthritis.
There is no cure for any type of arthritis in hands.
Treatment focuses on relieving the pain and managing the underlying condition.
In rare instances, a doctor may recommend surgery to repair a severely damaged finger joint.

What types of arthritis affect the hands?

Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect the hands.

While osteoarthritis is due to degenerative changes in cartilage, RA is the result of an autoimmune condition.

RA occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue that protects the joints. The resulting symptoms can be similar to those of osteoarthritis, including pain, inflammation, and redness.

RA can occur with no risk factors. However, women are more likely to experience the condition than men. Those with a family history of RA, who are obese, or who smoke are also at a greater risk of developing it.

While a person can experience RA at any age, the most common age of onset is between 40 and 60.

A person can also experience post-traumatic arthritis in the hands. This occurs after a person has damaged their hands, such as in a sport-related injury or accident.

Broken or sprained fingers or wrists can also cause post-traumatic arthritis. Injuries can accelerate the breakdown of protective cartilage as well as cause inflammation. Continue reading

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Mushrooms may help to slow aging – MNT

It’s always gratifying to run across information that may indicate an ally in the battle of aging in which we are all engaged. Medical News Today reports on what I would have thought to be an unlikely ally – the mushroom.

A new study published in the journal Food Chemistry suggests that certain mushrooms contain two antioxidants thought to improve healthspan and stave off aging.

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The new research was led by Robert Beelman, professor emeritus of food science and director of the Pennsylvania State University Center for Plant and Mushroom Products for Health in State College. Michael D. Kalaras, a postdoctoral assistant in food science, is the first author of the paper.

Researchers were already aware that mushrooms are “the highest source” of an antioxidant called ergothioneine, but little was known about glutathione, another major antioxidant.

Additionally, levels of antioxidants vary across different species of mushroom, so the researchers wanted to know which species had the most of these two chemicals.

The new findings are significant in the context of the so-called free radical theory of aging. As Prof. Beelman explains, “[The theory] has been around for a long time [and it] says when we oxidize our food to produce energy there’s a number of free radicals that are produced that are side products of that action and many of these are quite toxic.” Continue reading

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Why am I cold when you aren’t? – MNT

A little personal history here. Back when I first retired, 17 years ago, I got really careless about my weight and health. I ballooned up to 225 pounds from the 185 to 190 that I had carried while working. I was around 5 feet 10 inches at the time. My waistline measured between 42 and 44 inches. The only good thing about carrying that weight is that I never was bothered by the cold. I began writing this blog in March of 2010. Since that time I have taken my weight down to the 155 pound area and my waist to 31 inches. Yes, I am enjoying robust good health now. BUT, one of the aspects of my life that has changed negatively is that I am often cold. When the temp drops I freeze. I think I wear long underwear about six months a year. When I asked my doctor about this, she told me that in losing the fat, I had taken the insulation away from my core and I was now more vulnerable to cold temps. So, I was most interested in this information from Medical News Today on feeling the cold.

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Gloves? Check. Hat? Check. Thermal layers? Check. But why am I the only one prepared for the onslaught of a snowstorm? The cold affects everyone differently.

With Halloween now firmly behind us, we find ourselves on the slippery slope into full-blown winter. While many of us may enjoy spending time outdoors on a crisp winter day, few people enjoy feeling cold.

Our ability to sense temperature changes is essential to our survival. Small changes to our core temperature can have detrimental effects, putting us at risk of heat stroke in the summer or hypothermia in the winter. Continue reading

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Are there alternatives to Flomax?

This post is primarily for senior guys, folks who may be involved with senior guys, or middle aged guys who may want to peek into the not too distant future.

Medical News Today reported that for most, benign prostatic hyperplasia is a mild inconvenience that can be treated with a drug called Flomax. But Flomax does not work well for everyone. Some alternatives can help men with this condition relieve their symptoms and feel better.

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Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or an enlarged prostate can cause painful and frequent urination, bladder stones, and incontinence. According to one estimate, nearly 1 in 5 men between 55 and 74 experience this condition.

What is Flomax?

Flomax, the branded version of the drug tamsulosin, is often prescribed to relieve the symptoms of BPH. Flomax is one of a group of drugs called alpha-1 blockers that can help urine flow more easily.

Commonly known as alpha-blockers, these drugs change the behavior of the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. This can relax muscles in the urinary tract, making it easier to urinate.

Flomax is considered a selective alpha-blocker, which means it targets the urinary tract specifically and has less effect on other muscles.

In men with a moderately enlarged prostate who have no serious health issues, Flomax often works well. But for some, it causes unpleasant side effects. Common side effects of Flomax include:

low blood pressure
nasal congestion
swollen ankles
dry mouth
headaches and dizziness
fatigue
problems with ejaculation

For some men, however, the cost is also a significant concern. Flomax can cost more than $200 per month and might not be entirely covered by insurance. Flomax may be no more effective than other alpha-blockers, but the manufacturing company spends more than $100 million marketing it to consumers, so it is often the only BPH drug many people know about. Continue reading

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Losing weight through diet and exercise helps brain blood circulation in older diabetics – Study

Once again we have it demonstrated that diet and exercise prove beneficial even to seniors suffering from diabetes, according to HealthyinAging.org.

Type 2 diabetes affects blood circulation. The disease stiffens blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen that circulates throughout your body. This includes your brain. When blood flow in the brain is impaired, it can affect the way we think and make decisions.

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People who have type 2 diabetes are often overweight or obese. These are conditions that may also be linked to cognitive problems (problems with thinking abilities). Lowering calorie intake and increasing physical activity are known to reduce the negative effects of type 2 diabetes on the body. However, the effects of these interventions on cognition and the brain are not clear.

Recently, researchers examined information from a 10-year-long study called Action for Health in Diabetes (Look AHEAD). In this study, participants learned how to adopt healthy, long-term behavior changes. In their new study, the researchers focused on whether participants with type 2 diabetes who lowered calories in their diet and increased physical activity had better blood flow to the brain. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Continue reading

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Keeping Your Arteries Young – Tufts

The subject of aging is truly a multi-faceted one. I know, at 77, I feel like I find new aspects of it revealed nearly every day. Following is a write up from Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter that contains some good, positive information. All bold face items are my emphasis.

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It’s common to develop significantly stiffer arteries and high blood pressure as we age past our 50s. Healthy lifestyle factors may go a long way toward slowing this process. A new study published in Hypertension suggests healthy vascular (blood vessel) aging may be possible even in people 70 years and older.

“This study showed that regardless of age, following a healthy lifestyle and controlling cardiovascular risk factors translates to fewer adverse heart disease events,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, who was not involved in the study. “That’s very encouraging.”

Artery Aging:

Most prior studies have looked at associations between poor vascular health and increased risk of cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke. But this study, led by Teemu J. Niiranen, MD, a research fellow at Boston University School of Medicine, focused on people with healthier arteries at the start of the study. “We found that it’s possible to maintain the blood vessels of people in their 20s, even into old age, but it’s rare in the Western world,” he says. At age 50, about 30% of those studied had healthy vascular aging. Over age 70, only 1% of people had healthy arteries. Continue reading

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Memory loss reversed in early Alzheimer’s – Study

Researchers have successfully reversed memory loss in a small number of people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease using a comprehensive treatment program, which involves a combination of lifestyle changes, brain stimulation, and medication.

Researchers suggest the MEND program is highly effective for reversing memory loss.

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Memory improvements as a result of the treatment program have so far been sustained for 2 years, the researchers report, and some patients have even been able to return to work as a result.

Study co-author Dr. Dale Bredesen, of the Buck Institute on Research and Aging in Novato, CA, and colleagues recently published their findings in the journal Aging.

While the study only involved 10 patients, the researchers believe their findings may open the door to an effective therapy for cognitive decline.

“The magnitude of improvement in these 10 patients is unprecedented, providing additional objective evidence that this programmatic approach to cognitive decline is highly effective,” says Dr. Bredesen.

There are currently around 5.4 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading

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Exercise can make cells healthier, promoting longer life – Study

Eat less, more more; live longer remains the mantra of this blog. Now comes MedicalPress with a study confirming the move more segment.

Whether it’s running, walking, cycling, swimming or rowing, it’s been well-known since ancient times that doing some form of aerobic exercise is essential to good health and well-being. You can lose weight, sleep better, fight stress and high blood pressure, improve your mood, plus strengthen bones and muscles.

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“Whether muscle is healthy or not really determines whether the entire body is healthy or not,” said Zhen Yan of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. “And exercise capacity, mainly determined by muscle size and function, is the best predictor of mortality in the general population.”

But why? Yan might have some answers. He and colleagues at UVA are peering inside the cell to understand, at a molecular level, why that workout – like it or not – is so vital to the body. They found that one important benefit involves the cellular power plant – the mitochondria – which creates the fuel so the body can function properly.

 

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9 Secrets Of The World’s Longest Living People

Group of older mature people lifting weights in the gym

Group of older mature people lifting weights in the gym

Here is a really useful summary of successful aging guidelines.

Tony

Our Better Health

What is the secret to longevity, and why do some people attain it while others don’t? Is it sheer luck, or are there some key factors at play here? Are we all born with the same potential to live a long and healthy life or is that determined solely by genetics?

Interestingly, it seems as though people living in specific regions of the world tend to live longer than those living elsewhere. So, what is it about these specific regions that offer people a chance to live a full life? This was the question that National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner wanted to answer.

Through his research, Buettner identified five geographic locations where people have been observed to live the longest. He has identified these regions as “Blue Zones,” and found that even though these zones differ widely geographically, the diets and lifestyles of their residents share much in common.

You…

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Diabetic Seniors may have increased risk for fracture – Study

When it rains it pours. As if it weren’t difficult enough to be a senior citizen, it turns out that Type 2 diabetes adds a further level of complexity.

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Though seniors with Type 2 diabetes (T2D) tend to have normal or higher bone density than their peers, researchers have found that they are more likely to succumb to fractures than seniors without T2D. In a new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research found older adults with Type 2 diabetes had deficits in cortical bone–the dense outer surface of bone that forms a protective layer around the internal cavity– compared to non-diabetics. The findings suggest that the microarchitecture of cortical bone may be altered in seniors with T2D and thereby place them at increased risk of fracture.

Participants in this study included over 1,000 member of the Framingham Study who were examined over a period of 3 years. High resolution scanning allowed researchers to determine that many older adults with diabetes had weakness specific to cortical bone microarchitecture that cannot be measured by standard bone density testing.

Osteoporotic fractures are a significant public health problem that can lead to disability, decreased quality of life, and even death – not to mention significant health care costs. Risk of fracture is even greater in adults with T2D, including a 40 – 50% increased risk of hip fracture – the most serious of osteoporotic fractures.

“Fracture in older adults with Type 2 diabetes is a highly important public health problem and will only increase with the aging of the population and growing epidemic of diabetes. Our findings identify skeletal deficits that may contribute to excess fracture risk in older adults with diabetes and may ultimately lead to new approaches to improve prevention and treatment,” said Dr. Elizabeth Samelson, lead author of the study.

Researchers hope that novel studies such as this will help to revolutionize the area of bone health, especially for older adults. It is important to follow screening guidelines for bone density testing, but better understanding of all the factors that affect bone strength and the tendency to fracture is needed.

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Music, meditation may improve early cognitive decline – MNT

Meditation and music listening programs have shown promise in improving measures of cognitive and memory in adults with subjective cognitive decline, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Emerging evidence indicates that subjective cognitive decline (SCD) could represent a pre-clinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, or unhealthy brain aging. Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million people in the United States.

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Dr. Kim Innes, associate professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University in Morgantown, and colleagues aimed to assess the effects of two mind-body practices – Kirtan Kriya meditation and music listening – on cognitive outcomes in people with SCD.

Kirtan Kriya is a form of yoga meditation that combines focused breathing practices, singing or chanting, finger movements, and visualization. Practitioners of yoga claim that this type of meditation stimulates all of a person’s senses and the associated brain areas.

Meditation and music listening programs have shown promise in improving measures of cognitive and memory in adults with subjective cognitive decline, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Listening to music or taking part in meditation could improve memory and cognitive function among people with SCD.

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Tips for better aging – NIA

Below is a neat little infographic from the National Institute on Aging.

I thought it was nice to see how our life span has increased since the turn of the century.  On the other hand, check out the fact that nearly two out of three of us over 65 have multiple chronic conditions. There are some very simple – and easy – suggestions that can help seniors to live longer. But, you don’t have to wait till you are in your 60’s or even late 50’s to work on your health. As I have said dozens of times here, eat less; move more; live longer.

Start today no matter how young you are. Tomorrow is closer than you think.

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Tony

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I battle a head cold …

SPOILER ALERT! I lose.

I flew back from Las Vegas about two weeks ago. As a Chicagoan, that means I had about a four hour flight. Because of the atmospheric change between Chicago and Las Vegas, ie., the increase in humidity and the fact that Las Vegas is about a half mile above sea level, I usually ease into my bike riding exercise upon return. So, the first day back I rode 10 miles and the second 15. During the rides and afterwards, I was vaguely aware of a tickle in my throat and my nose got kind of sniffle-y. I didn’t pay much attention to it. So, the first round went to the cold. I should have started eating 500 MG Vitamin C tablets at the first sign. You can blast a cold out of your system if you catch it early enough.  I foolishly attributed the sniffles and sore throat to jet lag, etc. I was wrong.

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By the fourth day, I was coughing, sneezing and my throat was killing me. I had a hard time sleeping. The cold flourished like this for several days. Continue reading

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Some possibly good news on Alzheimer’s Disease – TED talk

Regular readers know that I have lost three family members to Alzheimer’s Disease and/or dementia. So, anything having to do with those afflictions I find relevant.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Brain scientist Owen Carmichael is preparing for his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. And for his children’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. And he’s asking an important question: Can we use basic health tools to train our brain to resist the effects of the disease?

DR. OWEN CARMICHAEL has a Ph.D. in robotics and a passion for brain science. Owen is an associate professor and the Director of Biomedical Imaging at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. He uses technology not only to better understand how the wiring of your brain affects your ability to think, but also how your actions and your environment can affect the wiring of the brain. In other words: are we able to set ourselves up to be mentally healthy throughout our lives, or are we destined for our brains to turn our lives one way or another? Owen has been studying these questions for years.

Tony

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