Tag Archives: Aging

AGING: HOW BIOMARKERS HELP DIAGNOSE DEMENTIA

Biomarkers are measurable indicators of what’s happening in your body. They can be found in blood, other body fluids, organs, and tissues, and can be used to track healthy processes, disease progression, or even responses to a medication. Biomarkers are an important part of dementia research.

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Old Age: ‘Hyperexcitable Neurons’ Interrupt Sleep

For many older adults, a good night’s rest is elusive. The implications of chronically poor sleep can be far-reaching and include a decline in cognitive functioning and detrimental effects on health and general well-being. Fortunately, relief may be in sight.

A new study led by investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine shows that neurons in the lateral hypothalamus, a brain region, play a pivotal role in sleep loss in old mice. More specifically, the arousal-promoting hypocretin neurons become hyperexcitable, driving sleep interruptions.

Read the full story: https://stan.md/3JQ7z77

Luis de Lecea, PhD, is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford Medicine. He is the study’s senior author and hopes the finding could pave the way to new drug treatments for age-related sleep problems in humans.

Shi-Bin Li, PhD, is an instructor in the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department at Stanford Medicine. He is also a basic life research scientist in the de Lecea lab, and is the lead author of the study. Lisa Kim is Senior Manager of Media Relations for Stanford Medicine and Stanford Health Care. Lisa has a deep background in journalism, as she is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who has covered stories on both the national and local levels.

Multimorbidity: Affects 95% Of Adults Over Age 65

Multimorbidity (two or more coexisting conditions in an individual) is a growing global challenge with substantial effects on individuals, carers and society. Multimorbidity occurs a decade earlier in socioeconomically deprived communities and is associated with premature death, poorer function and quality of life and increased health-care utilization. Mechanisms underlying the development of multimorbidity are complex, interrelated and multilevel, but are related to ageing and underlying biological mechanisms and broader determinants of health such as socioeconomic deprivation. Little is known about prevention of multimorbidity, but focusing on psychosocial and behavioural factors, particularly population level interventions and structural changes, is likely to be beneficial. Most clinical practice guidelines and health-care training and delivery focus on single diseases, leading to care that is sometimes inadequate and potentially harmful. Multimorbidity requires person-centred care, prioritizing what matters most to the individual and the individual’s carers, ensuring care that is effectively coordinated and minimally disruptive, and aligns with the patient’s values. Interventions are likely to be complex and multifaceted. Although an increasing number of studies have examined multimorbidity interventions, there is still limited evidence to support any approach. Greater investment in multimorbidity research and training along with reconfiguration of health care supporting the management of multimorbidity is urgently needed.

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Infographic: Age-Related Macular Degeneration

An eye disease that causes vision loss.

Macular degeneration causes loss in the center of the field of vision. In dry macular degeneration, the center of the retina deteriorates. With wet macular degeneration, leaky blood vessels grow under the retina.

Blurred vision is a key symptom.

A special combination of vitamins and minerals (AREDS formula) may reduce disease progression. Surgery may also be an option.

Ear Health: Causes And Treatments For Tinnitus

‘HARVARD MEDICINE’: THE AGING ISSUE – AUTUMN 2021

Medicine: Is Metformin A Wonder Drug? (Harvard)

RESEARCH: ‘THE SCIENCE OF HEALTHY AGING’ (SCRIPPS)

Although growing older comes with a number of major life changes, science can help inform the things we do in the here in and now to forestall the most serious features of the aging self, promoting healthspan and not just lifespan.

Summer 2021
  • Build Muscle – Muscle mass is one the best predictors of health and longevity. Muscle tissue is known to release its own chemicals called myokines, which can have benefits that span cognition, immunity and anti-cancer activity. By performing regular, resistance-based exercise that prioritizes strength, we can delay the loss of bone density and risk of physical injuries.
  • Vitamin D – Commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is in fact a critical hormone that helps maintain healthy bones, boost our immune system and improve our cardiovascular function. With age, the production of vitamin D in the skin can become less efficient, so if we don’t spend enough time outdoors, our risk of vitamin D deficiency may increase.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases – One of the most unsettling aspects of aging is the potential for neurodegenerative disease. These conditions are increasingly prevalent in those with diabetes, suggesting that the brain’s blood flow and energy supply may be compromised. Research indicates that regular physical exercise, a healthy whole foods diet and staying intellectually active could at least slow the rate of decline.
  • Mindfulness – As we get older, major arteries can become thicker and less flexible, leading to increased blood pressure and undue strain on the heart. A regular mindfulness practice such as yoga or meditation has been shown to stem the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. By freeing us from this “fight-or-flight” state, this habit can improve blood flow and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Stay Social – As social animals, maintaining a strong sense of community and close personal relationships into old age are underestimated contributors to longevity. While social isolation in seniors can result in significant physical and mental decline, research suggests that close loved ones offer important emotional support and behavioral modifications that can overcome periods of high stress.
  • Metabolism – “My metabolism is slowing down!” That’s what we often hear, as the aging body becomes less effective at using energy, placing us at risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. By maintaining our muscle mass and reducing sugar consumption, we can support hormonal health, preserve our metabolism and keep our vitality into those advanced years. As scientists continue to find ways to extend our lives, paying attention to these keys to healthy aging can help increase the quality of those extra years.

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Cancer: Aging & Tumor Microenvironments

Professor Ashani Weeraratna has been studying the cancer microenvironment in her lab for the past 17 years. Taking into account that the tissues in our bodies change as we age is important when researching cancer biology. She hopes that gaining a better understanding of how the growth of cancer cells is affected by their direct cellular ‘neighbourhood’, especially when we age, could be key to developing better treatments for patients with cancer. Read more in

Doctor’s Journal: ‘Alcohol And Health’

Alcohol has been used by mankind since before recorded history. It causes a pleasant slowdown of the nervous system, Lessening inhibition  and loosening the tongue, making it the perfect lubricant for social interaction. Unfortunately, it is a metabolic poison.

Excess alcohol use is common enough to have resulted in its prohibition in the United States in the 20s. The side effects of this prohibition proved worse than its benefits, and alcohol currently enjoys the status of one of the few legally permitted Psychoactive drugs.

After diligently searching for beneficial effects of alcohol, society discovered that mild drinking promotes longevity. It is difficult to drink just the right amount of alcohol, and  There is little doubt that excessive drinking is deleterious to the body.

The liver is the organ responsible for getting rid of alcohol. Unfortunately, liver function gradually declines with age, so that the older you get the less alcohol you can tolerate. 14 drinks a week is the suggested upper limits for alcohol’s benefit, and this number shrinks as you get older.

I became interested in alcohol in the elderly because of a friend whose doctor discovered that his red blood cells were enlarged. This can be due to alcohol in at least two different ways. If you drink too much alcohol, you need less calories, and often have a poor diet as a result. B12 (and folic acid) deficiency can result and may cause large red blood cells.

I also learned that alcohol can directly caused large red blood cells because of the toxic effects on the bone marrow, where Red blood cells are made. The very young also have more difficulty with alcohol. Early in my career I discovered 2 young infants who had convulsions after getting into their parents wine closets. These convulsions turned out to be caused by a low blood sugar which developed because glucose, the common blood sugar, is consumed in the process of burning, or metabolizing, alcohol.

My own use of alcohol has been progressively declining with age. I feel good with less alcohol for a shorter time the older I get.

—Dr. C.