Thursday, October 14, 2010

Don't Shrink-Wrap Your Brain

Whatever you do, DON'T shrink your brain!!

Nearly 300 people in Pittsburgh kept track of how much they walked each week. After nine years of this, scientists took brain scans to measure their brain volume. After four more years, they tested to see if anyone in the study had cognitive impairment or dementia.

So. In this 13 year study, they found that people who walked only 6 - 9 miles an entire week cut their risk of developing memory problems in half!

Plus, these researchers showed that those who walked at least 6 miles per WEEK had less age-related brain shrinkage than people who walked less.

"Brain size shrinks in late adulthood, which can cause memory problems. Our results should encourage well-designed trials ...," said Kirk Erickson of the University of Pittsburgh, whose study appears in the journal Neurology.

Yes, yes, I'm glad it will encourage more research ... but it should also encourage you to get moving! Think about it. Just 6 miles in a week! We can do that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To Stent Or Not To Stent


Got a blocked artery? Oops. Now what?

You may have heard about docs using stents to open up the pipes, but there are two study-of-studies that don't look good for this procedure.


SYNTAX Study (New England Journal of Medicine)

  • 1,800 patients. The arteries feeding blood to their heart muscle was blocked. Docs either performed 1) a Bypass surgery or 2) a Stent implant.
  • Patients had fewer heart attacks and less need for further intervention with Bypass surgery than with the placement of a drug-eluting stent.
  • Patients receiving the stent had more “bad outcome endpoints”, including 28% greater risk for stroke or myocardial infarction, 48% more likely to need for repeat revascularization and 22% more likely to die. The researchers feel that perhaps 5,000 or more deaths annually may be avoided if some stent patients were to have undergone CABG instead.

Comparison of 13 Clinical Trials (Archives of Neurology)
But what if your carotid artery is blocked (the big one that runs from your heart, up your neck, and into your brain)? Docs have a couple of options:

1) surgery by opening the neck, scraping away the plaque buildup that can lead to stroke.
2) Stent the artery.

  • They found patients who got a carotid stent had a 19 percent higher risk of strokes or death compared with patients who had surgery.
  • HOWEVER, patients who had a stent had a 55 percent lower risk of a later heart attack and 85 percent reduction in the risk of injury to the cranial nerve compared with surgery.
So, for the heart arteries, it's clear that a bypass is better. But for arteries heading up into your brain, it's not clear at all ... you just have to decide which "risk set" you are most comfortable with.


Carotid stent has higher stroke risk than surgery | Reuters

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Apple or pear? It may be your genes | Reuters

A competitor prepares to go in front of judges at a casting call for the second season of the reality television programme ''Dance Your Ass Off'', during which overweight or obese contestants hope to lose weight by dancing, in New York December 18, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly/Files
Of course it's your genes. If you preferentially deposit fat on your hips rather than your belly, that is due to your genes. However, that you have the excess weight to begin with ... that comes does to your behavior.

What is significant is that the difference (apple or pear) may lead to a different susceptibility to chronic disease. Read the report here.
Obese? Apple or pear shaped? It may be your genes | Reuters

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Tens

It is ten minutes after ten am on 10/10/10. Is this a sign pr just a sigh?

Getting ready for my radio program at 11:00 this morning. Would love to hear from you guys: google WMNY, will Clower and you'll find the link to listen live while you're drinking your second cup!

Talk to you soon,
Will

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