2012 > Aging > Health Briefs

Health Briefs

Health Briefs
Credit: Bumrungrad International hospital

+ Damaging duo of diabetes and heart failure      

On their own, heart failure and diabetes are serious, potentially fatal diseases. Even worse, a new research study offers evidence that the two diseases go hand-in-hand – having one increases a patient’s risk of becoming afflicted with the other.     

The results of the study, conducted by researchers at Japan’s Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine and published in the journal Cell Metabolism, help explain why patients with diabetes are more prone to suffer heart failure, and why heart failure patients have higher rates of insulin-resistant diabetes.     

The connection between the two age-related diseases – their incidence increases with age – involves a domino effect that prompts the body’s p53 protein (which also acts as a tumor suppressor) to produce a stress response that increases cell inflammation, a precursor to both heart failure and systemic insulin resistance, i.e. diabetes.     

The findings of the study suggest that developing more effective treatments depends upon figuring out a way to keep inflammation in check before the p53 protein response is triggered, and to accomplish this without suppressing the protein’s important tumor-fighting capabilities.

+ Osteoporosis added to obesity’s heavy toll     

The long list of diseases shown to be caused by obesity keeps growing. A recent Swedish study by researchers at the University of Gothenburg has led to osteoporosis joining the list.     

The study found that adiponectin, a hormone involved in weight control, is associated with the development of osteoporosis, the disease that makes bones weaker and more susceptible to fractures. The research findings were revealed following the study’s examination of osteoporosis risk factors among 11,000 men in the US, Sweden and Hong Kong.     

The human skeletal system is far more complex than just bones, joints and vertebrae. It is an important part of the body’s interconnected systems that are closely involved in the function of the brain and central nervous system. The skeletal system is also responsible for producing hormones that send signals to organs that regulate blood sugar and body weight.     

The study’s results showed that high adiponectin levels exacerbate skeletal fragility and impair the proper functioning of the body’s complex muscular system. The resulting decline in muscle mass increases a person’s risk of dangerous falls and bone fractures.

+ Silent strokes a leading cause of memory loss in seniors    

A US study of seniors revealed that silent strokes are the cause of roughly 25 percent of episodes of memory loss. Results of the study, published in a recent issue of the journal Neurology, chronicled the significant impact on memory resulting from strokes which produce no noticeable symptoms.    

The study was conducted among a group of over 600 men and women aged 65 or older with no history of dementia. Each senior underwent an MRI brain scan and participated in tests measuring memory, language, speed of thought and visual perception capabilities.    
Brain scans revealed that about one in four study participants had suffered silent strokes, and their resulting memory test scores were lower than those who had not suffered silent strokes.     

This study adds to the growing body of research on memory-related conditions that affect a significant segment of the senior population, while highlighting the importance of stroke prevention in helping preserve memory function.

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