research

How Do We Help Patients Reduce their Risk of Dementia?

Here’s something to note when helping patients reduce their risk of dementia: each year in the US, doctors diagnose around 3 million cases. However, dementia isn’t a disease, but a grouping of conditions that impair brain functions. These functions can include: Memory Communication and language Ability to focus and pay attention Reasoning and judgment Visual perception Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells, with different types of damage causing different types of dementia. For example, vascular dementia is  caused by conditions that deprive brain cells of oxygen, such as a stroke. Alzheimer’s disease is associated with brain cell damage that prevents communication between the cells.  Dementia associated with aging largely affects those over the age of 60, and although there is no cure, various treatments can help with symptoms or slow progression. However, new research is suggesting that certain lifestyle changes could help decrease the risk of developing dementia in old age. New research published in JAMA shows that there may be a link between chronic or persistent pain and an increased risk for accelerated dementia. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco published results on a longitudinal study that followed patients for up to 12 years, and found that those who reported pain in the first two years of interviews were more likely to have a faster decline in memory performance as they aged and also had an...

Stay Young: Drinking Coffee Adds Years To Your Life

Who knew that your morning cup of joe could actually be doing more than just keeping you awake? Two recently published studies published by the Annals of Internal Medicine show that drinking coffee will decrease your mortality rate, allowing you to actually have more time for more cups of coffee. So all those 2 a.m cups while studying for the MCATs or the 10 p.m cup just when you get back from class have actually been more beneficial than you thought. One study had results that showed lower mortality: During a mean follow-up of 16.4 years, 41 693 deaths occurred. Compared with nonconsumers, participants in the highest quartile of coffee consumption had statistically significantly lower all-cause mortality (men: HR, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.82 to 0.95]; P for trend < 0.001; women: HR, 0.93 [CI, 0.87 to 0.98]; P for trend = 0.009). Inverse associations were also observed for digestive disease mortality for men (HR, 0.41 [CI, 0.32 to 0.54]; P for trend < 0.001) and women (HR, 0.60 [CI, 0.46 to 0.78]; P for trend < 0.001). Among women, there was a statistically significant inverse association of coffee drinking with circulatory disease mortality (HR, 0.78 [CI, 0.68 to 0.90]; P for trend < 0.001) and cerebrovascular disease mortality (HR, 0.70 [CI, 0.55 to 0.90]; P for trend = 0.002) and a positive association with ovarian cancer mortality (HR, 1.31 [CI, 1.07 to 1.61]; P for trend = 0.015). In the EPIC Biomarkers subcohort, higher coffee consumption was associated with lower serum...

Do Fidget Spinners Actually Work?

Fidget spinners have become one of the best-selling toys in the nation, sweeping elementary and middle schools, while demanding attention of concerned parents and teachers. The ubiquitous toy—which consists of a small blades that spin around a core—has been banned in many classrooms because they’re viewed as a distraction. But, it turns out fidget spinners are intended to have the opposite effect. The toys are actually meant to relieve lack of focus and restlessness common in individuals with ADHD, anxiety, and autism. Fidget spinners are among a long line of fidget toys—such as stress balls and ballpoint pens—that help limit distraction and improve performance. The utility of fidgeting can be explained using the famous Yerkes-Dodson law of arousal. According to the law, an individual requires a certain level of arousal, or stimulation, to achieve optimal performance. Based on the Yerkes-Dodson law, the spinning blades of a fidget spinner draws the eyes of its user and may provide the individual with an optimal level of arousal—which then helps lead to peak performance on a given task. So, imagine someone’s working on an assignment but, with all the loud noises, their classroom environment is too uncomfortable. There’s too many distractions, or stimuli, which prevent the student from performing well on their assignment. This person might use the a fidget spinner as a way to limit the distractions and reach a level...

This Will Make You Think About How To Diagnose Mental Health

There needs to be proper research developed in order to properly diagnose mental health. Historically, mental health was generally less concerned with making a diagnosis, and generally more concerned with psychoanalytical approaches (Aboraya et al, 2005). From about the 1950’s onwards, psychiatric and mental health conditions were more likely to be diagnosed as entities, as a more medical model was moved towards in this area (Aboraya et al, 2005). In order to use this medical model, classification systems and diagnostic systems were needed (Aboraya et al, 2005). Accordingly, several systems were developed. The World Health Organisation has published diagnostic criteria manuals, such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) (World Health Organisation, 1948). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) was first published by the American Psychiatric Association Committee on Nomenclature and Statistics in 1952 (American Psychiatric Publishing; 1952). Each of these has revised editions, and they map together for most conditions discussed. For a diagnostic system to be developed and useful there must be agreement upon what are the most important parts of a disease (Aboraya et al, 2005). For instance, using schizophrenia as an example, if criteria relating to aspects such as symptoms, illness and behaviours are met, the result is a diagnosis of schizophrenia. According to the DSM-V, these include at least two of the following for at least 6 months – hallucinations, delusions, disorganised speech negative...

When Will Science Fiction Become Science Fact?

What can we expect to see in the next few decades as medicine progresses? Have your favorite science fiction films and medical television shows predicted the future of medicine? You might think that science fiction and movies are just stories. Pie in the sky. But often, ideas for future procedures are dreamt up in the films we call entertainment. Science fiction has officially become science fact. They could be seen as predictions and demonstrations of how medicine and biotechnology might look in the future. Exploring is what humans do best and if these movies are anything to go by, we have some great inventions ahead of us, that aren’t as “pie in the sky” as you might think. In this infographic from GapMedics, we look at some of the movies that could shape medical technology and change the way we live and treat illnesses in the future. Make sure to also check out Yash Pandya’s series of “Movies that Illuminated The Medical Field!” Parts One, Two, and Three! Medicine has intrigued cinema for as far back as we can remember. From the gruesome depictions of surgical procedures to the long struggles against chronic ailments, the medical field is omnipresent in movies. Furthermore, given the current struggles in medicine, including antibiotic resistance and our inability to manage all diseases, a look back is well warranted to put things in perspective and...

Are Older Doctors Worse Than Younger Ones?

If you’re a patient, would you trust older doctors, or younger ones? Perhaps you’d pick an older one because you think they’re more seasoned and knowledgeable. Or, maybe you’d choose a younger one because you think they’re more up to date with modern treatments. Deciding between doctors can be tricky, but a recent BMJ study has elucidated a key difference in performance between younger and older doctors. The study—led by Dr. Anupam Jena of Harvard Medical School—took a random sample of Medicare data for more than 700,000 hospital admissions from 2011 to 2014, and found that doctors age 50 and above have higher patient mortality rates than doctors under age 50. The results are summarized in the table below: Doctor age range Patient mortality rate 40 and under 10.8% 40-49 11.1% 50-59 11.3% 60 and above 12.1% The differences are small, but they’re meaningful. The study controlled for a number of factors, including the possibility that the sickest patients were assigned to older physicians on any given day. Jena suggests that older doctors have worse outcomes because they’re less up to date with the newest medical technologies. “There’s a fear that as doctors get further away from residency, they might be out of touch with new technologies and treatments,” Jena told STAT news. Studies support Jena’s claim—a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that over half of...

Don’t Get Sick: Four Pet Diseases To Watch For

With diligent care and cleaning of your pets, along with regular checkups at the vet’s office, it’s pretty unlikely that you would contract a disease from your pet. However, all animals are potential carriers of zoonotic diseases. Here are four pet diseases to watch for: Cats – Toxoplasmosis You could contract this parasite from your cat if you aren’t careful to wash your hands after cleaning out your kitty’s litterbox. Although an estimated 60 million people in the US carry the Toxoplasma parasite, most don’t show symptoms. However, in pregnant women and those with compromised immunity, Toxoplasma could cause serious health problems. Tips from the CDC to avoid bringing toxoplasmosis home include changing the litterbox daily, keeping your cat indoors and feeding cats canned or dried commercial food or well-cooked meats – not raw or undercooked food. Dogs – Bubonic Plague While you can’t get the plague directly from Fido, you could get it from one of his fleas, if that flea is carrying the bacterium Yersinia pestis. In humans, the Bubonic Plague can cause headache, chills, fever, weakness and swollen lymph nodes. Treat promptly with antibiotics, and make sure you keep your pets free of fleas. Cases of Bubonic Plague are very rare, with only about 7 reported cases per year in the US. Birds – Parrot Fever Parrot Fever, or Psittacosis, comes from infection from the bacteria...