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Taking Your Body Where Your Mind Wants To Go

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New Drug for Alzheimer’s Holds Promise

Researchers working with mice have identified a drug they believe holds promise as a preventive treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.  In the study, the compound cut levels of amyloid beta — a protein associated with this degenerative brain disease — by about half, the researchers said.  Years before Alzheimer’s develops, amyloid beta starts to build up and clump in the brain. Scientists believe that helping the brain remove this protein in late middle age might ward off the disease.

Preventing Alzheimer’s may be more feasible than stopping it once it develops and damages the brain, the NYU Langone Medical Center researchers said.  “The key is to prevent the disease process from going that far,” said the study’s leader, Dr. Martin Sadowski, associate professor of neurology, psychiatry, and biochemistry and molecular pharmacology.  A treatment based on this compound, known as 2-PMAP, might thwart Alzheimer’s, the researchers said. They found that the compound enters the brain easily and specifically targets amyloid proteins, reducing the risk for certain side effects. Since it is non-toxic for mice, they suspect it is likely safe enough to be taken regularly by people over a long period of time.

“What we want in an Alzheimer’s preventive is a drug that modestly lowers amyloid beta and is also safe for long-term use,” Sadowski said in an NYU news release.  “Statin drugs that lower cholesterol appear to have those properties and have made a big impact in preventing coronary artery disease. That’s essentially what many of us envision for the future of Alzheimer’s medicine,” he added.

However, results achieved in animal studies aren’t necessarily duplicated in humans.  In conducting the study, published online June 3 in Annals of Neurology, the researchers screened a collection of compounds and found that 2-PMAP dramatically reduced the production of amyloid precursor protein — the “mother protein” of amyloid beta. In test cells, this lowered amyloid beta levels by 50 percent or more.  The mice involved in the research were engineered to have the same genetic mutations as people with a hereditary form of Alzheimer’s disease. After receiving a five-day treatment with 2-PMAP, the levels of amyloid precursor protein and amyloid beta in brains of the mice dropped dramatically.  Treatment over four months appeared to prevent the mental deficits usually seen in these mice as they get older, according to the news release.

The researchers said they are now working on ways to make 2-PMAP more effective.  Alzheimer’s is currently the most common form of dementia, affecting more than 5 million Americans. Prevalence of the disease is expected to triple by 2050 if effective preventive treatments are not developed.

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Ezekiel Emaunuel on the ADA

The last weekend in May, Minnesota Public Radio held the very first Top Coast Festival in conjunction with the University of Minnesota.  They brought in speakers from around the nation to talk about new solutions to some of the most vexing problems our country faces today.  My husband and I were lucky enough to be able to attend the Festival and hear some phenomenal speakers.  For those of you who were not able to attend, MPR began re-broadcasting all of the interviews the week following the Festival.

This is the second in a series of posts from the best of the Festival speakers.    Please take the time to listen if there are topics that interest you.  You are sure to be inspired!

Ezekiel Emaunuel, Vice provost for global initiatives and chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania spoke about the Affordable Care Act on Sunday morning at the Festival.  He made some really interesting points, including some great facts about preventive care, including exercise  programs which are right in line with our philosophies on healthy living at L2BH.

To listen to the interview, please visit

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Are You Dehydrated?

Nothing screams summer like a good sweat under the hot sun, but if you’re not replacing fluid as fast as your body’s pumping it out of your pores, you could be affected by sluggishness, cramped muscles or even life-threatening heat illness. How do you know if you’re in danger? We asked Douglas Casa, PhD, an exertional heat stroke expert and chief operating officer at the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, to pinpoint five dehydration symptoms to watch.

1. You’re extra thirsty

A dry mouth doesn’t automatically mean danger. But thirst is your body’s way of reminding you to reach for your water bottle when you’re on your way to becoming dehydrated, so don’t ignore the obvious.

2. You’re dizzy or fatigued

If you feel a rush of lightheadedness when you stand up quickly after sitting down to stretch, it’s a good sign that your body’s low on H20. Dizziness is caused by a decrease in blood flow to the brain. And when there’s not enough water in your blood, blood volume and pressure both drop.  What about feeling run-down? Well, virtually every cell in the body needs water to function, so when you’re lacking liquid, your body has to work extra hard to carry about basic functions, hence the reason for increased fatigue.

3. Your heart rate is out of whack

Caught your breath, but heart still racing? When dehydration decreases the volume of blood in your body, your heart speeds up as it attempts to pump out the same amount of blood it would if you were properly hydrated. (In other words, when you’re dehydrated, your heart’s hard at work maintaining your blood pressure.) If you’re extremely dehydrated and your heart really gets going (say, above 100 beats per minute), you may experience palpitations, which are essentially hiccups in your heart’s rhythm.

4. Your muscles are cramping

Ever notice that you get more muscle cramps during the summer months? When you are sweating , you’re not just pumping water out of your pores; your body’s also flushing out electrolytes likes sodium and potassium. Electrolytes are essential to proper muscle and nerve function, and when they’re off balance, it’s easy to end up with cramp or muscle spasm.

5.  Your urine is almost orange

One of the easiest ways to tell if you’re dehydrated, your urine will be clear or very light yellow. But when you’re dehydrated, your kidneys try to keep every last drop of water in your body and thus decrease the amount of pee that you produce. And the less water that your body has to flush out, the less water there is in your urine, and the more concentrated it becomes.

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Exercise is Key Element in Stroke Prevention for Women

Stroke typically affects women in their later years, but doctors are now beginning to focus on helping them cut their risk earlier in life.  This increased attention to risk factors in early adult years was recommended by new guidelines that were released earlier this year by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.  Those guidelines are now being phased into practice by primary care doctors, experts say. For women, that translates to more screening for risk factors during office visits and more interventions to ensure a healthy lifestyle to reduce stroke risk.  Stroke is a serious interruption or reduction of blood flow to the brain, women have unique risk factors.

Among them are the use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy after menopause, which both increase stroke risk. Pregnancy-associated disorders also may have long-lasting effects on a woman’s health and her stroke risk.  An estimated 6.8 million persons in the United States have had a stroke, 3.8 million of whom are women, according to the summary. Women have poorer recovery and worse quality of life than men after a stroke, the summary says.

And here’s what women can expect if their primary care doctor adheres to the new guidelines.  Your doctor will screen for high blood pressure. It is the most changeable risk factor, and it’s more common in women than in men.  Depending on your age, your doctor may screen for atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm, by measuring pulse rate and doing an electrocardiogram.  Your doctor may ask you about any history of headaches. Migraine headache with aura can increase stroke risk, and reducing the frequency of migraine should be the goal as a possible way to reduce stroke risk.

Depression and emotional stress also boost stroke risk.  The guidelines also recommend focusing on a healthy lifestyle that helps prevent stroke. These measures include keeping weight at a healthy level, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, getting regular physical activity and keeping alcohol intake moderate, if women drink.

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Keep Moving – Keep Arthritis Away

Walking the equivalent of an hour a day may help improve knee arthritis and prevent disability, new research suggests.  Because of knee arthritis, many older adults find walking, climbing stairs or even getting up from a chair difficult. But these study findings equate walking more with better everyday functioning.

“People with or at risk for knee arthritis should be walking around 6,000 steps per day, and the more walking one does the less risk of developing functioning difficulties,” said the study’s lead author, Daniel White, a research assistant professor in the department of physical therapy and athletic training at Boston University.  Every step taken throughout the day counts toward the total, he said. The key is to wear a pedometer and take up to 6,000 steps daily, he said.  “People usually average 100 steps per minute while they walk, so (6,000 steps) is roughly walking an hour a day,” White said. “It doesn’t seem to make a difference where the steps come from.”  For someone with knee arthritis who is just starting to exercise, White recommended setting 3,000 steps as a first goal.

Other guidelines recommend walking considerably more than this for good health, but White said he was looking for the fewest steps that would help these patients remain mobile.  The study, published June 12 in Arthritis Care & Research, tracked the number of steps taken over a week by adults who were at risk for knee arthritis or already had it. All used pedometers and were part of a large osteoarthritis study.  Two years later the researchers assessed any arthritis-related functional limitations. They found that for every 1,000 steps taken, functional limitations were reduced 16 percent to 18 percent.

Walking not only builds muscle strength and flexibility, it also helps reduce arthritic pain, White and other experts say.  Many doctors hear complaints from patients who say they can’t walk because their knees, hips or other joints hurt. However,  the less one moves, the weaker the muscles get, and the less stable the joints are, increasing inflammation and pain.  Sitting around also increases the risk of weight gain, which can adversely affect joints.

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Men Can Keep Osteoporosis at Bay with Daily Exercise

It’s a common misconception that osteoporosis only affects older women. In fact, men over 50 are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than to get prostate cancer.

An estimated 2 million men in the United States have osteoporosis, and another 12 million are at risk for the bone-thinning disease. Men who develop osteoporosis are also more likely to become disabled or die as a result of a hip fracture or another complication than are women.

Many of the same risk factors that affect women apply to men, too, but men also face some unique challenges when it comes to maintaining bone health and reducing their osteoporosis risk.

1. Age. “The main risk for male osteoporosis is simply getting older,” Dr. Drake said. “Beyond the age of 50, men begin to steadily lose bone at rate of about 0.5 to 1 percent per year.” Bone is constantly being removed, reabsorbed, and rebuilt in the body. This bone remodeling process is balanced, for the most part, until age 50. After that, he said, the amount of bone being reabsorbed into the body exceeds the amount being put back, leading to thinning, weakened bones.

2. Loss of testosterone. As men age, testosterone levels naturally decrease, and this likely contributes to the age-related loss of bone. “Because testosterone is the source of the small amount of estrogen we make, our estrogen levels decrease as well,” Drake said. “Estrogen is very important at the molecular level and affects the balance of bone-building and bone-reabsorbing cells.”

Drake added that part of the reason osteoporosis is less common in men is because they don’t go through menopause and the accompanying rapid rate of bone loss due to declining estrogen levels. Instead, men tend to develop osteoporosis about 8 to 10 years later than women. He said there isn’t much that men can do about the age-related decline in testosterone levels associated with bone health. Testosterone supplementation is not recommended unless testosterone levels are very low.

3. Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D play a critical role in bone health. Calcium is a mineral essential to building strong bones, and vitamin D helps the body absorb the calcium in your diet. Men older than 50 need about 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day. Good sources of calcium include milk and other dairy products as well as fortified orange juice and cereals.

4. Not getting enough exercise. Try to get in at least 30 minutes a day. Exercises that make you work against gravity, called weight-bearing exercises — like walking, jogging, basketball, soccer, and hiking — help maintain bone health. Your bones support the weight of your body during these types of exercises, which keeps them strong.  L2BH can provide you with lots more information on the benefits of exercise, particularly in the elderly!

5. Smoking. The use of tobacco is directly linked to decreased bone density.

6. Drinking too much alcohol. Overindulging can speed up bone loss. Drake recommended men drink no more than two alcoholic drinks a day to protect their bones.

7. Taking certain medications. Many common medical conditions and the medicines used to treat them can cause bone loss. Included are depression, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and drugs like steroids and some medications used to treat heartburn and cancer.

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Children Need Adversity

The last weekend in May, Minnesota Public Radio held the very first Top Coast Festival in conjunction with the University of Minnesota.  They brought in speakers from around the nation to talk about new solutions to some of the most vexing problems our country faces today.  My husband and I were lucky enough to be able to attend the Festival and hear some phenomenal speakers.  For those of you who were not able to attend, MPR began re-broadcasting all of the interviews the week following the Festival.

Over the next few weeks, I will provide you with links to some of our favorite speakers.  Please take the time to listen if there are topics that interest you.  You are sure to be inspired!

The first speaker I would like to recommend is Paul Tough.  Tough, a New York Times Magazine reporter about grit, perseverance and resilience in children. He’s the author of “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.”  In his discussion, he talked about the power of adversity in a young child’s life, both witnessing his/her parent(s) experience and cope with it, and having help learning how to deal with it in his/her own life.

To hear the full interview, please go to