Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Health Articles, 08-19-12

Blood Types and Heart Disease? Is there a connection?

Blood Type May be a Risk Factor for Heart Disease
The thought of having a heart disease is more than enough to stress an individual. But what if you find out that your blood type may also put you at risk of developing heart problems?

A group of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston reviewed 20-year data from two large studies involving adult participants and found a link between blood type and the risk of developing heart disease. Compared to people with blood type O, those whose blood type is AB are found to have 23% increased risk for heart disease while those with type B had an 11% increased risk. Individuals with blood type A have 5% risk for heart disease.

While the researchers did not delve into the mechanisms that cause blood type to affect heart disease risk, evidence from other studies revealed some clues.

Blood type AB, the rarest blood type, is linked to inflammation which can affect how blood vessels work. Blood type A has been associated with higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as the “bad” cholesterol, that clogs up arteries. Meanwhile, people with blood type O have higher levels of a compound that has a beneficial effect on blood flow and clotting.

But despite the findings, the researchers noted that a healthy lifestyle still play a significant role in protecting people with the higher risk blood types.

So if you are vulnerable to developing heart diseases based on several different factors, including family history, race, age, obesity, stress, or blood type as the recent study suggests, it’s about time you start making some healthy adjustments in your lifestyle.

Does Keen Attention and More Neurons = a more youthful brain?

Probing The Youthful Brains of ‘SuperAgers’
A Northwestern University researcher has identified an elite group of elderly people age 80 and older whose memories are as sharp as people 20 to 30 years younger than them.

Emily Rogalski, Ph.D., who dubbed these seniors “SuperAgers,” said that on 3-D MRI scans, their brains appear as young as the brains of middle-aged people.


“These findings are remarkable given the fact that grey matter or brain cell loss is a common part of normal aging,” said Rogalski, an assistant research professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

By identifying older people who seem to be protected from the deterioration of memory and atrophy of brain cells that accompanies aging, Rogalski hopes to unlock the secrets of their youthful brains so those secrets can be used to protect others from memory loss or even Alzheimer’s disease.

“By looking at a really healthy older brain, we can start to deduce how SuperAgers are able to maintain their good memory,” Rogalski said. “Many scientists study what’s wrong with the brain, but maybe we can ultimately help Alzheimer’s patients by figuring out what goes right in the brain of SuperAgers.”

“What we learn from these healthy brains may inform our strategies for improving quality of life for the elderly and for combatting Alzheimer’s disease.”

Measuring the thickness of the cortex gives her a a sense of how many brain cells are left, Rogalski explained.

“We can’t actually count them, but the thickness of the outer cortex of the brain provides an indirect measure of the health of the brain,” she said. “A thicker cortex suggests a greater number of neurons.”

The study also found that in SuperAgers, another region deep in the brain, the anterior cingulate, was actually thicker than in the 50 to 65 year olds.

“This is pretty incredible,” Rogalski said. “This region is important for attention. Attention supports memory. Perhaps the SuperAgers have really keen attention and that supports their exceptional memories.”

Only 10 percent of the people who “thought they had outstanding memories” met the criteria for the study, she noted. To be defined as a SuperAger, the participants needed to score at or above the norm of the 50 to 65 year olds on memory screenings, she said.

“These are a special group of people,” Rogalski said. “They aren’t growing on trees.” [...]

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