This January as the snow flurries begin to fall, the risk of heart attack among older Americans may be on the rise. The onset of colder weather results in peaks in general practitioner visits, hospital admissions, and cardiovascular deaths among those age 65 and older. A study published online in the British Medical Journal reported each 1.8 degree Fahrenheit reduction in average daily temperature was associated with a cumulative 2% increase in risk of heart attack over a 28-day period, with the highest risk reported within two weeks of exposure to cold weather. Cold temperatures have been shown to raise blood pressure and protein levels that increase the risk for blood clots. In addition, strenuous activities such as snow shoveling are commonly performed as the temperature drops, which may attribute the increased risk of heart attack.
We are really excited at the Alliance to announce the addition of five new members to our Science Advisory Board including a prominent bioethicist, a world-renowned neurologist, a Nobel Prize winner in economics, a leading longevity researcher, and the only cardiologist to receive all four major cardiovascular research awards. Our Science Advisors are actively engaged in understanding the aging process, age-related disease, and the implications of an aging society. They offer us scientific insight, guidance, and expertise and help ensure that our health education and policy efforts meet the highest standards.
And the winner is…medical research? Just in time to avert a government shutdown, Congress passed a $1 trillion spending package on Friday. This bill will fund all of the government agencies through the end of the current fiscal year.
In a time where health care spending is sky-rocketing, where will the public draw the line? Evidence from comparative effectiveness research (CER) is increasingly being used in health-care treatment decision-making around the globe, yet there is still a lot to be learned about how the public feels and where they think the lines should be drawn.
This November, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) released its “Top Ten Medical Innovations” list for 2011, and five of those top ten show great promise for diseases of aging, including remote monitoring of heart disease patients (#6), clinical confirmation of beneficial long-term statin use (#4), the first ever FDA approved cancer vaccine (#3), a targeted T-cell therapy for late stage melanoma (#2), and an early detection imaging system for Alzheimer’s Disease (#1). Even more promising is the potential contribution all five could make to a greater understanding of the underlying biology which could lead to discoveries across the diseases of aging.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over the age of 65. Until relatively recently, people diagnosed with AMD faced an almost certain road of progressively worsening vision. For many, that road led to legal blindness. Thanks to new drugs, much of the vision loss from wet AMD can now be prevented—or at least slowed. In many cases, it can even be reversed.
The Washington Post has an interesting graphic in the newspaper today on the effects of aging on the brain. Highlighting recent research that shows the synapses are what deteriorate as we age – and not the brain’s cells, as previously thought – the Post explains how memories are formed, where decisions are made, and why the prefrontal cortex is so susceptible to the effects of aging. The Post also suggests some new therapies to aid in the regeneration of brain function, including estrogen replacement therapies for women, increased interaction with others, and making sure older people sleep better. For more tips to keep your brain healthy, check out the Alliance for Aging Research’s Brain Health Corner.
New Competition from the X Prize Foundation Aimed at the Genomes of Centenarians
The Archon Genomics X Prize Presented by medco® offers $10 million to the first team of researchers that can quickly and affordably sequence 100 genomes—of people at least 100 years old that is!