Billions of dollars spent on Alzheimer’s Disease research have produced no big bang results, but new research on a possible Alzheimer’s vaccine is making a lot of noise.
There’s little doubt about this: Researchers at the University of Texas have found a way to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight plaques and tau protein tangles in the brain.
Amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles are typical in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. They are thought to block and destroy brain nerve connections.
Researchers, led by Roger N. Rosenberg, showed that in studies on mice, his DNA-based treatment reduced amyloid plaques by 40 percent and tangles by 50 percent.
But does this prevent Alzheimer’s or improve cognition in existing patients? That is the question scientists and patients are eager to find out.
Rosenberg told BeingPatient.com that they are testing subject mice now for evidence of improved cognition.
This research does address the leading theory of Alzheimer’s Disease: Keep amyloid low and avoid Alzheimer’s.
Some research has shown that some people with high amyloid do not get Alzheimer’s, suggesting that amyloid is not the only factor at play in Alzheimer’s.
If the theory of the UT research is correct, it does lead to a possible route to prevent Alzheimer’s. The idea is that such a vaccine could delay onset of Alzheimer’s, slow the rate of progression, or prevent the disease.
However, amyloid plaques, along with associated inflammation, destroy nerve connections in the brain. Those nerves won’t come back. So the focus is on developing treatments — or a vaccine — that work long before the disease reaches critical stages, according to Time.
The vaccination triggers skin cells to produce a chain of amyloid. Then the body’s immune system produces antibodies to fight amyloid and tau proteins. The body then has antibodies to fight build-up of the plaques and tangles before they devastate neural connections. It is administered as a shallow shot in the skin, not into the muscle.
Testing on humans has not yet begun. Researchers predict this vaccine could cut dementia cases in half.
About 36 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s Disease. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
Flavonols may slow cognitive decline
Higher dietary intake of flavonols — antioxidants found in tea, wine, and certain fruits and vegetables — may help preserve memory and cognitive abilities among older people, according to a new study published in the journal Neurology.
Researchers followed 961 study participants whose ages ranged from 60 to 100 years old for an average of 6.9 years, tracking their intake of flavonols called quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, and isorhamnetin. None of the participants showed symptoms of dementia at the beginning of the study, and all participants underwent annual cognitive and memory assessments.
The study conclusion: People whose diets were highest in flavonols, particularly kaempferol, displayed measurably slower rates of cognitive decline than those who consumed flavonols in lower quantities. You can find kaempferol in apples, grapes, tomatoes, green tea, and several types of berries, among other foods.
Though the results are promising, researchers aren’t jumping to conclusions or recommending flavonol supplements yet, according to CNN. Flavonol-rich diets typically include larger quantities of fruits and vegetables, which provide an array of health benefits. More research is needed to determine whether the cognitive benefits directly resulted from flavonol consumption or due to healthy diets and other factors.
Still, a few extra daily servings of flavonol-rich foods, like leafy greens or berries, are unlikely to hurt you, and the benefits may be greater than we know.
How to choose the right multivitamin
Multivitamins contain a combination of at least three vitamins. Some also contain minerals like calcium and iron and natural substances like omega-3s. Do you have a health concern or feel the need to supplement your diet with a multivitamin? Here’s how to choose the best one for you.
• Age. Your nutrient needs vary according to several factors, including your age. Consequently, children, adults, and seniors require different multivitamins. For example, formulas for seniors contain higher doses of calcium to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
• Gender. Women should look for a multivitamin high in iron to replenish what the body loses during menstruation. Moreover, women wanting to conceive a child, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding should consider a multivitamin with folic acid.
• Dose. The doses of vitamins and minerals and the number of tablets to take daily can vary considerably from one product to another. Moderation is best. Avoid formulas that contain a higher dose than you need.
It’s best to consult your doctor or pharmacist before buying a multivitamin.
What you need to know about anticoagulants
Anticoagulants are medications that prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and other conditions. Here’s what you need to know if you’ve been prescribed a blood thinner.
• Take blood thinners as instructed. Blood thinners are usually prescribed for at least three to six months. It’s important to follow your treatment plan to ensure its effectiveness. If in doubt, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
• Follow all recommendations. This includes how often you take your blood thinners and visit your doctor for follow-ups. Failing to follow the guidance of your healthcare providers can affect your treatment’s effectiveness.
• Beware of bleeding. Anticoagulants thin the blood, increasing the severity of bleeding, especially if you’re inju¬red. Familiarize yourself with the signs of internal bleeding and inform your healthcare providers of your treatment plan. If you have any issues, call 911 right away.
• Watch what substances you consume. Many over-the-counter medications, natural health products, and foods can counteract the effects of your treatment. Ask your pharmacist for advice before buying a new drug, and keep a list of foods and beverages to avoid.
If you have questions about taking blood thinners, contact a healthcare professional in your area.
New Year, New You: Tips for a healthy start to 2023
The beginning of a new year symbolizes a fresh start and, for many of us, it provides a renewed focus on our overall health and wellbeing. That’s why so many of us set New Year’s resolutions intended to improve our wellness. Turning the page on the calendar gives us a chance to turn the page on old unhealthy habits, commit to being better, healthier versions of ourselves and look to the future with hope for what’s to come. Living a healthier life can reduce your risk of illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer; and it can help to boost your energy, sharpen your memories and stabilize your mood, leading to a noticeable improvement in your overall health.
If you have intentions of leading a healthier life this year, you are not alone. We asked our Primary and Specialty Care professionals what their top three recommendations are to stay healthier, longer.
Kearn Ghuman, DO
Fauquier Health Primary & Specialty Care at Lake Manassas
- Pack a gym bag the night before. Packing a gym bag and taking it to work with you is a simple way to encourage yourself to go to the gym before or right after work. Let’s be real – work and life can get hectic and busy, especially around the holiday season. After a long day, depending on your schedule, you may not have the energy to work out. That’s why early morning workouts can be just what you need. They are a great way to get the blood flowing to your brain and will help you stay focused at work. Remember 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days a week is the goal!
- Put down your phone. This may sound simple, but it is becoming increasingly difficult. Disconnecting is a great way to mentally refresh. We need to remind ourselves to take a break in a world where we are always connected. That includes turning off the TV. Instead, grab a book, take a bath or shower, and take it easy for an hour before bedtime. Only use your bed for sleeping, that means no watching TV or reading in bed. Optimizing your sleep hygiene will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep during the night.
- Meal planning. Meal planning for the week during the weekend is a great way to stay on track for a healthy diet. You can find easy recipes online, for example Mayo Clinic Diet online offers some sample menus and meal plans. Don’t forget, balance in your diet is important!
Hasina Hamid, MD
Fauquier Health Primary & Specialty Care at Lake Manassas
Piedmont Internal Medicine, Warrenton
- Drink more water. Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day. If you engage in regular physical exercise, you may need more water to stay hydrated. Sports drinks can be helpful to replace salts and provide some sugar if you are especially active. Sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages are a big source of extra sugar. Cut them out. Find alcohol-free drinks, mocktails, that you can make. By cutting out alcohol, you’ll cut out a lot of empty calories. You can also choose water, tea, coffee, or other unsweetened beverages.
- Prioritize your sleep hygiene. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of U.S. adults say they typically get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Poor sleeping habits can raise your risk for high blood pressure, increased stress, weight gain, depression, loss of motor skills and poor heart health. If you are having difficulty maintaining good sleep hygiene or are experiencing any of the symptoms of a sleep disorder, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment for you.
- Schedule an annual check-up with your provider. There’s no better time than the start of a new year to schedule your annual check-up or any other health screenings you may need. Annual wellness exams and recommended health screenings give you and your provider the opportunity to catch health issues before they become serious and avoid any potential complications that arise from delaying care. Scheduling your annual check-up or screening is also a great way to stay on top of things like recommended immunizations and any other needed procedures.
Jenna Wong, DO
Fauquier Health Primary & Specialty Care at Lake Manassas
- Be realistic. As we kick off the New Year, you may reflect and decide to make some changes. Make sure you are making realistic lifestyle changes. Keep in mind, crash diets will make you more likely to yo-yo in weight and overall health.
- Be specific. Set specific, concrete goals for yourself. For example, “I will lift weights for X minutes, X times per week and jog for X minutes, X times per week.” Another great example to help mentally prepare you for each day would include, “I will meditate every morning when I wake up for X minutes, X times per week.”
- Food pyramid 101. As children we learned about the food pyramid and how many servings of which food to strive for daily. Then as adults, we tend to lose sight of that. I recommend you strive to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Change your mindset to focus on incorporating nutrients, rather than focusing on the avoidance of unhealthy, “yummy” foods.
If you need a primary care provider, Fauquier Health can help. Call 540.316.DOCS or visit the Find a Provider tab at FauquierHealth.org to get connected with quality care today.
Air travel tips: flu season
Are you planning to fly during flu season? Here are some helpful tips to avoid contracting or spreading the virus when you take to the skies.
• Maintain impeccable hand hygiene. This applies both on and off the plane. Sinks aren’t always accessible. Therefore, keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your carry-on luggage or purse is a good idea.
• Avoid borrowing potentially contaminated items. Avoid asking for a pillow or blanket on the plane. Other people with the flu may have used these items. Instead, bring your own pillow, blanket, or travel kit.
• Stay hydrated. You’re more vulnerable to infection if your nose and throat are dry. Drink water or fruit juice fortified with vitamin C, or chew sugar-free gum to keep your mouth moist.
• Be respectful of others. If you’re sick and cannot postpone your trip, take steps to protect other passengers. For example, disinfect your hands often, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (or, better yet, wear a surgical mask) and touch as few surfaces as possible.
Depending on where you’re going, you may need to visit a travel health clinic a few weeks before you leave to get the appropriate vaccinations and purchase health insurance. Enjoy your trip!
How to get medical cannabis
Medical cannabis effectively treats the symptoms of many diseases and conditions, including arthritis, anxiety, migraines, epilepsy, and fibromyalgia. Medical cannabis use is now legal in 37 states. Here’s how to get a medical cannabis card if medical cannabis is legal in your state.
Make an appointment with a professional.
Schedule a consultation with your family doctor to discuss your request. They’ll determine if your condition requires the use of medicinal cannabis and discuss any possible risks or side effects.
Sign up for the cannabis registry.
In most cases, you must sign up for your state’s medical cannabis registry by creating an online account and uploading your doctor’s approval. You’ll likely have to pay a fee to receive a medical cannabis card.
Find an authorized dispensary.
Once you have your medical cannabis card, you can visit a licensed dispensary in your state to purchase medical cannabis.
In most states, medical cannabis cards are only valid for a specific period. Keep track of your card’s expiration date and familiarize yourself with your state’s renewal process.
If you have any questions, talk to your family doctor or one specializing in medical cannabis.