Blog Posts

   email article Email   Print article Print

Health experts are talking about….

Health experts are talking about….

...slowing aging with intense workouts. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic recently discovered that a certain kind of exercise, called high intensity interval training, or HIIT, can slow or even reverse some effects of aging at the cellular level. HIIT is a type of aerobic workout that includes short, intense bursts of activity as part of a moderate to vigorous exercise session.

Researchers compared HIIT with other types of exercise in a group of young and older adults for 12 weeks. All of the exercise improved lean body mass—the proportion of the body that’s not fat—and insulin sensitivity. (Low insulin sensitivity can lead to a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity.) However, only high-intensity workouts improved a cell’s ability to make more energy and proteins. The study appeared in the March 7 edition of the journal Cell Metabolism.

The finding is important, according to Mayo researchers, because these cell functions decline as we age. We lose muscle mass and strength, and we feel the effects of age-related diseases like chronic inflammation. High-intensity training seems to stave off or reverse cell deterioration and it’s likely to have a similar effect on tissues. Researchers hope to use the study results to pinpoint specific interventions and exercise routines that can improve health and reverse age-related cell decline.

…how climate change affects older adults. Climate change impacts aspects of our environment crucial to our health, from the air we breathe, to the water we drink, to floods and wildfires affecting our communities. Older adults are among the most vulnerable to the health effects of climate change, say experts at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They are more likely to have chronic health conditions, have limited mobility, need help with daily-living activities, and are often highly sensitive to extreme environmental conditions.

Excessive heat increases risk of death among older adults, especially those already dealing with serious health issues. Some people may be more heat sensitive because they’re taking certain medications. Changing weather patterns are increasing the amount of dust, pollution and smoke in the air. This worsens respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, leading to more emergency department visits. Extreme weather also affects the mosquito and tick populations, increasing the risk of Lyme disease and West Nile virus, which can be a serious health threat to vulnerable older adults. Warmer winters are leading to more frequent storms and more severe flooding in many parts of the world, which impacts water supplies and sanitation.

Recent environmental marches have helped to renew attention to the serious effects of global climate change on health. Understanding and addressing the problem is vital for the wellbeing of the increasing, older, global population, according to the Stockholm Environmental Institute in Sweden. The institute is calling on policy makers to take swift and appropriate action “to encourage people to reduce their personal contribution to environmental change during their life course, to protect older people from environmental threats, and to [mobilize] their wealth of knowledge and experience in addressing environmental problems.”

…the health risks of headaches. It’s still unclear why some people struggle through debilitating migraine headaches. But it’s something chronic sufferers should discuss with their doctors, since there seems to be a link between migraines in men and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

While migraines affect more women than men, about nine percent of men report regular bouts with migraines. Researchers from the Harvard Medical School studied questionnaires from more than 20,000 men between the ages of 40 and 84. They found that the risk of heart attacks was 42 percent higher in those reporting migraines. Other studies confirm that the risk of heart attacks may be as much as twice as high for frequent migraine sufferers of both genders compared with those who are migraine-free.

People with migraines were also more likely to have other diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Researchers at Loyola University in Maryland suspect that migraine sufferers have more risk factors for cardiac disease or that there may be some underlying genetic link that puts them at higher risk for strokes and heart attacks.

The severity and frequency of severe headaches usually decreases with age, but migraines continue to be a problem for approximately 60 percent of sufferers over age 65. Others first begin experiencing them in middle age. This may be due to existing chronic conditions or the effects of prescription medications, but the later-onset migraines could signal more serious health problems.

Older patients need to be careful when using medications to treat migraines or other types of headaches, cautions Lawrence Robbins, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Rush Medical College in Chicago and author of Management of Headache and Headache Medications (2013). Robbins points out that some headache remedies may interfere with prescribed drugs or may affect other chronic conditions. Headache medications can also cause stomach irritation, insomnia or increased risk for cardiac problems.

the links between artificially sweetened drinks, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. Whether you prefer regular or diet versions, it may be time to rethink your beverage choices. Researchers from Boston University in Massachusetts found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke or dementia when compared to those who did not consume diet soda.

The researchers analyzed data from 2,888 people over 45 for instances of stroke and 1,484 people over 60 for reports of dementia. All of the data came from the ongoing Framingham Heart Study, one of the longest-running, multigenerational investigations into risk factors for heart disease, brain, bone and sleep health. Study results were published simultaneously in April in the journals Stroke and Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

We already know that high consumption of sugary beverages is linked to diabetes, which may increase risk of stroke and dementia. While diet soft drinks are often touted as a healthier alternative to regular soda, we don’t know much about the risks of artificially sweetened drinks for heart and brain health. After reviewing 10 years’ worth of data about participants’ diets—and after factoring in age, sex, education, diet quality, physical activity and smoking—scientists concluded that higher consumption, both recent and long-term, of artificially sweetened soft drinks was associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and, in fact, all types of dementia.   

These conclusions don’t mean diet sodas cause stroke or dementia, but that there may be a link between them. Scientists did not find the same link for sugary drinks like nondiet sodas and fruit juices. However, they did see a connection between people who regularly consume those beverages and a greater likelihood of poorer memory, along with smaller overall brain volumes and smaller hippocampal volumes—an area of the brain important for memory. Although the researchers suggest that people should be cautious about regularly consuming either diet sodas or sugary beverages, it is premature to say their observations represent cause and effect.

Post a Comment

Tags:   healthy aging 

   email article Email   Print article Print

Reduce font sizeReset font sizeIncrease font size
Change font size

Our Mission

The Silver Century Foundation promotes a positive view of aging. The Foundation challenges entrenched and harmful stereotypes, encourages dialogue between generations, advocates planning for the second half of life, and raises awareness to educate and inspire everyone to live long, healthy, empowered lives.

Notable Quote

"It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities old age is usually not poorer, but is even richer."

Cicero (106-43 BC)