Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Repost] Active aging is much more than exercise

Active aging is much more than exercise

“30 years ago, the elderly were not expected to be active at all – they were actually advised not to exercise as it was considered dangerous. Playing cards were seen as a more fitting activity. Today, we are all expected to live active, healthy lives until the day we die – in good health – at the age of 90. Old age has, in a sense, been cancelled, says PhD Aske Juul Lassen from University of Copenhagen’s Center for Healthy Aging.

Aske Juul Lassen has just defended his PhD thesis entitled Active Ageing and the Unmaking of Old Age for which he has conducted field work in two activity centres for the elderly in Greater Copenhagen and analysed WHO’s and EU’s official policy papers on active ageing.

“I compare the EU and WHO perceptions of ageing with the everyday activities I have observed among the elderly. The elderly do a lot of things, which I consider active ageing and which give them an enhanced quality of life, but they are also activities that would never be characterized as “healthy” by health authorities. The question is how we define “good ageing” and how we organise society for our ageing generations.”

Billiards and beer can also be active ageing

One of the everyday activities Aske Juul Lassen observed was billiards: In one of the activity centres for the elderly, in which he conducted field work, 10-15 men between the ages of 70 and 95 meet to play billiards four times a week.

“Playing billiards often comes with a certain life style – drinking beer and drams for instance – and I am quite sure this was not what WHO and EU meant when they formulated their active ageing policies. But billiards does constitute active ageing. Billiards is, first of all, an activity that these men thoroughly enjoy and that enhances their quality of life while immersing them in their local community and keeping them socially active. And billiards is, secondly, very suitable exercise for old people because the game varies naturally between periods of activity and passivity and this means that the men can keep playing for hours. Not very many old people can endure physical activity that lasts five hours, but billiards enables these men to spread their physical activity out through the day,” says Aske Juul Lassen.

“We therefore need a broader, more inclusive concept of healthy and active ageing that allows for the communities the elderly already take part in and that positively impact their everyday lives, quality of life, and general health. It must also allow for the fact that the elderly do not constitute a homogenous group of people: activities that for some seem insurmountable will be completely natural for others.”

According to Aske Juul Lassen, one of the positive side effects of the activities at the activity centres for the elderly is that the activities take their minds off illness; they do not focus as much on their ailments when they are engaged in billiards or some of the other activities that the centres have on offer.

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Contact
Contact: Aske Juul Lassen
ajlas@hum.ku.dk
45-22-92-02-12
University of Copenhagen – Faculty of Humanities

Press officer Carsten Munk Hansen
Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen
Cell: +45 28 75 80 23

October 13, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] NIH funds research consortia to study more than 200 rare diseases

From the 8 October 2014 EurkAlert

$29 million awarded to expand NCATS’ collaborative Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network

Physician scientists at 22 consortia will collaborate with representatives of 98 patient advocacy groups to advance clinical research and investigate new treatments for patients with rare diseases. The collaborations are made possible through awards by the National Institutes of Health — totaling about $29 million in fiscal year 2014 funding — to expand the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN), which is led by NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

There are several thousand rare diseases, of which only a few hundred have any treatments available. Combined, rare diseases affect an estimated 25 million Americans. Some obstacles to developing rare disease treatments include difficulties in diagnosis, widely dispersed patients and scientific experts, a perception of high risk, and a lack of data from natural history studies, which follow a group of people with a specific medical condition over time.

“NCATS seeks to tackle these challenges in an integrated way by working to identify common elements among rare diseases,” said NCATS Director Christopher P. Austin, M.D. “The RDCRN consortia provide a robust data source that enables scientists to better understand and share these commonalities, ultimately allowing us to accelerate the development of new approaches for diagnosing and treating rare diseases.”

Many patients with rare diseases often struggle to obtain an accurate diagnosis and find the right treatments. In numerous cases, RDCRN consortia have become centers of excellence for diagnosing and monitoring diseases that few clinicians see on a regular basis.

These latest awards establish six new RDCRN consortia:

Consortium Name Lead Institution/ Principal Investigator Disease Areas of Study
Brittle Bone Disorders Consortium of the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network Baylor College of Medicine, Houston/ Brendan Lee, M.D., Ph.D. Bone diseases (e.g., osteogenesis imperfecta)
Clinical Research in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Related Disorders for Therapeutic Development University of Miami Miller School of Medicine/Michael Benatar, M.B.Ch.B., M.S., D.Phil. Neurological diseases (e.g., ALS, frontotemporal dementia, hereditary spastic paraplegia, primary lateral sclerosis, progressive muscular atrophy)
Consortium of Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease Researchers Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati/Marc E. Rothenberg, M.D., Ph.D. Food allergy disorders (e.g., eosinophilic esophagitis, eosinophilic gastritis, eosinophilic colitis)
Developmental Synaptopathies Associated with TSC, PTEN and SHANK3 Mutations Children’s Hospital Corporation, Boston/ Mustafa Sahin, M.D., Ph.D. Neurological diseases (e.g., autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities)
Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration Clinical Research Consortium University of California, San Francisco/Adam L. Boxer, M.D., Ph.D. Neurological diseases (e.g., corticobasal syndrome, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, frontotemporal dementia, primary progressive aphasia, progressive supranuclear palsy syndrome)
Rare Lung Diseases Consortium: Molecular Pathway-Driven Diagnostics and Therapeutics for Rare Lung Diseases Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center/ Bruce Trapnell, M.D. Lung diseases (hereditary interstitial lung disease, lymphangioleiomyomatosis, pulmonary alveolar proteinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome)
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To learn more about the six new and 16 continuing consortia as well as the DMCC, visit http://www.ncats.nih.gov/rdcrn-awards2014.html.

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To find out about specific clinical trials, and how to apply…
Go to clinicaltrials.gov

October 13, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] The mathematics behind the Ebola epidemic

The isolation ward of Gulu Municipal Hospital,...

The isolation ward of Gulu Municipal Hospital, Gulu, Uganda, during an outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in October 2000 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 9 October 2014 EurekAlert

……

“A major benefit of our method is that we can use it to calculate unreported cases and therefore the true scale of the epidemic,” asserts Stadler. Official patient figures only take into account those cases reported to the health authorities. The actual number of infected persons is generally significantly higher. Using the data made available to them, the ETH researchers were able to calculate an unreported case rate of 30% (i.e. patients of which blood samples were not taken). “However, this applies only to the situation analysed in Sierra Leone in May and June. We do not have any blood samples since June at all,” claims Stadler.

Virus family tree created

The researchers were also able to calculate the incubation period for Ebola (five days – this value is subject to significant uncertainty) and the infectious time. Patients can pass on the virus from 1.2 to 7 days after becoming infected.

…….

October 13, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] Human health, wealth require expanded marine science, experts say

From the 9 October 2014 EurekAlert!

In Rome, European experts publish a ‘common vision’ of priorities for marine research and action through 2020

Some 340 European scientists, policy-makers and other experts representing 143 organizations from 31 countries spoke with one voice today, publishing a common vision of today’s most pressing marine-related health and economic threats and opportunities.

In a declaration concluding a three day meeting in Rome, EurOcean 2014 participants also released an agreed, five-year roadmap to achieve expanded, more integrated and effective policy-oriented ocean scrutiny.

In addition to a rising tide of ocean-related threats to human health and economics, the conference statement points to major opportunities in such areas as marine biotechnology, offshore energy, and sustainable aquaculture to create much-needed jobs after one of the worst economic crises in recent history.

Making such “blue growth” sustainable, however, requires a greater investment in science —research to deliver knowledge, tools and advice on sustainable management of marine resources and a better understanding of ecosystems underpinning the maritime economy.

Demands on the seas for food, energy, raw materials and transport are steadily increasing, the statement notes. And while oceans “can provide solutions to many European and global policy challenges … (they) are neither inexhaustible nor immune to damage. In the context of rapid global change and human population growth, it is imperative to balance economic benefit with environmental protection and human wellbeing.”

“As a research community, it’s now time to reassess and reinvigorate our efforts to support these policy ambitions.”

Participants identified four high-level policy goals:

1. Valuing the ocean

Promoting a wider understanding of the importance of the seas and oceans in the everyday lives of European citizens.

2. Capitalizing on European leadership

Building on our strengths to reinforce Europe’s position as a global leader in marine science and technology

3. Advancing ocean knowledge

Building a much greater knowledge base through ocean observation and fundamental and applied research

4. Breaking scientific barriers

Addressing the complex challenges of blue growth and ocean sustainability by combining expertise and drawing from a full range of scientific disciplines.

 

October 13, 2014 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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