Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

City Living and Stress

Greater Tokyo Area, the world's most populous ...

Ginza Area at dusk. View from Tokyo Tower.This image was created by Chris ***

From the 23 June 2011 Medical News Today article

Brain activity and biology behind mood disorders or urbanites

Being born and raised in a major urban area is associated with greater lifetime risk for anxiety and mood disorders. Until now, the biology for these associations had not been described. A new international study, which involved Douglas Mental Health University Institute researcher Jens Pruessner, is the first to show that two distinct brain regions that regulate emotion and stress are affected by city living. These findings, published in Nature may lead to strategies that improve the quality of life for city dwellers.

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***http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ginza_area_at_dusk_from_Tokyo_Tower.jpg

June 23, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , | 1 Comment

USC: Active social, spiritual and physical life helps prevent health decline in seniors

Study shows small day-to-day changes can result in measurable improvements in quality of life

From a 7 June 2011 Eureka news alert

Small, healthy lifestyle changes and involvement in meaningful activities—going beyond just diet and exercise—are critical to healthy aging, according to a new USC study.

Guided by lifestyle advisors, seniors participating in the study made small, sustainable changes in their routines (such as visiting a museum with a friend once a week) that led to measurable gains in quality of life, including lower rates of depression and better reported satisfaction with life.

The study validates the current trend in public health strategies to focus on preventing illness and disability, as opposed to treating issues once they have already begun to negatively impact health, according to lead investigator Florence Clark.

“What is critical is that, as we age, we continue to be engaged in life through a sustainable mix of productive, social, physical and spiritual activities. This goal of prevention and wellness is really a key to health care reform, and results in cost savings to society,” said Clark, professor and associate dean of the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, and president of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

“The emphasis now is prevention,” she said. “There are non-pharmacologic interventions that work.”

The Well Elderly 2 trial was performed between 2004 and 2009, with the write-up appearing in the June 2 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Lifelong gap in health between rich and poor set by age 20

 

 

Study by McGill geography professor finds that as people age, the differnce in the health-related quality of life between rich and poor remains constant

From a 8 June 2011 Eureka news alert

 

“We can’t buy our way out of ageing,” says Nancy Ross, a McGill geography professor. “As we get older we start to have vision problems, maybe some hearing loss, maybe lose some mobility – ageing is a kind of a social equalizer.”

Ross is the lead author of a new study about how socio-economic and educational status affects Canadians’ health-related quality of life over the course of a lifetime.

“My research looks at how poverty and social disadvantage affect your health status. Our work was about using social circumstances as a lens to look at how people’s quality of life changes as they age.”

The good news, according to Ross, is that there is no sign of an accelerated ageing process for those who are lower on the social ladder. “The trajectories for declining health as people age look fairly similar across the social spectrum. That surprised me. I thought that there would be a bit more of a difference across social groups.”

But the bad news is that Canadians who are less educated and have a lower income start out less healthy than their wealthier and better-educated compatriots, and remain so over the course of their lives. “What we found, basically, is that people who are more educated and with higher incomes have a better health-related quality of life over their whole lifespan, and that these health “tracks” stay pretty parallel over time.

“The message there is that if you start out with a health-related quality of life deficit through early life experience and a poor educational background, it’s never made up for later on,” says Ross. “Poorer Canadians are in poorer health and they have lower life expectancy than their more affluent counterparts, and by age 20 the pattern for health-related quality of life as people age is already fixed.”

“We might speculate that universal health insurance and other social policies directed to adults and seniors have played a role in preventing accelerated decline in health-related quality of life of the poorer and less educated Canadians. That said, we would need some comparative research in other countries to test this more fully,” she adds. “But this study suggests the need for policies aimed at making sure kids and teens are given the chances early in life to even out socio-economic inequalities that will affect their health as they age.”

 

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Psychologists Say Well-Being Is More Than ‘Happiness’, UK

From the 12 April 2011 Medical News Today article

The British Psychological Society has welcomed the Office of National Statistics (ONS) programme aiming to measure the nation’s well-being. Responding to a national consultation (closing date 15 April) the Society commented that well-being amounts to more than mere happiness, and involves a wide range of personal and social domains. Psychologists also commented that positive relationships and a sense of meaning and purpose in life are crucial to genuine well-being.

The ONS consultation is part of an overall programme to develop new measures of national well- being. These are intended to cover the quality of life of people in the UK, the environment and sustainability as well as economic performance. The ONS is seeking views on what well- being means and how it is affected both for the individual and the nation overall. ..

…The full consultation response can be viewed in the Consultation section.

April 13, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Most ‘locked-in syndrome’ patients say they are happy

Most ‘locked-in syndrome’ patients say they are happy
A survey on self-assessed well-being in a cohort of chronic locked-in syndrome patients: happy majority, miserable minority

BMJ Open

From the February 25, 2011 Eureka news alert

Most “locked-in syndrome” patients say they are happy, and many of the factors reported by those who say they are unhappy can be improved, suggest the results of the largest survey of its kind, published in the launch issue of the new online journal BMJ Open.***

The findings are likely to challenge the perception that these patients can no longer enjoy quality of life and are candidates for euthanasia or assisted suicide, say the authors.

The research team quizzed 168 members of the French Association for Locked in Syndrome on their medical history and emotional state, and their views on end of life issues, using validated questionnaires.

Locked-in syndrome describes a condition in which a person is fully conscious, but cannot move or communicate, save through eye movements or blinking. The syndrome is caused by brain stem injury, and those affected can survive for decades.

In all, 91 people replied, giving a response rate of 54%. Around two thirds had a partner and lived at home, and most (70%) had religious beliefs.

There were no obvious differences between those who expressed happiness or unhappiness, but not unexpectedly, depression, suicidal thoughts, and a desire not to be resuscitated, should the need arise, or for euthanasia were more common among those who said they were unhappy.

Over half the respondents acknowledged severe restrictions on their ability to reintegrate back into the community and lead a normal life. Only one in five were able to partake in everyday activities they considered important.

Nevertheless, most (72%) said they were happy.

Only four of the 59 people (7%) who responded to the question asking whether they wanted to opt for euthanasia, said they wished to do so.

Among the 28% who said they were unhappy, difficulties getting around, restrictions on recreational/social activities, and coping with life events were the sources of their unhappiness.

But a shorter period in the syndrome – under a year – feeling anxious, and not recovering speech were also associated with unhappiness.

A greater focus on rehabilitation and more aggressive treatment of anxiety could therefore make a big difference, say the authors, who emphasise that it can take these patients a year or more to adapt to this huge change in their circumstances.

“Our data show that, whatever the physical devastation and mental distress of [these] patients during the acute phase of the condition, optimal life sustaining care and revalidation can have major long term benefit,” they write. “We suggest that patients recently struck by [the syndrome] should be informed that, given proper care, they have a considerable chance of regaining a happy life,” they add.

And they conclude: “In our view, shortening of life requests … are valid only when the patients have been give a chance to attain a steady state of subjective wellbeing.”

***BMJ Open ” is an online-only, open access general medical journal, dedicated to publishing medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas. The journal publishes all research study types, from study protocols to phase I trials to meta-analyses, including small or potentially low-impact studies. Publishing procedures are built around fully open peer review and continuous publication, publishing research online as soon as the article is ready.

 

BMJ Open aims to promote transparency in the publication process by publishing reviewer reports and previous versions of manuscripts as pre-publication histories. Authors are asked to pay article-processing charges on acceptance; the ability to pay does not influence editorial decisions.”

 

 

 

 

February 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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