Poor sleep quality may signal the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults, a study suggests.
People with Alzheimer’s tend to wake up tired and their nights become even less refreshing as memory loss and other symptoms worsen.
However, the reason was not fully understood.
The study, led by the Washington University in St. Louis found that older adults who sleep poorly or have less slow-wave sleep — deep sleep needed to consolidate memories and wake up feeling refreshed — have higher levels of tau — a toxic brain protein.
Tau has also been linked to brain damage and cognitive decline.
“Measuring how people sleep may be a non-invasive way to screen for Alzheimer’s disease before or just as people begin to develop problems with memory and thinking,” said lead author Brendan Lucey, Assistant Professor from the varsity.
Moreover, the findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that it was not the total amount of sleep that was linked to tau, but the slow-wave sleep, which reflects quality of sleep.
The people with increased tau pathology were actually sleeping more at night and napping more in the day, but they weren’t getting as good quality sleep.
“What’s interesting is that we saw this inverse relationship between decreased slow-wave sleep and more tau protein in people who were either cognitively normal or very mildly impaired, meaning that reduced slow-wave activity may be a marker for the transition between normal and impaired,” Lucey added.
For the study, the team studied 119 people aged 60 or older among which almost 80 per cent were cognitively normal and the remainder were very mildly impaired.
Up to two decades before Alzheimer’s symptoms of memory loss and confusion appear, amyloid beta protein begins to collect into plaques in the brain. Tangles of tau appear later, followed by decline of key brain areas. Only then do people start showing unmistakable signs of cognitive decline.
The challenge is finding people on track to develop Alzheimer’s before such brain changes undermine their ability to think clearly. For that, sleep may be a handy marker, the researchers said. (IANS)
The Coronavirus pandemic has left human race with feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and a fear what’s coming next. While we do our bit to stay safe, looking after our loved ones, particularly the elderly, is crucial.
In this crisis, just like the little children in the family, our elders also need extra care and attention, especially if they are living alone and are prone to feeling isolated. Coupled with the greater restrictions on the 60+ population stepping out, these feelings can negatively impact physical and mental health, and must be addressed promptly and with care.
In a chat with IANSlife, here are some ways suggested by Dr Ishita Mukerji, a senior psychologist at Kaleidoscope, a mental wellness centre part of Dr. Bakshi’s Healthcare.
Teach them to go digital: Patiently help them learn the use of various video/voice call applications available and encourage them to stay virtually connected with their friends and family. They can also use this time to rediscover their lost art of writing and share short heart felt notes via email, to their loved ones to lift their spirits. Demonstrate to them how to use taxi-hire apps, medical-monitoring apps, emergency call services, and the like. Hand them a copy of all necessary phone numbers and save them on their phones.
Prioritize their nutrition intake and physical activity: Senior citizens need adequate sleep, optimum nutrition and some kind of physical exercise on an everyday basis. Ensure that their sleep cycle is not disturbed due to the changes in the household because of the factors associated with social distancing. Their daily diet must have a combination of essential proteins and minerals, fruits, green vegetables, dairy products and a lot of liquid, as we are in the peak of summer. Elders might find it tough to exercise within the house, as many go to neighbourhood parks and yoga classes. However, you must help them incorporate at-home yoga and breathing exercises into their routine.
Enjoy recreational activities together: A good way to bond and enjoy as a family is watching a movie, listening to music, indulging in some craft activity, looking through photo albums together or playing indoor games like cards, chess, ludo, monopoly, carom etc or some mind stimulating games like Sudoku or puzzles. These activities will in turn make them feel relaxed, rejuvenated and something to look forward to each day.
Keep them engaged indoors: It is important to involve your family’s senior members in the household activities as much as possible. Their help in such basic activities will let them stay occupied and also give a sense of accomplishment to them but do not push them to perform strenuous activities. You may encourage them to pursue hobbies like reading, writing, knitting, singing or painting. Make sure they have enough supplies to last the crisis. Encourage them to teach young kids a skill.
Involvement in decision-making: We must seek advice and suggestions from the elders in our families at all times, especially when making decisions that might directly or indirectly impact them or their lifestyle. Taking their inputs into consideration will make them feel wanted and heard. It is really important to respect their thoughts and feelings that they derive out of their life experiences and wisdom accumulated over the years.
Create a positive environment at home: Getting exposed to the concerning news around worsening situation for longer durations can create anxiety and fear in seniors’ minds. Create a positive atmosphere and help them keeping calm and positive. Speak to them about their happy times. Revisit old memories, reopen photo-albums, listen to their life experiences and spend quality time with them.
Taking care of mental and emotional needs: Pay attention to the thoughts and concerns that the elderly might have as there may be big or small issues where they may need your help to solve them. Look out for mood swings too, as it might mean they are struggling mentally and need extra support and care. Also be aware of any cognitive difficulties they might be facing like being anxious, angry, stressed, agitated or withdrawn. It is very important to provide emotional support to keep them mentally and physically fit.
Hypertension is a chronic lifestyle disease and in the wake of COVID-19 situation, it has emerged as serious comorbidity especially among the elderly, say health experts. Lifestyle news always highlights hypertension as a serious co-morbidity.
Hypertension is a condition when a person’s blood pressure is consistently more than 140/90 mmHg. Often considered a ‘silent killer’ because it doesn’t manifest any specific symptoms and therefore goes undetected in many people, hypertension is the cause of many non-communicable diseases such as heart attacks, kidney failure, stroke and damage to the eyes.
According to Dr. P Venkata Krishnan, Internal Medicine, Paras Hospital Gurugram, its prevalence is widespread with different studies concluding anywhere between 33-50 percent of the population suffering from hypertension.
“Every third Indian adult has this disease. Its high prevalence makes all these people vulnerable to Coronavirus which may affect them more severely than those who are not hypertensive and increase the chances of death. Therefore, our aim should be to both check the number of new people who get hypertensive and help the hypertensive to manage their condition better. The disease also increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and blindness significantly,” states Dr. Krishnan.
“All this makes screening a must – anyone over the age of 35 years should get themselves checked for hypertension. Besides, right from childhood, people should be encouraged to live a healthy and active lifestyle with less sugar and fat intake and minimum 30 minutes of activity daily, says Dr. Manjeetha Nath Das, Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital.
Experts warn that hypertension can lead to severe health complications and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke if not taken care at an earlier stage. Once one hits 40, one needs to be extra cautious about one’s lifestyle.
“The age of 40 is a milestone, when our body begins to change internally and if not looked after, can lead to serious health complications. Lifestyle changes can help control high blood pressure. Daily lifestyle changes, such as reduced dietary sodium intake, weight loss, regular physical activity, and limited use of alcohol consumption, benefit not only elderly but also young patients with hypertension. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you might avoid dangerous events of life,” Dr. Tarun Sahni, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi told IANSlife.
People above 40 are at an increased risk for high blood pressure if they are chain smokers, overweight or eat a diet that’s low on produce and fiber and/or high in fat and salt, excessively alcoholic and live with chronic stress or don’t get much physical activity. Some causes of hypertension cannot be controlled — including your genes and your race, he adds.
Our lifestyle determines our levels of hypertension. But sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough. In addition to diet and exercise, one must be recommended to take medication to lower blood pressure. (IANS)
Researchers have revealed that inflammation in the brain may be more widely implicated in dementias than was previously thought. This is a health news.
Inflammation in the brain – known as neuroinflammation – has been recognised and linked to many disorders including depression, psychosis and multiple sclerosis. It has also recently been linked to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
For the study, published in the journal Brain, the researchers set out to examine whether neuroinflammation also occurs in other forms of dementia, which would imply that it is common to many neurodegenerative diseases.
The team recruited 31 patients with three different types of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). FTD is a family of different conditions resulting from the build-up of several abnormal ‘junk’ proteins in the brain. “We predicted the link between inflammation in the brain and the build-up of damaging proteins, but even we were surprised by how tightly these two problems mapped on to each other,” said study researcher Thomas Cope from University of Cambridge in the UK.
According to the researchers, patients underwent brain scans to detect inflammation and the junk proteins. Two Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans each used an injection with a chemical ‘dye’, which lights up special molecules that reveal either the brain’s inflammatory cells or the junk proteins.
In the first scan, the dye lit up the cells causing neuroinflammation. These indicate ongoing damage to the brain cells and their connections. In the second scan, the dye binds to the different types of ‘junk’ proteins found in FTD.
The researchers showed that across the brain, and in all three types of FTD, the more inflammation in each part of the brain, the more harmful build-up of the junk proteins there is. To prove the dyes were picking up the inflammation and harmful proteins, they went on to analyse under the microscope 12 brains donated after death to the Cambridge Brain Bank.