Tuesday February 19, 2019

With Increase in Elderly Population, there will be rise in Dementia: Study

The World Health Organization estimates that close to 50 million people have been diagnosed with dementia, with more than half living in low- and middle-income countries

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Higher education to reduce risk of dementia, research suggests
An old lady,pixabay

US, Dec 29, 2016: As the elderly population continues to grow globally, the number of people who will suffer from dementia also will increase. The question is, by how much?

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The World Health Organization estimates that close to 50 million people have been diagnosed with dementia, with more than half living in low- and middle-income countries.

Although dementia mainly affects older people, it is not a normal part of aging. As researchers find out more about the causes of dementia, they are also finding ways they can help reduce its prevalence.

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For example, numerous studies show that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain. Physical activity and a healthy diet keep the heart pumping and blood flowing to the brain. Good blood flow keeps the brain functioning, and has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia.

Brains shrink with age, but studies cited by the Alzheimer’s Society of the U.K. showed that aerobic exercise not only increases the heart rate, but also enlarges the hippocampus, the key area of the brain involved in memory. In one study, a year of aerobic exercise by older adults proved to be the equivalent of reversing one to two years of age-related shrinkage.

Researchers also have found a link between higher education and a reduction in dementia. Studies continue to look at the way exercise, diet, social and mental stimulation, and other factors influence the development of dementia, Alzheimer’s being the most common form of this disease.

Dr. Kenneth Langa at the University of Michigan focuses his research on dementia. He was the co-investigator of a study of 20,000 adults in the United States over a 12-year period, and was the lead investigator of a supplemental study on the risk factors and prevalence of dementia in this group.

“We found that the prevalence of dementia declined significantly between 2000 and 2012, from about 11.5 percent down to about 9 percent,” Langa said.

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Langa attributes the decline in dementia to better treatments for high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity — treatments that keep the cardiovascular system healthy and lower incidents of stroke. He also says increases in education levels play a role.

In the U.S., education levels rose over the past two decades, according to data gathered by Langa. A larger percentage of people graduated from high school, and more people received college educations. Langa’s study showed that even a slight increase in the level of education seems to have an impact in reducing the risk of dementia.

“This suggests that a 75-year-old today has a lower risk of having dementia today than a 75-year-old 10 or 20 years ago,” he said.

But the numbers were still significant because of the large number of older adults.

“What we found was that for adults in the United States, ages 65 and older, about 3 to 5 percent of them who were 65 to 74 had dementia, and that went up to almost 30 percent for those who are 85 and older,” Larga said. “So almost one in three had dementia in our study.”

Even without a breakthrough in treatment, Langa says it appears there are things that can decrease the risk. However, he says, more work needs to be done to keep dementia trends declining.

Next Story

Study Reveals Shape and Structure of The Milky Way Galaxy

So our Milky Way's twists are rare but not unique, they said

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Earth is part of the Milky way galaxy. Wikimedia

The Milky Way’s disk of stars is not stable or flat but instead becomes increasingly “warped” and twisted far away from the galaxy’s centre, according to astronomers.

“We usually think of spiral galaxies as being quite flat, like Andromeda which you can easily see through a telescope,” said Professor Richard de Grijs from Macquarie University in Australia.

To understand, the team used 1,339 “standard” stars, each up to 100,000 brighter than our sun, to map the real shape of our home galaxy.

The new 3D map of our galaxy showed that the warped Milky Way disc also contains young stars and confirmed that the warped spiral pattern is caused by torque from the spinning of the Milky Way’s massive inner disc of stars, accordoing to the study published in the Nature Astronomy journal.

From a great distance, our galaxy would look like a thin disk of stars that orbit once every few hundred million years around its central region, where hundreds of billions of stars, together with a huge mass of dark matter, provide the gravitational “glue” to hold it all together.

Representational Image of Milky Way.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

But the pull of gravity becomes weaker far away from the Milky Way’s inner regions. In the galaxy’s far outer disk, the hydrogen atoms making up most of the Milky Way’s gas disk are no longer confined to a thin plane, but they give the disk an S-like warped appearance.”It is notoriously difficult to determine distances from the Sun to parts of the Milky Way’s outer gas disc without having a clear idea of what that disc actually looks like,” said Xiaodian Chen from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

“This research provides a crucial updated map for studies of our galaxy’s stellar motions and the origins of the Milky Way’s disk,” added Licai Deng, also from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Also Read- 2018 Fourth-hottest Year Since 1880; Earth Set to Get Warmer, Says NASA

Astronomers have observed a dozen other galaxies which showed similar progressively twisted spiral patterns in their outer regions.

So our Milky Way’s twists are rare but not unique, they said.  (IANS)