Posts tagged: health facts

Death Rate From Alzheimer’s Disease Has Risen By 55%

Death Rate From Alzheimer’s Disease Has Risen By 55%
Death Rate From Alzheimer’s Disease Has Risen By 55%. Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Brain image Wikipedia (PD)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [1] have released very startling data about Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The morbidity rate from the neurodegenerative disease posted an astonishing 55% increase between 1999 and 2014. The CDC’s Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report noted that the death rate of people with AD rose from 16.5 to 25.4 deaths per 100,000 during this time.

Symptoms of AD include memory loss, impaired language, confusion, disorientation, and difficulties in decision making.

A fatal form of dementia, AD is now the sixth [2] leading cause of death in the U.S. Almost four percent of deaths in 2014 were attributed to AD which is also one of the top ten causes of death among people ages 65 years and older.

the report, written by Christopher Taylor, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, highlighted AD as a public health problem that affects both the patients and the people who provide care for them. Family members take on the difficult burden of caregiving in almost 25 percent of Americans who died from AD.

According to CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, AD is now affecting millions of Americans. The growing number of aging adults in the U.S. has made the situation even worse. One of the most basic risk factors or AD is age. As more baby boomers age, there is an inevitable increase in deaths from AD. Other factors that have contributed to the increase include greater diagnosis of the disease in its earlier stages, fewer deaths from other causes such as heart disease, and better reporting by physicians.

Recent data from the Alzheimer’s Association [3] revealed that more than five million Americans have AD. By 2050, Americans living with the disease are expected to rise three-fold.

For Keith Fargo, director at the Alzheimer’s Association, the 55 percent rise in AD deaths is just an adjusted number. He insisted that the death rate should be higher, 83 percent when the math on the unadjusted numbers is considered.

The 2017 study is commended for providing county-level rates for deaths caused by AD. The National Vital Statistics System [4] was the source of the CDC report which gathered state- and county-level death certificate data. Researchers identified deaths with AD cited as the underlying cause. Counties in the Southeast, Midwest, and West Coast registered the highest death rates. Forty-one states of the District of Columbia recorded age-adjusted rates of Alzheimer’s mortality.

The CDC stressed the importance of caregivers as AD progresses. The health agency pushed for programs that would benefit caregivers and patients including education about AD, construction of systems of care that suit the patients and their caregivers, and how AD patients could take care of themselves and their loved ones.

While the country has made great strides fighting HIV/AIDS and many cancers, Americans still have a pessimistic view about dementia. [5] Fargo believes that the eradication of AD could be made real if there is a commitment to research, primarily at the federal level.

Health experts are urging the U.S. government to push federal funding into Alzheimer’s that will not only help support families but also support research to discover a cure – which is nonexistent, as of this writing.

References:

[1] Taylor CA et al. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2017. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/pdfs/mm6620a1.pdf

[2] Hannah Nichols. 2017. Medical News Today. The top 10 leading causes of death in the United States http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282929.php

[3] Alzheimer’s Association. 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimer’s and Dementia https://www.alz.org/documents_custom/2016-facts-and-figures.pdf

[4] U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Vital Statistics System https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/

[5] Levvy B et al. 2016. Pschology and Aging. Negative age stereotypes predict Alzheimer’s disease biomarker http://psycnet.apa.org/psycarticles/2015-54839-001

Infographic photo sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alzheimer%27s_disease_brain_comparison.jpg

Nutrient Deficiency Facts

Nutrient Deficiency Facts
Infographic © herbshealthhappiness.com – photos lic under Creative Commons; see foot of article

When Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, he was absolutely right. This statement still rings true today: It is important to remember that food is not only a source of energy, but also a source of needed nutrients like vitamins and minerals needed by the body to function. When a person is malnourished or experiences nutrient deficiency, he or she can become sick.

Deficient Nutrients And Resulting Diseases

1. Deficient caloric intake causes Marasmus, characterized by severe weight loss and energy loss. [2]

2. Deficient protein intake (basic malnutrition) is typically caused by famine and causes a condition called Kwashiorkor, characterized by severe weight loss and a protruding abdomen. The fluid build-up in the abdomen is caused by deficient albumin, a protein that is responsible for maintaining capillary integrity. Without it, fluid leaks out of the blood vessels, causing the abdomen to enlarge. [3]

3. Vitamin A deficiency causes Xerophthalmia, a disease that affects the eyes and is characterized by night blindness, Bitot’s spots (dryness of the eyes and foamy accumulations on the inner lids), and damage to the cornea, either Corneal xerosis (corneal clouding) or Keratomalacia (softening and ulceration of the cornea). [4]

4. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency causes Beriberi disease, which is categorized into wet or dry. Dry beriberi is characterized by difficulty walking and decreased sensation and loss of function of the arms and legs. Wet beriberi is characterized by shortness of breath while sleeping, tachycardia or heart rate faster than 100 beats per minutes, and edema of the legs. [5]

5. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes a form of anemia called pernicious anemia. Vitamin B12 contributes to red blood cell production in the body and a lack of it can cause a decrease in RBC, leading to anemia. Because pernicious anemia is also characterized by destruction of the stomach cells, it is even harder for the body to absorb Vitamin B12. [6]

6. Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, which is characterized by collagen deficiency. The symptoms of scurvy include gum bleeding and swelling, joint and muscle pain, easily fatiguability, and red dots on the skin. [7]

7. Calcium deficiency can cause osteoporosis. Without enough calcium in our diet, our bones become very weak and brittle, making them prone to damage. A simple fall can cause a fracture if our bones aren’t strong enough. [8]

8. Potassium deficiency can cause cardiac arrhythmias, because potassium is an electrolyte responsible for regulating the heart rhythm. Hypokalemia or low serum potassium can cause the heart to slow and beat irregularly. [9]

Deaths Due To Malnutrition

Children are the most prevalent victims of nutrient deficiency. In the population of children under five years old, almost half of the deaths can be attributed to poor nutrition. That roughly amounts to 3 million children each year dying because of nutrient deficiencies. A child who is malnourished is extremely immunocompromised, making him or her prone to infections and inability to get well from a mild illness like a cold. [1] But malnutrition doesn’t only affect children. Excess and deficiency in nutrients can also cause illness in adults – from chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease to fluid and electrolyte imbalances.

References:

[1] UNICEF. Undernutrition contributes to half of all deaths in children under 5 and is widespread in Asia and Africa. http://data.unicef.org/nutrition/malnutrition

[2] Rabinowitz, S. (2014). Marasmus. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/984496-overview

[3] Scheinfeld, N. (2015). Protein-Energy Malnutrition. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1104623-overview#a0101

[4] UNICEF. Vitamin A deficiency: Xerophthalmia. http://www.unicef.org/nutrition/training/2.4/5.html

[5] National Institutes of Health (2012). Beriberi. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000339.htm

[6] WebMD (2014). Vitamin B12 Deficiency Anemia. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/vitamin-b12-deficiency-anemia-topic-overview

[7] National Health Services (2013). Scurvy. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/scurvy/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[8] Mayo Clinic (2014). Osteoporosis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/basics/definition/con-20019924

[9] National Institutes of Health (2013). Low potassium level. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000479.htm

How Alcohol Attacks The Brain

How Alcohol Attacks The Brain
How Alcohol Attacks The Brain. Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Photo © AdobeStock 45007360 (under license)

In low doses, say a few beers or a few shots of liquor, alcohol is a mild depressant. It causes relaxation and in others, even euphoria (or feelings of elation). However, these effects do not last, making way for the dreaded hangover – characterized by sensitivity to light and sound, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. The higher the dose of alcohol, the more likely a person is to pass out. [1]

Notice that all these symptoms are linked to the functions of the brain? That means alcohol directly affects the drinker’s central nervous system, specifically the system’s major organ – the brain. Symptoms worsen with more frequent and higher intake of alcohol.

You might have thought that after the hangover has gone, you are completely back to normal. However, studies have revealed that both long-term and short-term alcohol abuse can irreversibly damage brain tissue.

According to a study by Oscar-Berman and Marinković in 2007, [2] the parts of the brain that are most vulnerable to damage from alcohol abuse are the frontal lobes, limbic system, and cerebellum. As alcohol affects these areas, it interferes with the brain’s normal function. But the scary part is that these areas can shrink or become atrophied, causing mild to severe dysfunction which may or may not be reversible even after alcohol abstinence.

The Fontal Lobe

The saying that “alcohol lowers inhibitions” is absolutely correct! However the higher the alcohol content is in the blood, the more likely a person is to make poor and risky decisions – decisions that he or she may regret the morning after. This is linked directly to how alcohol affects the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for decision making and memory.

The Limbic System

Some people are strongly affected emotionally by alcohol – meaning they can become either very depressed or very euphoric when their blood alcohol levels get high enough. This can be attributed to the effect of alcohol on the limbic system, the area of the brain responsible for regulating certain emotions. Alcohol typically amplifies the strongest emotion the drinker is feeling – and in high doses, can cause severe depression.

Cerebellum

The cerebellum is the part of the brain that sits at the nape; it is responsible for balance and coordination. One of the most common characteristics of a drunken person is an inability to walk or stand up straight – this is because alcohol affects the cerebellum.

Alcoholism

In certain places in the world, alcohol is an integral part of a meal – like wine in Italy or beer in Germany. While drinking alcohol socially is not considered a problem and can even potentially have certain health benefits (relaxation and heart health from the resveratrol in red wine), the damage alcohol does to the brain has been studied and proven. But drinking too much alcohol can cause severe health problems, especially if a person drinks enough alcohol to be considered alcoholic. Alcoholics typically exhibit: (1) risky behavior (2) depression, and (3) poor motor control – all indicative of damage to the frontal lobe, limbic system, and cerebellum. [3]

Alcoholism is characterized by risky drinking patterns and behavior. Alcoholics are typically noted with aggressive and violent behavior, which worsens as time goes on. This condition is not only damaging to a person’s physical health, but mental and emotional health as well. It can also greatly damage a person’s relationships with others. [4] If a person has a personal or familial history of alcoholism or alcohol abuse, it would be better to avoid alcohol completely.

References:

[1] Hendler, R., et. al. (2013). Stimulant and sedative effects of alcohol. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21560041

[2] Oscar-Berman, M. & Marinković, K. (2007). Alcohol: Effects on Neurobehavioral Functions and the Brain. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11065-007-9038-6

[3] Harper, C. , et. al. (2003). Neuropathological alterations in alcoholic brains. Studies arising from the New South Wales Tissue Resource Center. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584603001556

[4] Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44358/