US elderly have better mental function than those in UK


US elder have better cognitive function compared to their counterparts of the same age in the UK, according to a joint UK-US study.

The researchers said that mental function of the US elder was better despite the greater incidence of cardiovascular disease risk factors, which was managed better in the US with drugs.

They said: “Cognitive function is a key determinant of independence and quality of life among older adults. Compared to adults in England, US adults have a greater prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and disease that may lead to poorer cognitive function.

“We compared cognitive performance of older adults in the US and England, and sought to identify sociodemographic and medical factors associated with differences in cognitive function between the two countries.”

The esearcher was carried out at Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Cambridge,UK; Epidemiology and Public Health, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, UK; Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

They studied 13,566 ethnic white individuals over the age of 60, beginning in 2002.

They found that adults in the UK were economically poorer and suffered more from depression than the US adults, where more money is spent on healthcare and also managing symptoms associated with impaired cognitive function, such as high-blood pressure, with drugs. US adults were also better educated.

The researchers concluded: “We found that despite a higher prevalence of cardiovascular risks and cardiovascular disease among older US adults, they performed significantly better than their English counterparts on tests of memory, suggesting an advantage in cognitive health in the United States.

“While we were unable to confidently identify thecause or causes of this US advantage, higher levels of education and wealth, lower levels of depressive symptoms, and more aggressive treatment of cardiovascular risks
such as hypertension, may be important contributing factors. Given the growing number of older adults worldwide, future cross-national studies aimed at identifying the medical and social factors that might prevent or delay cognitive decline in older adultswould make important and valuable contributions to public health.

Read the full study at Full Paper

Blood pressure drugs help cut Alzheimer’s risk

Chicago: Drugs used to cut blood pressure has been shown to improve the risk of Alzheimer’s.

According to a new US study of angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs, which are normally prescribed as a second choice treatment to patients unable to tolerate ACE inhibitors, another class of blood pressure drug, the results are dramatic.

Both drugs work by allowing the blood vessels to the vessels to relax and widen so more blood can flow through them, which cuts blood pressure.

Alzheimer’s is associated with high blood pressure, damaged arteries and amaloid plaques, a type of protein which attaches itself to the neurotransmitters in the brain.

In the new study, an Alzheimer’s conference in Chicago was told, six million patients treated for high blood pressure between 2001 and 2006 were examined by scientists.

Those taking ARBs were 35 to 40 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia than patients on other medications.

Patients already suffering from Alzheimer’s when they started taking ARBs had a 45 per cent reduced chance of developing delirium, being admitted to a nursing home, or dying prematurely during the period of the study.

Those who had experienced strokes before or during the course of their illness appeared to benefit most from the drugs.

Study leader Professor Benjamin Wolozin, of Boston university medical school, said: ‘For those who already have dementia, use of ARBs might delay deterioration of brain function and help keep patients out of nursing homes. The study is particularly interesting because we compared the effects of ARBs to other medications used for treating blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.’

Alzheimer’s Disease is affecting more and more older adults as people live longer.

Salt blamed for high blood pressure in 4-year-olds

London: Toddlers as young ad four years, are suffering from raised blood pressure because they are eating too many salty processed foods, UK researchers say.

Campaigners claim this puts youngsters at an increased risk of hypertension in later life – potentially leading to heart disease, strokes and an early death.

The study, published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, was conducted by St George’s University Hospital in London, drew a direct correlation between the level of salt in the diet of children aged between four and 18 and higher blood pressure.

The findings will heap pressure on heart attacks and strokes could be prevented if Britons cut salt intake the manufacturers of children’s snacks and ready meals to reduce the salt levels in their recipes.

A single packet of instant noodles can contain more than the recommended daily maximum salt intake for a child aged four to six.

Just one pack of salt and vinegar crisps is likely to have more than a quarter of a child’s salt quota.

The study looked at the salt intake for more than 1,600 children and teenagers over seven days and then measured their blood pressure.

The study found that for each extra gram of salt eaten by the participants, there was a related 0.4mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure.

Children’s increasingly salty diets are also a source of concern because our food tastes are largely set in childhood. Consequently, those who develop a love of salty food when young tend to keep it in adulthood.

The UK Government experts recommend that children aged four to six should not be eating more than 3g of salt a day, while the figure for youngsters aged seven to ten is 5g.

However, many children are thought to be regularly consuming 9-10g of salt a day, which is up to three times the recommended maximum.

This pattern continues into adult life, when the recommended maximum is 6g of salt a day, but the average for men is 10.2g and 7.2g for women.

One of the study’s authors, Professor Graham MacGregor, said: ‘We know that salt acts as a chronic long-term toxin, slowly putting up blood pressure as we grow older.

“The rise in blood pressure is the major cause of death and disability in the UK.”

British scientists invent jab to end high blood pressure

London: A jab to control high blood pressure has been invented by British scientists.

A third of all adults suffer from high blood pressure which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Now Cheshire-based Protherics has created a vaccine, based on a protein found in limpets, which would require patients to have a three-jab course with a booster every six months.

The jab which has already been trialed successfully on humans is is a viable alternative to the current treatment where pills are given. The limpet protein in the new jab attacks a hormone called angiotensin which raises blood pressure by narrowing arteries.

Protherics is planning trials of an improved version of the jab, which is ten times more effective at stimulating the immune system than its original formula.

People who have tried it have suffered few side-effects, although one in ten did complain of a brief, flu-like illness.

A successful jab would guarantee its manufacturers a healthy share of the $24bn (£12bn)spent around the world annually on blood pressure medicines.

Ideally, patients would be given an initial course of three injections, with a week or fortnight between each jab. A booster shot every six months, or even once a year, would keep blood pressure low. The jabs will be offered privately rather than on the UK’s NHS public health service.

Another company, the Swiss firm Cytos Biotechnology is developing a similar vaccine using an empty virus shell to spur the immune system into action.

Zurich-based Cytos, which is also developing anti-smoking, obesity and flu vaccines, has already shown that its jab is effective at lowering blood pressure.

But the reduction was less than that achieved by tablets already available on prescription. Further trials are due to later this year.

In time, the vaccine may be given to ward off problems in young men and women with a family history of heart disease.

Various blood pressure tablets already on the market work by targeting angiotensin, either by cutting production of the hormone or by stopping it from working properly. But many people stop taking the daily tablets simply because there are no obvious signs that they are boosting their health.

Others give up after suffering side effects. Beta blockers, a major type of blood pressure pill, can cause fatigue, cold hands and feet, nausea, diarrhoea and impotence. They have also been linked to the risk of stroke.

Two drinks a day helps reduce blood pressure in men

Amsterdam: Two alcoholic drinks a day can help men reduce high blood pressure, according to scientists.

As well as the traditional methods of getting healthier body markets such as taking more exercise and cutting amounts of saturated fats and sat, a drink is also recommended following research carried out by Joline Beulens of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

This latest discovery adds to the mounting evidence that moderate amounts of alcohol are good for health. Wine, for example, contents anti-oxidants, that may have protective qualities and lead to a longer life.

Miss Beulens examined data on 11,711 men with high blood pressure and their incidence of heart attacks, heart disease and stroke between 1986 and 2002. During this period there were 653 heart attacks of which 279 were fatal. Every four years participants filled out a questionnaire including details of how often they drank beer, red wine, white wine and spirits.

The scientists found that the chances of suffering a heart attack were lower among men who consumed one or two drinks a day – one drink was defined as a single glass of wine or a single shot of spirits.

Men, however, are urged not to drink more as this increases blood pressure and heart attack incidence.
However she urged men not to have three drinks a day, as this increases their blood pressure and risk of an attack. ‘Our findings are not a licence to overindulge.’

“Walkman” that lowers blood pressure

A gadget which helps the user lower blood pressure without drugs, has been launched.

It looks like a CDWalkman, helps open up blood vessels that have become narrowed, causing a build-up of pressure. It works by changing and slowing breathing patterns, which lowers blood pressure.

The device is called Resperate and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The results of seven clinical trials were presented to doctors at a recent meeting of the British Hypertension Society.

The device works by picking up the breathing rate of a patient through a sensor worn on a belt round the chest.

Once the device has worked out the patient’s resting breathing rate, it creates an individual programme to guide it from, on average, 18 breaths a minute to ten, using calming music played through the headphones to encourage slower breathing.

Research has shown that just by making breathing slower and deeper, more oxygen is taken into the lungs and muscles surrounding blood vessels. If enough oxygen is not reaching these muscles they constrict, causing high blood pressure. Once the muscles relax, blood pressure is reduced.

Clinical trials of the machine revealed that ten breaths a minute brought blood pressure down to a safe level of 120/80. After three to four weeks, blood pressure should have reached a safe level. Patients then use the machine for 15 minutes three times a week to maintain this.

Resperate sends out two different-toned signals — one to tell the patient to breathe in, the other to exhale. As the exercise progresses, the tones the patient hears become longer, slowing down their breathing. Changes in lifestyle and diet are often to blame. Being overweight, eating too much salt and drinking too much alcohol are all factors

Dr William Elliott, a consultant at Rush Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago, has carried out several trials with Resperate and is impressed. ‘It is as effective at controlling blood pressure as some drugs.’

ï RESPERATE costs £199 and is available in the UK from”> or by calling 0870 350 1264

High blood pressure


High blood pressure can be a sign of other diseases such as clogged or weakened arteries. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force the heart uses to pump blood through the arteries and the capillaries around the body. The measurement of this pressure is a key determinator of health. The higher your blood pressure rate, the harder your heart has to work, forcing the blood through arteries which may have narrowed or become stiff. The strain of pumping the blood at high pressure can cause vessels to become clogged or to weaken, and this can lead to narrow blood vessels and clots which can damage the heart or brain. This is what doctors call essential hypertension. A safe level for blood pressure is 140/90mmHg (millimetres of mercury).

A small number of people have secondary hypertension, which means there is an underlying cause of their high blood pressure – problems with their kidneys or adrenal glands (which sit above the kidneys). These glands produce hormones that are important in controlling blood pressure. As well as causing heart failure and stroke, high blood pressure can also lead to kidney failure.

Those from a Black or South-East Asian background are more likely to have high blood pressure, as is anyone suffering from diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease. Blood pressure also increases with age and more for those over the age of 75. There are usually no symptoms so the only way to find out is to have a test. Doctors believe that even those with a healthy blood pressure should take steps to lower it further. There are home testing kits available.

Patients who are found to have high blood pressure will also be asked to take blood and urine tests and even an ECG, heart test. If no particular cause is evident patients will be asked to make changes to their lifestyles such as cutting down on salt intake, eating more fruit and vegetables, taking more exercise, loosing weight and cutting down on alcohol.

The two main lifestyle risk factors for high blood pressure are smoking and eating a diet high in saturated fats. Smoking causes arteries to narrow. So if you smoke and have high blood pressure, your arteries will narrow much more quickly. Saturated animal and some vegetable oils, such as palm and coconut oil, increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which can clog arteries. Coupled with hypertension, this puts you at a greater risk of heart disease and stroke. We should all cut down on red meat, avoid processed meat products such as sausages, pate and bacon, and eat low-fat dairy products.

Doctors usually avoid giving drugs but the medications for high blood pressure include: Diuretics – (water tablets) such as Thiazide Bendrofluazide, Chlorothiazide, Chlorthalidone, Cyclopenthiazide, Hydrochlorothiazide and Indapamide. These help rid the body of salt and water. Side-effects may include skin rashes, gout (do not take if you have gout) and impotence.

These tablets are often used with other tablets for blood pressure. Beta-blockers: such as Acebutolol, Oxprenolol, Atenolol, Pindolol, Bisoprolol, Propranolol, Sotalol, Timolol, Labetalol and Metoprolol. Beta blockers prevent stimulation of the beta adrenergic receptors at the nerve endings of the sympathetic nervous system and decrease the activityof the heart, relaxing blood vessels. Side-effects can include tiredness,sleep problems, cold hands and feet and asthma (don’t take if you have asthma).

Calcium-channel blockers: such as Amlodipine, Nisoldipine, Diltiazem, Verapamil, Felodipine, Isradipine, Lacidipine, Nicardipine and Nifedipine. These open up the blood vessels making it easier for the heart to work. Possible side-effects are swollen ankles, passing urine during the night (especially in men), swollen and bleeding gums, headaches, hot flushes and constipation. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: such as Captopril, Perindopril, Cilazapril, Quinapril, Enalapril, Ramipril, Fosinopril, Trandolapril and Lisinopril. These act on hormones help to open up the blood vessels.

Side-effects can include a dry cough and allergies, with swelling around the mouth and throat. Alpha-blockers: such as Doxazosin and Terazosin. These block receptors in the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Side-effects can include stress, incontinence in women and dizziness. Centrally acting drugs: such as Clonidine, Methyldopa and Moxonidine. These work through the brain to lower blood pressure. Side-effects may include drowsiness and nasal stuffiness.

For information and a free booklet on hypertension call the Blood Pressure Association (BPA) on 020 8772 4994.