Tag Archives: cognitive impairment

Alzheimer’s disease connected to reduced pain perception

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia that causes problems in memory, thinking and behavior. After sufficient progression, those suffering from it can face extremely difficulty when trying to conduct even simple tasks. Now, a new study from researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville suggests that the disease might also hinder people’s ability to recognize when they are in pain.

Image credit Pixabay

Image credit Pixabay

The study spanned three years and examined two groups of adults aged 65 and older. One group consisted of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, while the other was a control group without dementia. Using a device to expose participants to various heat sensations, the researchers gathered self-reported pain levels from each individual and analyzed the results.

“We found that participants with Alzheimer’s disease required higher temperatures to report sensing warmth, mild pain and moderate pain than the other participants,” said Todd Monroe, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt’s School of Nursing and lead author of the study.

Interestingly, although the study found lessened pain recognition in those with Alzheimer’s disease, their pain tolerance remained the same as the control group.

“What we didn’t find was a difference between the two groups in reporting how unpleasant the sensations were at any level,” Monroe said. “While we found that their ability to detect pain was reduced, we found no evidence that people with Alzheimer’s disease are less distressed by pain nor that pain becomes less unpleasant as their disease worsens.”

The inability to detect pain can have a cascade of effects by allowing underlying health issues to go undetected and untreated, ultimately leading to serious problems in the body such as organ damage.

Since the researchers used participant reports to gauge pain levels, the neural mechanisms behind the changes in pain perception found in the study are still unclear. Further research is needed to better understand exactly how Alzheimer’s disease is connected to pain perception and how to help patients detect discomfort, especially when they begin to have difficulties with verbal communication

“As people age, the risk of developing pain increases, and as the population of older adults continues to grow, so will the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease,” Monroe said. “We need to find ways to improve pain care in people with all forms of dementia and help alleviate unnecessary suffering in this highly vulnerable population.”

Journal Reference: Contact heat sensitivity and reports of unpleasantness in communicative people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease: a cross-sectional study. 10 May 2016. 10.1186/s12916-016-0619-1


Poor cookware might be lead poisoning an entire continent


Photo: irisglobal.org

A study suggests that immense amounts of lead are being ingested in Africa, since extensive use of cookware made from recycled materials leaks lead into the food. This is the first time the extent of lead poisoning has been assessed. Results suggest that in some instances, as much as 200 times the threshold amount for lead poisoning is being ingested. The health hazards following lead poisoning are numerous, most notably causing cognitive impairment.

Better check that pot

The Ashland University researchers partnered with the Cameroonian NGO Research and Education Centre for Development (CREPD) to assess the damage of makeshift cookware, typically made from  recycled scrap metal; including car and computer parts, cans, and other industrial debris. The team analyzed 29 samples of aluminum cookware made in Cameroon and simulated cooking by boiling a mildly acid solution in each cookware for two hours.

The team found that a typical serving contained almost 200 times more lead than California’s maximum allowable dose level of 0.5 micrograms per day, and if that wasn’t bad enough, traces of aluminium and cadmium were also discovered to leach from the cookware.

“These locally made aluminum pots are the most commonly used in Cameroon and throughout Africa, so the lead levels we found are alarming and a threat to public health,” said Gilbert Kuepouo, Executive Director of CREPD and one of the study’s authors.

“This previously unrecognized lead exposure source has the potential to be of much greater public health significance than lead paint or other well-known sources that are common around the world,” added co-author Perry Gottesfeld.

Lead is a tremendously damaging substance and children are the most vulnerable to it because they’re developing and lead is foremost known for attacking cognitive functions. Studies have repeatedly shown that lead poisoning causes brain damage, impaired cognition, lower educational performance, and a range of other health effects. Perhaps the most famous example of how lead can actually influence a whole society is how crime rates in the US plummeted following lead gasoline ban. It may very well be a correlation fallacy, but truth is atmospheric lead does in fact severely affect cognition and by the looks of it, lead is poisoning a whole continent.

“Unlike some other sources of lead contamination, lead poisoning from cookware can impact entire families over a life-time. Even low-level lead exposures can result in reduced IQ and neurological deficits,” concluded Ashland University’s Jeffrey Weidenhamer.

There are no regulatory standards for lead in cookware but the Globe Wellness Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have determined that there is no safe level of exposure to lead.

“This previously unrecognized lead exposure supply has the possible to be of substantially greater public wellness significance than lead paint or other nicely-known sources that are common about the globe,” mentioned Perry Gottesfeld, executive director of Occupational Expertise International.

Recently performed surveys of lead exposures in Africa and Asia have recommended that blood lead levels have remained stubbornly elevated in spite of the ban on lead in gasoline in most of the planet. “The presence of lead in meals cooked in these pots may perhaps be a single contributing factor to the ongoing lead poisoning epidemic,” Gottesfeld said.

Findings appeared in the journal Science of the Total Environment.


Regularly exercising reduces risk of dementia by 40%

We’ve all read and heard about how exercise can dramatically boost our quality of living, but how many people actually take action? Very few. Less than 20% of Americans over the age of 18 meet the official recommended guidelines. This is really alarming, because what most people don’t know is that mild exercising has fantastic returns, similarly to the 20/80 rule – namely 20% of your input (energy) returns 80% of the output (health benefits). For instance, a study published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke found that regular exercising reduces the risk of developing dementia by 40% and all cognitive impairments by 60%. And this is just one of the many added benefits.

“We strongly suggest physical activity of moderate intensity at least 30 minutes three times a week to prevent cognitive impairment,” said Ana Verdelho, M.D., lead author of the study and a neuroscience researcher at the University of Lisbon, Santa Maria Hospital in Portugal. “This is particularly important for people with vascular risk factors such as hypertension, stroke or diabetes.”

The researchers followed 639 people between 60 and 80 years of age. Some 64% said they were active at least 30 minutes a day three times a week. This included gym classes, walking and biking.  The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise for optimal health.

[RELATED] Average obese woman gets one hour of exercise per year

Researchers performed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests at the beginning and end of the study to gauge white matter changes in the brain, an indicator of possible cognitive decline, in addition to surveying the participants asking them about depression, quality of life and performing everyday activities. At the end of the follow-up, 90 patients had dementia, including 54 with vascular dementia in which impaired blood flow to the brain causes cognitive decline, and 34 patients met criteria for Alzheimer’s disease. Another 147 patients developed cognitive impairment, but not dementia. This is the latest in a series of studies that show exercising promotes brain heath.

Besides better brain health, exercising has been found to increase bone mineral density by as much as 2 to 8 percent a year, reduce the risk of contracting heart-related diseases, better sweat response, higher oxygen intake capabilities and more – overall, exercise helps you live a longer and better life and it’s never too late to start!