On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Jessica Lancaster, a Mayo Clinic immunologist, discusses aging and the immune system. Some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 because of their age or underlying health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Adults 60 and older and those with an underlying health condition or a compromised immune system appear to develop serious illness more often than others. This interview was recorded March 19, 2020.
Learn more about immune system research at Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayo.edu/research/centers…
From a Harvard Gazette online article (March 10, 2020):
There’s a symptom review, there’s a travel review, and there’s an exposure review. And if the answer to any of those questions is yes, then you’re asked to not come in. And so far people have been compliant and have left. So that is a good thing.
If you have a cough and a fever, if you’ve got respiratory symptoms and you’re short of breath, if you’ve traveled to a place of concern or if you may have been exposed to someone who did — especially if you’re symptomatic — then I would definitely ask, “Do I really need to visit my grandma today? Can I wait and can I Skype her? Can I do FaceTime?”
I know that’s hard for some of our older adults who aren’t technologically savvy, but maybe now is the time to get them hooked up. It really would be heartbreaking if, in wanting to do something positive for someone’s emotional or mental health, you ended up infecting them.
Harvard-affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife offers a continuum of care for 3,000 elderly people daily, with a range of services including residential assisted living, short-term rehabilitation, outpatient services, and long-term care for those with chronic illness. In a Q&A interview aimed at understanding the challenges involved, Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor Helen Chen, Hebrew SeniorLife’s chief medical officer, discussed steps the facility has taken to combat the virus and the outlook going forward.
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From a March 5, 2020 American Academy of Neurology release:
“These results are exciting, as they suggest that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of aging on the brain simply by becoming more active,” said study author Yian Gu, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Recent studies have shown that as people age, physical activity may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Our study used brain scans to measure the brain volumes of a diverse group of people and found that those who engaged in the top third highest level of physical activity had a brain volume the equivalent of four years younger in brain aging than people who were at the bottom third activity level.”
Older people who regularly walk, garden, swim or dance may have bigger brains than their inactive peers, according to a preliminary study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 25 to May 1, 2020. The effect of exercise was equal to four fewer years of brain aging. The study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to measure the brains of people with a range of activity levels, including those who were inactive to those who were very active. The scans showed less active people had smaller brain volume.
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On the Mayo Clinic Radio program, Dr. Derek Lomas, a Mayo Clinic urologist, discusses prostate cancer, including a new biopsy method.
This interview originally aired Feb. 22, 2020. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer — second to skin cancer — among men in the U.S. One in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society. Screening is important because early detection greatly improves the chances of survival. While some types of prostate cancer grow slowly, and may need minimal or even no treatment, other types are aggressive and can spread quickly. If prostate cancer is suspected, a biopsy can confirm the diagnosis.
Learn more about prostate cancer: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-c…
From a JAMA Network Open online release (February 21, 2020):
Across the 6 studies of 8699 participants, mean age ranged between 70 and 74 years and mean gait speed ranged between 1.05 and 1.26 m/s. Incident dementia ranged from 5 to 21 per 1000 person-years. Compared with usual agers, participants with only memory decline had 2.2 to 4.6 times higher risk for developing dementia…
Those with only gait decline had 2.1 to 3.6 times higher risk. Those with dual decline had 5.2 to 11.7 times the risk…
Impaired mobility, such as slow gait, is associated with an increased risk of dementia, but the effect size of this association is generally modest.1–6 Identifying persons who experience both mobility decline and memory decline, a main symptom in the early stage of dementia, may have a greater prognostic value in assessing risk of dementia because the combination could identify a group in whom gait speed decline is at least in part caused by neurodegenerative pathologic conditions of the central nervous system rather than local musculoskeletal problems, such as sarcopenia or osteoarthritis.7–9 A recent study of 154 participants with mild cognitive impairment reported that those who declined in both cognition and gait speed had the highest risk of dementia.
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From BMJ Journal “Gut” study (February 17, 2020):
We observed that increased adherence to the MedDiet modulates specific components of the gut microbiota that were associated with a reduction in risk of frailty, improved cognitive function and reduced inflammatory status.
Objective Ageing is accompanied by deterioration of multiple bodily functions and inflammation, which collectively contribute to frailty. We and others have shown that frailty co-varies with alterations in the gut microbiota in a manner accelerated by consumption of a restricted diversity diet. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is associated with health. In the NU-AGE project, we investigated if a 1-year MedDiet intervention could alter the gut microbiota and reduce frailty.
Design We profiled the gut microbiota in 612 non-frail or pre-frail subjects across five European countries (UK, France, Netherlands, Italy and Poland) before and after the administration of a 12-month long MedDiet intervention tailored to elderly subjects (NU-AGE diet).
Results Adherence to the diet was associated with specific microbiome alterations. Taxa enriched by adherence to the diet were positively associated with several markers of lower frailty and improved cognitive function, and negatively associated with inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein and interleukin-17. Analysis of the inferred microbial metabolite profiles indicated that the diet-modulated microbiome change was associated with an increase in short/branch chained fatty acid production and lower production of secondary bile acids, p-cresols, ethanol and carbon dioxide. Microbiome ecosystem network analysis showed that the bacterial taxa that responded positively to the MedDiet intervention occupy keystone interaction positions, whereas frailty-associated taxa are peripheral in the networks.
Conclusion Collectively, our findings support the feasibility of improving the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier ageing.
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