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Brain Cell Burnout explains Parkinson’s disease

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Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that typically strikes as individuals age. It arises from the death of brain cells in a few areas of the brain, like the substantia nigra. The brain cells affected by Parkinson’s disease release dopamine, the chemical messenger that helps to regulate emotional responses, movement, and other functions. As the disease progresses, the levels of dopamine produced in the brain decrease and symptoms like tremors, slowness, stiffness, and impaired balance, gradually worsen, making it difficult to walk, talk, live independently, and have a normal life.

A new study published in the journal Current Biology explains Parkinson’s as a, “result of an energy crisis in brain cells that have unusually high energy needs in order to control movement. The crisis causes the cells to overheat and burn themselves out.” The study’s lead researcher, Louis-Éric Trudeau is a professor in pharmacology and neurosciences, who has spent the last 17 years studying the part of the brain that causes Parkinson’s disease, as well as schizophrenia and addiction. Trudeau says, “like a motor constantly running at high speed, thee neurons need to produce an incredible amount of energy to function. They appear to exhaust themselves and die prematurely.” Trudeau hopes that the study’s findings will produce better ways to represent Parkinson’s in animal models and develop new treatments. So far, it has been incredibly difficult for researchers to reproduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in mice, even with human genes.

The study’s team is already pursuing a way to create drugs that help brain cells reduce their energy consumption and be energy efficient to reduce the damage they accumulate over time. The team has investigated why mitochondria inside cells in the areas of the brain affected by Parkinson’s work so hard and overheat. They have since discovered that, “the cells in these brain areas have very complex structures with lots of branches and sites where the chemical messengers are released, and suggest it is this complexity that demands high levels of energy.” Trudeau supports the idea that, “these complex neurons force their mitochondria to work at burnout rates to meet their energy demands, which would explain their accelerated deterioration.” He explains, “to use the analogy of a motor, a car that overheats will burn significantly more fuel, and, not surprisingly, end up at the garage more often.”

The fact that Parkinson’s affects older populations presents some complications, since as we age, the complexity of these cells may also make them particularly vulnerable. Trudeau notes that, “as life expectancy increases, so does the challenge to find treatments for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s since from an evolutionary standpoint, some of our neurons are perhaps just not programmed to last 80, 90, or 100 years, as we are seeing more and more. It’s to be expected that certain parts of our body are less able to withstand the effects of time.”

Researchers and scientists like Trudeau are still optimistic though, that because Parkinson’s disease only affects a limited part of the brain, effective treatments will be found sooner rather than later. In the meantime, if you or someone you love is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and your family is looking for ways to manage their symptoms and learn about available options, call your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today.



Healthy Habits: Take a Walk for Longevity

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Are you looking for simple ways to boost your health that don’t require an expensive gym membership? A new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress says the best way to improve your health and lifespan is as simple as 25 minutes of walking daily. Researchers repeatedly find that moderate exercise can reduce can halve the risk of dying from a heart attack for someone in their fifties or sixties. Furthermore, exercise reduces the risk by preventing obesity and diabetes.

In this latest study, 69 healthy non-smokers, between 30 and 60 years old, who do not exercise regularly, were tested as part of a study at Saarland University in Germany. Blood tests were taken during six months of regular aerobic exercise, high-intensity interval training, and strength training, showed that an anti-ageing process was triggered and old DNA was repaired. Sanjay Sharma, the professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London said that, “this suggests that when people exercise regularly, they may be able to retard the process of ageing. We may never avoid becoming completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our nineties. Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an antidepressant, it improves cognitive function and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”

Experts advise everyone to do at least 20 minutes of walking or jogging a day, given our sedentary lifestyles and changes in diet that contribute to high death rates related to heart disease. Exercise is also a popular method for improving brain functioning. Additionally, exercise benefits people no matter what age they are when they start working out.

Chris Deaton, a Professor of Clinical Nursing Researching at Cambridge Institute of Public Health, explained the value of the new study: “it brings a bit more understanding of why physical activity has that effect. It helps us understand the process of cellular ageing, as that’s what drives our organ system and body ageing, and the effects physical activity can have on the cellular level. The more active you are, and it doesn’t matter when you start, the more benefit you’re going to have.”

Your team at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey is here to help you live your healthiest life. We encourage our patients to adopt healthy lifestyle practices for a healthier and happier life. While exercise is an important feature of health, patients with existing conditions, injuries, or concerns should call their doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today. Practicing your exercise routine safely is as important as the activity itself. Call your doctor today to discuss your health and fitness goals, and get started on living a healthier life.




Achievement at Medical Alliance: Praise for Dr. Huston

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Our team at Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey is proud to applaud accomplishments within our staff. Recently, the U.S. News & World Report recognized our very own Dr. Huston 26th on its annual list of America’s “Best Hospitals.” Dr. Huston works at the Inspira Medical Center Vineland, which was ranked the 9th best hospital in New Jersey. In particular, the hospital was recognized for excellence in the treatment of patients with heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Dr. Huston is the Medical Director of the Clinical Integration Committee and the COPD Committee. His leadership there has positively impacted the care that patients received, and we are happy that in turn, his work has received such excellent recognition. Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey is proud to have Dr. Huston on its team, and knows that his expertise and top-notch care is an asset to patients and staff alike. Congratulations again Dr. Huston on your achievement!

MouthLab: New Vital Signs Tester

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Engineers and physicians at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have developed a new way to quickly take patients’ vital signs. The new device is hand-held and battery-powered. It tests a patient’s blood pressure, breathing, blood oxygen, heart rate, and heartbeat pattern from their lips and fingertips. The new device, called MouthLab could replace bulky and restrictive monitors used to display vital signs in hospitals and allow medical professionals to gather more data in ambulances, emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, and even a patient’s home.

The MouthLab’s measurements were published in the September issue of Annals of Biomedical Engineering against standard hospital monitors. The results from 52 volunteers showed that the MouthLab compares well with standard hospital monitors. The new device also takes a basic electrocardiogram. Gene Fridman is the lead engineer for the project and said, “We see it as a ‘check-engine’ light for humans. It can be used by people without any special training at home or in the field.” He expects that the device may be able to detect warning signs of medical emergencies like heart attacks, and help patients avoid unnecessary ambulance trips and emergency room visits if their vital signs are good.

Because the vital signs are measured by mouth, this opens up future possibilities for similar devices that could detect chemical cues in blood, saliva, and breath that may mark serious health conditions. Fridman added, “We envision the detection of a wide range of disorder from blood glucose levels for diabetics, to kidney failure, to oral, lung, and breast cancers.”

The MouthLab has a small mouthpiece like the ones scuba divers use, connected to a small handheld unit the size of a telephone receiver. The mouthpiece has a temperature sensor and a blood volume sensor. The attached thumb pad has a miniaturized pulse oximeter. It also has three electrodes for ECGs—one on the thumb pad, one o the upper lip of the mouthpiece and one on the lower lip. The unit relays information by Wi-Fi to a nearby device and graphs real-time results. Fridman hopes that the next generation will display its own data readouts without the need for a laptop and generate results in under 10 seconds.

While new technology continues to improve the patient experience, our team at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey is committed to making your experience a positive one. Contact your doctor today for any questions or concerns, to stay on top of your health.





Eat This for Health: Lentils

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If you’re looking for ways to boost the nutritional value of your diet, consider adding lentils to the mix. Lentils are a high protein, high fiber member of the legume family. Like a mini bean, lentils grow in pods and come in red, brown, and green varieties. Even better—lentils are quick and easy to prepare and are inexpensive.

One cup of cooked lentils has 230 calories, 18 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 40 grams of carbohydrates, including 16 grams of fiber and 4 grams of sugar. That same one cup provides 90% of your daily folate needs, 37% of iron, 49% of manganese, 36% of phosphorus, 22% of thiamin, 21% of potassium, and 18% of vitamin B6. Lentils also provide riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.

Plant-based foods are popular for improved health benefits and are gaining widespread notoriety amongst dieters. Increasing your consumption of plant foods like lentils leads to a decreased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight. Furthermore, the fiber, folic acid, and potassium in lentils all support heart health. According to the American Heart Association, increased fiber intake can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels beyond what can be achieved by a diet low in saturated and trans fats alone.

In addition to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, fiber is also associated with a slower progression of the disease in high-risk individuals. Lentils add essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber to the diet with the protein to replace meat in some meals. Additionally, studies have found that the potassium, calcium, and magnesium in lentils decreases blood pressure naturally.

For pregnant women, folate is crucial for preventing birth defects and reducing early delivery risks. The Center for Disease Control recommends consuming 400 mcg of folic acid every day. One cup of lentils provides almost 90% of your folate needs for the entire day.

Lentils are a big boost for your overall nutrition in your diet and can be used in a variety of ways. Sneak them into soups and stews, on top of salads, or into dips. They’re delicious, cheap, and easy to love! If you’re looking for other ways to boost your health with a better diet, call your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today!













Heart Attack Recovery: Stop Smoking!

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Heart attacks are all too common in the United States, and too frequently, people who have heart attacks are also smokers. Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association. Research is widely available that links smoking with numerous health risks, and a new study shows that stopping smoking will lead to big health improvements.

A study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes assessed 4,003 adults in the United States. Researchers examined patients for smoking, chest pain, and health-related quality of life measures at admission, one, six, and 12 months after their heart attacks. At admission, 29 percent of patients never smoked, 34 percent were former smokers who quit sometime before their heart attack, and 37 percent were active smokers. Of the active smokers, 46 percent went on to quit smoking after their heart attack.

The heart attack patients who had never smoked had the overall best health status while those who continued smoking had the (surprise) worst health status. Individuals who stopped smoking before the heart attack were in a similar health status to those who never smoked. Finally, smokers who quiet within a year after a heart attack had intermediate levels of chest pain and mental health that was similar to those who had never smoked.

At the one-year follow up, persistent smokers had 1.5times the chance of having chest pain compared to those who never smoked. On their quality of life assessment, they scored 3.5 points lower related to chest pain, 1.6 points lower for general physical functioning, and 2.3 points lower for general mental health.

The study’s lead author, Donna Buchanana, Ph.D., said, “Healthcare providers should counsel patients about how smoking cessation not only reduces the risk of death and having another heart attack, but also reduces the risk of having chest pain and may likely improve general mental health.”

The findings reinforce a wealth of previous research that says smoking has negative effects on a person’s overall health. Buchanan’s hope was that, “This information may offer current smokers increased motivation to quit smoking. Current educational efforts tend to focus on how continued smoking increases the risk of recurrent heart attacks and death, but health-related quality of life is often equally or more important to patients than longevity.”

If you are a smoker and are looking for ways to quit, call a doctor at the Medical Alliance of New Jersey today to get started on making big changes for big health rewards.






Flu Remedies: A Fix for E. Coli

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We commonly think of bacteria as the cause of sickness and disease, but the reality is that trillions of bacteria are right at home in the human gut. In fact, bacteria are more common than any other cell in our body. However, the composition of our gut’s bacterial population varies, and one strong influence is our diet. Diseases and antibiotic treatments can induce big changes in this equilibrium. If entire bacterial groups start to multiply quickly, critical problems can occur. For example, they damage the intestinal tissue and cause inflammations. How these shifts are triggered is still a mystery though, but physiologists at the University of Zurich recently discovered why the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) multiples heavily and has an inflammatory effect.

Normally, E. coli are a harmless part of our bacteria population—they also only make up 0.1 percent of the “intestinal flora.” However, if the bacteria is present in large amounts, they can cause diarrhea and serious intestinal inflammation. This new study from Zurich revealed that an overproduction of E. coli can be attributed to the availability of the carbohydrate sialic acid, which is found in the proteins of the intestinal mucosa. The E. coli bacteria use the enzyme sialidase, which is released by other intestinal bacteria, to use the sialic acid.

Thierry Hennet, a professor from the Institute of Physiology at the University of Zurich explained that, “It’s striking that E. coli doesn’t produce this kind of enzyme itself.” Hennet and his colleagues demonstrated the complex chain of events involve in a severe inflammation triggered by E. coli. In their study, “an injury to the intestinal mucosa initially causes the increased multiplication of a non-pathogenic bacteria, which emits sialidase. This increased enzyme production releases sialic acid, which facilitates an overproduction of E. coli and can thus cause intestinal inflammation.”

Researchers also discovered that taking a sialidase inhibitor can prevent the excessive formation of E. coli and alleviate the symptoms. Furthermore, sialidase inhibitors are already developed for use against the influenza virus. Hennet said that, “Derivatives of known flu agents such as Tamiflu and Relenza could therefore also be used for inflammatory intestinal diseases, which opens up new therapeutic possibilities.”

While the use of flu remedies to treat inflammatory intestinal diseases is still undergoing research, there are ways to help treat and manage your symptoms. If you, or someone in your family, is currently suffering from any inflammatory issues, contact your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today to find relief.


Reprogramming Cancer Cells: New Possibilities

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A new study in Nature Cell Biology treats cancer like a complex software program where there is a code for normal cells and a code for abnormal cells. The study suggests that there may be a way to change this code to change cancer cells back into normal cells.

Senior investigator Panos Anastasiadis is a professor of cancer biology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. Anastasiadis says that their, “findings represent an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software, for turning off cancer.” This discovery is based on the role of adhesion proteins, which are effectively the “glue” that keeps cells together to form tissue. The study looked at how these adhesion proteins interact with microRNAs (miRNAs)—molecules that orchestrate cell programs by regulating gene expression.

The study demonstrates that when normal cells come together, a particular group of miRNAs suppresses genes that encourage cell growth. However, this process is disrupted in tumor cells, which leads to uncontrolled growth—a trademark of cancer. When researchers restored normal miRNA signals in cancer cells, they were able to reverse this process to prevent the growth from becoming uncontrollable.

Researchers originally thought that two specific adhesion proteins, E-cadherin and p120 catenin were important for normal tissue formation and were considered tumor suppressors for a long time. However, these proteins were still found in tumor cells and were important for tumor growth. Professor Anastasiadis said that this, “led [researchers] to wonder if the molecules have two faces—a good one that helps keep normal cells behaving correctly and a bad one that drives tumor growth.”

Researchers studied a new protein called PLEKHA7 that associated with E-cadherin and p120 and found the answer. “They found that the new protein is essential for ensuring E-cadherin and p120 maintain their “good face” and stick to their tumor suppression role.” When PLEKHA7 is lost, the adhesion complex that keeps E-cadherin and p120 suppressing tumors is disrupted and the miRNAs are unregulated.

Professor Anastasiadis says they believe, “this is an early and somewhat universal event In cancer.” In the majority of human tumor samples they examined, the researchers found the adhesion complex was missing while E-cadherin and p120 were still present. Anastasiadis adds that, “this is like a speeding car that has a lot of gas (E-cadherin and p120) but no brakes (the PLEKHA7 complex) and concludes by administering the affected miRNAs in cancer cells to restoer their normal levels, we should be able to re-establish the brakes and restore normal cell function. Initial experiments in some aggressive types of cancer are indeed very promising.”

Ultimately, this new study opens up a new field for cancer research and treatment. Meanwhile, as the research progresses, contact your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today for any questions or concerns about cancer and treatment.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/298513.php

Southern Diet is Comfort Food with Uncomfortable Effects

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It comes as no surprise that diet is one of the biggest factors in determining your overall health. A balanced diet, with the occasional “splurge,” is crucial for long-term health in more ways than just maintaining a healthy weight for your body. We often hear reports about how a certain diet from a particular region is good or bad—lately Mediterranean diets have been popular. However, a new study looked at a diet a little closer to home, with some unsurprising but important results.

The study, published in Circulation explored the relationship between heart disease risk and dietary patterns. The study’s author wrote that, “While individual foods and nutrients (e.g., red meat and saturated fat) have been studied extensively in relation to CHD (coronary heart disease) risk, the relationship between overall diet and CHD risk may be more informative because foods typically are eaten in combination, not isolation.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. There was a 36% decrease in death from coronary heart disease between 1999-2001 and 2008-2010, but it still kills 1 in 6 people in the United States. For the study, researchers collected data from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. They looked at more than 17,000 white and Africa-American adults, aged 45 or older. Participants were enrolled between 2003 and 2007 and each person was screened by telephone before undergoing a physical exam and completing a food frequency questionnaire about their food consumption over the previous year. People with pre-existing heart disease were excluded from the study.

Over the course of the study, participants received a follow up phone call every 6 months for another interview. During the interview, the participants were questioned about their health status. These follow up interviews continued over the course of 6 years.

Researchers grouped the food types that people reported regularly eating into five different dietary categories. There was the “convenience” category that contained pasta dishes, pizza, Mexican, and Chinese food. The “plant-based” category that contained foods such as vegetables, fruits, cereal, beans, fish, poultry, and yogurt. Another category was the “sweets” with items like cakes, cookies, candy, and sweetened breakfast foods. The “Alcohol/Salads” grouping contained wine, beer, liquor, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and dressing. The last group was “Southern,” with fried food, eggs, organ meats, processed meats, added fats, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Southern diet reflects a culinary pattern observed in the southeastern parts of the United States. This region is also called the “Stroke Belt” and includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Throughout the stroke belt, stroke deaths are more than 10% higher than the national average.

The study found that participants who reported eating foods that followed the Southern dietary pattern had a 56% higher risk of coronary heart disease than those who ate these foods less frequently. None of the other dietary patterns were linked with the risk of heart disease. Demographics showed that individuals more likely to follow the southern diet included men, African-Americans, people who had not graduated from high school, and residents of the Stroke Belt.

No matter what gender or race, the Southern diet poses a big risk for dieters. For patients subscribing to the Southern Diet, cutting the number of fried foods and processed meats, and substituting baked or grilled chicken and vegetable-based foods could be life saving.

While making health diet choices may seem like a simple endeavor for many of us, sometimes small and unexpected changes could make a real impact on our health. If you’re looking to improve your health, manage your weight, and lower your risk for heart disease, call your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern Jersey. Our team can offer you real solutions to get your health on track.


Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/297950.php

Mentally Fit: Aging Population Needs Right Amount of Exercise

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As a person ages, they need to consider new realities about their health. Among them is staying active to maintain a healthy body. A new study published in PLOS One by scientists from the University of Kansas’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Fairway, Kansas discovered that exercise may improve the ability to think in older patients, if done in moderation.

Working out is good for the body—it helps manage weight and bolsters heart health—but the fact that exercise could be ideal for brain function is a relatively new notion. The study took 101 sedentary adults who were at least 65 years old. These subjects were generally healthy and had no dementia symptoms or other cognitive health impairments. These men and women were chosen at this age because, as co-director of the University of Kansas’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center Dr. Jeffrey Burns said these, “men and women had reached the age at which many of us begin to develop the first worrisome declines in our memory and thinking skills.”

The volunteers were brought to the lab and completed a series of tests including measurements of their aerobic capacity and tests to determine their thinking and memory skills. Then the volunteers were assigned randomly to one of four different groups. One group was a control group and they continued their normal lives. The other three groups were assigned to brisk walking programs. One group walked for 75 minutes per week—half the current recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise. Another group was assigned the recommended 150 minutes, and the third was assigned 225 minutes a week.

After 26 weeks of their respective exercise regiment, the volunteers returned to the lab to repeat the original tests. In the physical tests, those who exercised more performed best, with the control group showing no fitness capacity improvement. There was a direct correlation between amount of walking and improved fitness, with those who walked the most showing the most improvement.

However, the thinking tests proved more interesting. Those who exercised displayed more improvement in their thinking skills—especially in attention control and visual mapping exercises—but those gains were nearly the same no matter how much the person had exercised. Dr. Burns stated that, “a small dose of exercise may be sufficient to improve many aspects of thinking and more sweat may not provide noticeably more cognitive benefits.” More exercise will, of course, make a person more fit.

The big takeaway from the study is that briskly walking for 20 or 25 minutes a day is an achievable exercise goal that may help keep brains sharp as the years pass. While more studies are conducted to pinpoint exactly the right amount of exercise, establishing a fitness routine that you can stick to long-term is an important step for your overall health. If you’re looking to find the right amount of exercise at any age and any fitness level, contact your doctor at the Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey today to get started!


Source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/12/the-right-dose-of-exercise-for-the-aging-brain/?ref=health&_r=0