Archive for April, 2012

Physical Activity Tied To Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The April 24th, 2012 issue of Neurology released a study conducted by Rush University scientists on the activity levels of 716 people, average age 82, with no cognitive impairments. Each participant wore a wrist actigraph for 10 days that measured their activity levels, and scientist’s then monitored the health of each participant over the next four years.

What they found was those studied with activity levels in the lower 10% of participants were more than twice as likely to develop a cognitive disorder than those in the top 10%. Read more HERE.

Dr. Aron Buchman, lead author of the study at Rush University, contends that the results were positive news for people of all ages because they were based more on staying active than doing hard exercises, which some people may not be able to do.

“We weren’t measuring only exercise activity, but any activity over a 24-hour period,” said Dr. Buchman. “Even very old people who can’t participate in formal exercise may be able to derive the benefit.”

Scientists are now trying to better explain the exact ties to physical activity and decreased risk of cognitive disorders, but preliminary tests are beginning to confirm a previous hypothesis that physical activity helps by increasing blood vessel size and number of neurons in the brain.




Brain Freeze and Ice Cream Headache Cause Solved

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

You’ve been there before. The ice cream looks delicious, the milkshake is calling your name, or, the water laden with ice cubes is enticing you to be refreshed. So, naturally, you eat or drink that cold substance at a ridiculously fast pace, only to be halted by a sudden intense pain.

And now you’ve done it, you’ve brought upon the dreaded “brain freeze.”

Buthave you ever stopped to wonder what causes this fleeting and almost debilitating pain brought upon by rapid consumption of cold substances? Until now, many speculated that the pain had to do with nerves and stimulation, but scientists have recently discovered it’s a blood flow issue.

Researcher’s at Harvard Medical School studied the blood flow through the brain of 13 otherwise healthy people during a “brain freeze” incident. What they found when “brain freeze” occurred was that those affected had an increase in blood flow through the anterior cerebral artery, which causes the artery to expand. The result of this expansion is what causes the pain. And, when the artery constricts in response, the pain subsides.

“The brain is one of the relatively important organs in the body, and it needs to be working all the time,” study researcher Jorge Serrador, of Harvard Medical School, said in a statement. “It’s fairly sensitive to temperature, so vasodilation [the widening of the blood vessels] might be moving warm blood inside tissue to make sure the brain stays warm.”

Scientists say this finding has bigger implications than that of just figuring out brain freeze. If other headaches, such as migraines, work in similar ways to brain freeze, then finding medicines and treatments that help constrict arteries in the brain might be the key to helping sufferers from headaches in the future.