Could exercise make the heart younger?

After a heart attack, patients must create new heart muscle cells to heal. Harvard study shows that mice make more new heart muscle cells when they exercise compared to when they do not. This was true for both healthy mice and those that had experienced a heart attack. Findings demonstrate that one reason exercise is beneficial to health is that it increases the heart’s capacity to regenerate.

In a new study performed in mice, researchers from the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS), and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) uncovered one reason why exercise might be beneficial: it stimulates the heart to make new muscle cells, both under normal conditions and after a heart attack.

Published in Nature Communications on 25 April, the findings have implications for public health, physical education and the rehabilitation of cardiac patients.

The human heart has a relatively low capacity to regenerate itself. Young adults can renew around 1% of their heart muscle cells every year, and that rate decreases with age. Considering that losing heart cells is linked to heart failure, interventions that increase new heart cell formation have potential to prevent heart failure.

Source: Exercise could make the heart younger

Music reduces pain and anxiety in surgical patients 

Music can reduce the anxiety and pain of invasive surgery, according to an analysis of all relevant randomized controlled trials published since 1980.

Ninety-two trials with a total of 7385 patients were included in the BJS (British Journal of Surgery) analysis. Music interventions significantly decreased anxiety and pain compared with controls, equivalent to a decrease of 21 mm for anxiety and 10 mm for pain on a 100-mm visual analogue scale.

There was no significant association between the effect of music interventions and age, sex, choice and timing of music, and type of anaesthesia.

“This result makes it now possible to create guidelines for the implementation of music interventions around surgical procedures,” said lead author Dr. Rosalie Kühlmann, of Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital, in The Netherlands.

Source: Music lessens pain and anxiety in patients undergoing surgery

Meditation for anxiety and cardiovascular health


It sounds like a late-night commercial: In just one hour you can reduce your anxiety levels and some heart health risk factors. But a recent study with 14 participants shows preliminary data that even a single session of meditation can have cardiovascular and psychological benefits for adults with mild to moderate anxiety.

John Durocher, assistant professor of biological sciences, is presenting the work of a team of Michigan Technological University researchers about mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce anxiety at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting April 21-25 in San Diego, which is attended by approximately 14,000 people.

In “Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Aortic Pulsatile Load and Anxiety in Mild to Moderately Anxious Adults,” Durocher, along with fellow researchers Hannah Marti, a recent Michigan Tech graduate, Brigitte Morin, lecturer in biological science, and Travis Wakeham, a graduate student, explains the finding that 60 minutes after meditating the 14 study participants showed lower resting heart rates and reduction in aortic pulsatile load–the amount of change in blood pressure between diastole and systole of each heartbeat multiplied by heart rate. Additionally, shortly after meditating, and even one week later, the group reported anxiety levels were lower than pre-meditation levels.
Source: Meditation could help anxiety and cardiovascular health

Major decrease in opioid prescriptions since 2011

However, the study does not track illegal use of opioids like heroin or fentanyl, which can replace the use of prescription opioids.

Still, the report says the progress in reducing opioid prescriptions could be resulting from recent changes in policy.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued prescribing guidelines in 2016 looking to limit overprescribing of opioids. And hydrocodone, a common opioid, was moved to the more restrictive Schedule II, from Schedule III, in 2014.

Meanwhile, treatment for opioid addiction is increasing. The number of people starting Medication Assisted Treatment almost doubled from 44,000 to 82,000 per month from 2015 to 2017

Source: Study: Opioid prescriptions have dropped 29 percent since 2011

Becoming a Systems Thinker

How do you deal with ignorance? I don’t mean how do you shut ignorance out. Rather, how do you deal with an awareness of what you don’t know, and you don’t know how to know, in dealing with a particular problem? When Gregory Bateson was arguing about human purposes, that was where he got involved in environmentalism. We were doing all sorts of things to the planet we live on without even asking what the side effects would be and the interactions, although, at that point we were thinking more about side effects than about interactions between multiple processes. Once you begin to understand the nature of side effects, you ask a different set of questions before you make decisions and projections and analyze what’s going to happen.

Source: How To Be a Systems Thinker

Improving brain metabolism and muscle energetics in older adults with Tai Chi

Using magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a non-invasive method of measuring brain and muscle chemistry using MRI machines, tests conducted in 6 older adults enrolled in a 12-week Tai Chi program revealed significant increases in a marker of neuronal health in the brain and significantly improved recovery rates of a metabolite involved in energy production in leg muscles.

“The benefits of Tai Chi have been well known anecdotally; however recent research such as our study can quantify these improvements using objective measures,” said senior author Dr. Alexander Lin, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Source: Tai Chi improves brain metabolism and muscle energetics in older adults

Can medical marijuana benefit older adults?

Importantly, however, medical marijuana’s positive and negative effects have not been thoroughly studied specifically in older adults.

“There is a dearth of evidence supporting the use of cannabinoids for medical indications in older adults. Common sense practices are applicable here though, including performing a thorough assessment for side effects and expecting that lower doses will have a greater impact,” said lead author Dr. Joshua Briscoe, of the Duke University Medical Center. “As younger generations age, it is also important to expect that they have experience using marijuana in recreational contexts, which will affect their approach to its use in a medical setting.”

Source: How can medical marijuana benefit older adults?

Let Go Of the Guilt From Not Getting Things Done

It happens to all of us: we don’t get done what we hoped to get done, then we feel stressed or guilty about it.

It’s time to let that go, because it’s not helping us.

We can build resiliency around this, with a little mental training. And it will help us in magical ways.

Think about whether you’ve done any of these things:

  • Set out to do a certain habit (exercise, eating, meditation, writing) and then didn’t do it as planned. You feel guilty, disappointed in yourself, or just stressed.
  • Had a list of things you need to get done, and then didn’t get most of them done. This just added to your stress.
  • Planned to work on a project, or do some writing … and then procrastinated. Again, you felt guilty, disappointed or stressed.
  • Hoped to change your patterns, like eating or how you talk to others or how you practice mindfulness. Then everything goes to crap and you feel disappointed.

There are thousands of variations on these, but the main theme is that things didn’t go as you’d hoped, and that causes disappointment, guilt, stress.

Source:Mental Resiliency: Letting Go of the Guilt of Not Getting Things Done

Cooking skills strongly predict future nutritional well-being

Evidence suggests that developing cooking and food preparation skills is important for health and nutrition, yet the practice of home cooking is declining and now rarely taught in school. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that developing cooking skills as a young adult may have long-term benefits for health and nutrition.

“The impact of developing cooking skills early in life may not be apparent until later in adulthood when individuals have more opportunity and responsibility for meal preparation,” said lead author Jennifer Utter, PhD, MPH, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. “The strength of this study is the large, population-based sample size followed over a period of 10 years to explore the impact of perceived cooking skills on later nutritional well-being.”

Source: Adolescents’ cooking skills strongly predict future nutritional well-being

Exercise to prevent falls recommended for older adults at increased risk for falls

For adults 65 years or older who are at increased risk of falling, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends exercise, such as supervised individual and group classes and physical therapy, to prevent falls, and that clinicians selectively check older adults’ risks for falls and then offer tailored interventions that address those specific risks. The USPSTF recommends against vitamin D supplementation.

Background: The USPSTF routinely makes recommendations about the effectiveness of preventive care services. This latest recommendation statement is an update of the 2012 recommendation on the prevention of falls in older adults living in the community. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related illness and death among older adults in the United States. In 2014, nearly 30 percent of community-dwelling adults 65 or older reported falling, resulting in 29 million falls and an estimated 33,000 deaths in 2015.

Source: Exercise to prevent falls recommended for older adults at increased risk for falls