Heart over head: weak pumping linked to smaller brain

November 16, 2010 by  
Filed under AGING, ALZHEIMER'S, HEART AND STROKE

People are supposed to be rational and shouldn’t let their heart rule over their minds. But the human anatomy and physiology say otherwise: When the heart stops, brain damage and death follows. However, a person can be brain dead for long periods of time while the heart still continues to beat.

A recent study by researchers at the Alzheimer’s Disease Center of the Boston University School of Medicine showed that a weak heart with less pumping ability can lead to a prematurely aging brain. The data was based on study of 1504 people as part of the Framingham Heart Study. The study participants were practically healthy, and had no history of stroke, heart attack or dementia. The average age was 61 years old and 54% were women. Assessments included cardiac index calculated as cardiac output/body surface area measured by cardiac magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI). Brain volume was also assessed using MRI. The results of the study indicate a strong correlation between cardiac index and brain volume, with smaller volumes observed among those with lower (yet normal) cardiac index. Lower cardiac index is indicative of decreasing cardiac function whereas smaller brain volume is indicative of brain atrophy that may be due to premature brain aging

According to researcher and author Angela Jefferson

“Individuals in the lowest or middle cardiac index groups had brain volumes that appeared about two years older than the individuals in the highest or healthiest cardiac index group.’’

Experts think that the results are cause for concern because smaller brain volume is also linked to mild cognitive impairment, early dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Is there something we can do about this?

Dr. Jefferson says there is. Regular exercise keeps the heart active and its pumping ability strong. If we maintain our cardiac function through physical activity, we reduce the risk for having a prematurely aging brain.

So think and use your brain, if you must, but keep your heart strong. At the end of the day, the heart wins over the mind.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis – Typical Symptoms And Signs

February 23, 2008 by  
Filed under MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

By Steve Dempster

No-one likes to think they may ever develop a disease as serious in its implications as Multiple Sclerosis (MS). However, to be forewarned is indeed to be forearmed and early diagnosis can make a great difference to a patient’s progress. This article looks at some of the main early onset symptoms of the disease.

Due to the constraints placed on space within this article, only a brief overview of symptoms is possible. If you suspect you may be affected by any of the following symptoms of MS, consult your physician.

Visual symptoms include

* Optic Neuritis: This causes loss of colour vision, eye pain, blurred vision and (ultimately) blindness.

* Afferent Pupillary Defect: This gives rise to abnormal response of the pupil of the eye.

* Movement and sounds phosphenes: These can cause ‘flashing lights’ to be seen when moving the eyes or in response to a sudden noise.

* Nystagmus: this causes the eyes to move jerkily instead of smoothly.

* Diplopia: The medical term for ‘double vision’.

* Ocular Dysmetria: this causes constant under- or over-shooting of eye movements

Motor symptoms include

* Paresis; Monoparesis; Paraparesis; Hemiparesis and Quadraperesis: all names for muscle weakness, up to and including partial or mild paralysis.

* Spasticity: this causes stiffness, pain and restriction of free movement of limbs due to loss of muscle tone.

* Muscle atrophy: the wasting away of muscle tissue due to lack of use.

* Restless leg syndrome: these are involuntary leg movements, particularly bothersome at night.

* Hypotonia; Clonus: posture problems.

* Footdrop: this is when the foot drags along the floor when walking.

* Dysarthia: speech problems including slurring of speech.

Co-ordination and balance symptoms

* Dystonia: Slow feedback of limb position.

* Intention tremor: Shaking when fine movements are attempted.

* Ataxia: General loss of co-ordination.

* Speech ataxia: stuttering and general problems with speech co-ordination.

* Vestibular ataxia: abnormal functioning of the inner ear – can cause vertigo.

These are just some of the main symptoms of MS. There are many more in other areas but to list them all is well beyond the scope of this article. It is important, however, to realise that ignoring any of the above symptoms – particularly if they are tending to grow more severe or frequent – can lead to greater problems as the disease advances.

Although no cure is known for MS, there are many treatments available that do help control the condition to a greater or lesser extent and life expectancy – though perhaps not life quality – is roughly the same for those affected by Multiple Sclerosis as those who are not.

Again, if any of the above symptoms seem relevant to you, it is important to consult your doctor or physician. The symptoms you are having may be totally unrelated to Multiple Sclerosis but the old adage – better sure than sorry – certainly applies here.

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Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steve_Dempster

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.