ParentCare » Vol. 3

Research, Studies and Findings

Low testosterone, higher depression risk

Older men with abnormally low testosterone levels are at greater risk of displaying signs of clinical depression than those with normal levels, according to a study published in the March Archives of General Psychiatry. The findings could help treatment of depression in certain men who could benefit from testosterone replacement. The study sampled 3,987 men aged 71 to 89 in Perth, Australia. Findings indicated that overall health was not a factor. After age 70, 20 percent of men experience low testosterone levels. The study’s lead author says its findings don’t imply that all older men should receive testosterone replacement therapy to treat depression, but that it should be considered for those whose testosterone levels have declined.

Laparascopic surgery effective in short-term treatment of GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease responds to laparoscopic surgery in 85 percent to 95 percent of patients, but its benefits diminish over time, according to a study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology. It followed 441 patients who underwent the surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle between 1993 and 1999. In 2004, university researchers contacted 288 of the patients, or 65 percent, for follow-up. Ninety percent of the respondents reported reduction in heartburn; of that number, two thirds said it had been eradicated. Regurgitation was improved in 92 percent of the patients and eradicated in 70 percent of the subgroup. Cough improved in 69 percent but most patients said it was not eradicated. Adverse post-surgical effects such as difficulty eating, diarrhea and bloating affected small segments of the patient sample. Three percent of patients required additional surgery.
Almost 6 million falls in older adults annually, CDC reports

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 5.8 million adults age 65 and over fell at least once in 2006, and that 1.8 million required medical care or reduced their activity as a result. The report said one of the most effective preventatives is exercise. The CDC’s survey, conducted nationwide, asked participants how many times they had fallen over a 3-month period, and how many of those falls resulted in injury. Almost 16 percent of respondents said they’d fallen at least once, and a third of that number reported sustaining an injury. Though men and women were equally likely to fall, women got injured about 50 percent more often. The CDC recommends exercise, medication management, vision correction and home modifications as preventive measures.

Older adults with diabetes more at risk for falls

Type 2 Diabetes increases the risk of falls in older adults, according to a study reported in the March issue of Diabetes Care. A total of 446 diabetic but well-functioning older adults with a mean age of 73.6 years were followed for 4.9 years. Twenty four percent reported falling in the first year; 26 percent, 31 percent and 30 percent reported in successive following years. Risk factors were decreased peroneal nerve response, higher levels of cystatin-C, which indicates reduced kidney function, poorer vision, and low hemoglobin. While its findings were limited in patient classification and measurements of some conditions and outcomes, the study indicated that reducing complications from diabetes may prevent falls.

Cured meats can exacerbate COPD in men

The nitrites in cured meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and processed meats (sausage, salami, bologna) can cause biochemical reactions that damage the lungs, according to a 12-year study that sought to assess a relation between frequent consumption of cured meats and the risk of new cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. The study authors identified 111 self-reported (meaning the patient reported they’d gotten that diagnosis from their doctor) cases of COPD among almost 43,000 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Of this group, 86 percent reported smoking. They reported their consumption of cured meats in food questionnaires. After adjustment for age, smoking and several related factors ~ including body mass index and physical activity ~ cured meat consumption still stood out as a factor, coupled with the effects of smoking, in increasing vulnerability to COPD. The nitrites in the meat can act to inflame airways and lungs, thus impairing breathing. COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and Europe and it’s expected to jump to No. 3 worldwide by 2020.

Antibiotics use at end of life

A new study questions the feasibility of frequent antibiotic administration in advanced dementia patients in their last two weeks of life, in light of growing concern about antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. The study tracked data on 214 advanced-dementia patients at least 60 years old and severely cognitively impaired in 21 Boston-area nursing homes. The study, reported in the February 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that residents in their last two weeks of life were seven times more likely to receive antibiotics, compared with in the previous several weeks. In end of life treatment and particularly palliative care, the study authors emphasized that withdrawing antibiotics should not be seen as the equivalent of “doing nothing” ~ particularly when other palliative and supportive care measures can or may be more effective.

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