David Dow thought he was having back problems, and that his legs were hurting as a result. As it turns out, that pain may have saved his life. An otherwise healthy 57-year-old, he figured he just needed to learn some back-strengthening exercises, so he found a personal trainer to help him. But despite the workouts, his leg pain got worse making it hard for him even to walk from the car to the grocery store entrance. He and the trainer suspected something else was wrong and he sought the advice of his doctor. Soon his doctor's tests revealed the true cause: blockages in the blood vessels of his legs. In fact, the arteries going to his lower extremities were nearly 100 percent blocked. The cause? Years of heavy smoking and high-fat meals, and other factors had caused cholesterol, scar tissue and blood clots to build up inside his blood vessels.
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have discovered that brain cells commonly thought to play a supporting role actually are critically important for the growth of brainstem neurons responsible for cardiorespiratory control. The discovery has profound implications for the prevention and treatment of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), the leading cause of death in children aged one month to one year. The new discovery is published online in Neuroscience .* In their study, the OHSU team looked at glial cells, non-neuronal cells of the brain, and found that they very potently regulate growth of nerve cells in the brainstem. In fact, the glial cells actually inhibit the growth of brainstem neurons and may be as important for establishing neuronal networks as neurotrophic factors, a family of proteins essential for brain growth and survival.
Researchers studying why arteries stiffen in postmenopausal women have found a specific chemical cofactor that dramatically improves vascular function. Kerrie Moreau, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, discovered that BH4 or tetrahydrobiopterin plays a key role in arterial health of women. BH4 is a critical cofactor of the enzyme endothelial nitric oxide synthase or eNOS. The two combine to create nitric oxide which is highly beneficial to arterial health. "Nitric oxide causes arteries to dilate, without it they are more constricted which can lead to arterial stiffening. That stiffening can cause high blood pressure, thickening of the left ventricle and increase the risk for stroke, heart disease and dementia " said Moreau, who works in the Division of Geriatrics at CU School of Medicine.
More salt in the average US diet comes bread and rolls and not from salty snacks like potato chips, pretzels and popcorn, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released this week. Although salty snacks taste saltier, and weight for weight they contain more sodium than bread and rolls, because the average American consumes more bread and rolls every day than salty snacks, bread consumption contributes more to sodium intake. Contained in the February edition of CDC Vital Signs, the report is timed to coincide with American Heart Month. Too much sodium in the diet increases the risk of high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Experts say most of the salt in the diet of Americans does not come from that which they add when they prepare food at home or at the table: it comes from processed and restaurant foods.
In a study presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting™ , in Dallas, Texas, researchers reported findings that indicate that elevated levels of cell-free DNA in the first trimester do not predict the subsequent development of preeclampsia. "I wanted to identify if elevated levels of cell-free fetal DNA in maternal blood early in pregnancy could identify women at risk for the subsequent development of preeclampsia. I found that there is no significant difference in levels of total or free fetal DNA in the first trimester in women who subsequently develop preeclampsia, " said Bob Silver, MD, with the University of Utah Health Sciences Center and Intermountain Healthcare, Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Silver conducted the study, entitled First Trimester Free Fetal DNA in The Maternal Circulation as a Predictor of Preeclampsia.