Study: healthy heart now, healthy brain later

Study: healthy heart now, healthy brain later

A study published April 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with two or more vascular disease risk factors during their 50s were three times more likely to have higher levels of amyloid plaque more than 20 years later.

This means your health at midlife could help determine your risk for Alzheimer's disease later on, said Dr. Tom Mosley, Hughes Chair and Director of the MIND Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and a co-author of the paper.

“There is a growing literature that suggests that what's good for the heart is also good for the brain,” he said.

Mosley leads the Jackson, Mississippi site of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. Since 1987, ARIC has tracked the cardiovascular health of thousands of participants in Jackson; Washington County, Maryland; Forsyth County, North Carolina; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As a prospective study, ARIC “is uniquely positioned to make a landmark contribution to our understanding of risk factors for dementia,” said Mosley, co-chair of the ARIC Neurocognitive study group.

This most recent study in JAMA examined data from 322 ARIC participants. They looked at five known cardiovascular disease risk factors: diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking and high blood pressure. Each contributes to atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of arteries. As the leading direct cause of heart attack and stroke, atherosclerosis poses substantial health risks.

These five risk factors are tied to another condition: Alzheimer's disease.

“Prior work [has] found a robust relationship between cardiovascular risk factors and dementia and cognitive decline,” Mosley said. However, scientists have not identified a causal link, answering the question of what's changing inside the brain. 

Scientists think amyloid plaques - misfolded proteins - damage neurons. This may lead to Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia in the elderly.

For this study, researchers used positron emission tomography, or PET, to image amyloid in the study participants' brains 20 years after the initial ARIC exams. Nuclear medicine technologists intravenously administer a radioactive tracer called florbetapir. This attaches to the plaques in the brain. Through this uptake, the tracer helps visualize the plaques seen during PET scanning.

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Respect, compassion key to religion in workplace

They say religion and politics don't mix.

But how about religion and the workplace?

UMMC's Office of Diversity and Inclusion posed that complicated question Tuesday during an “Inclusive Conversations” series group discussion that attracted employees and students from across the spectrum. The lesson at hand was how to have a civil discussion about religion, faith and professionalism in the workplace, and to make more inclusive communities for those with varying religions and ethical or moral beliefs.

When you're in America's Bible Belt, that can be harder than you'd think. Having respect for those whose beliefs aren't yours, however, can go a long way, a group of panelists agreed.

“Faith is a deeply personal matter. It must not be allowed to influence policy,” said Rabbi Debra Kassoff of Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson. “At the same time, strongly held faith is part of our being. It shapes how we see the world.

“For me, it's simple. Each of us should let faith shape us,” she said. “Do not allow your faith to be a measuring stick for how you judge others.”

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Respect, compassion key to religion in workplace

New faculty grow psychiatry, surgery ranks

New faculty grow psychiatry, surgery ranks

The Medical Center is proud to announce the following additions to its faculty and leadership staff.

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Pediatric nurse, academic effectiveness expert garner institutional awards

A Batson Children's Hospital nurse's ingenuity earns her a DAISY Award while the executive director for academic effectiveness claims the first Olson Award. 

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Pediatric nurse, academic effectiveness expert garner institutional awards
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