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Esteban Delisio





    Restricted activity, defined as spending at least half a day in bed, or cutting down on activities due to illness or injury, affects more than three-quarters of elderly people, Yale researchers report in a new study. Many of these people do not seek medical attention. Lead investigator Thomas M. Gill, M.D., and his colleagues followed 754 people aged 70 or more for an average of 15 months. Seventy-seven percent of the participants reported restricted activity during at least one month, and 39 percent reported restricted activity for two consecutive months. Fatigue, back or joint pain or stiffness, and dizziness or unsteadiness were the most common causes. The participants did not seek medical care when they restricted their activity and often had to curtail their doctor visits. Gill warns family and friends not to accept restricted activity as an inevitable part of aging and to help their older loved ones seek medical attention to restore their independe! nce.
    Vitamin D combined with hormone replacement therapy can increase bone density by as much as 12 percent in elderly women, say researchers at Creighton University. After studying 500 elderly women for three years, the scientists, led by J. Chris Gallagher, M.D., found that HRT by itself increased bone density in the spine and hip by five percent and four percent, respectively. Adding vitamin D to the regimen boosted spine and hip density by seven percent and five percent. They also noticed that the use of vitamin D significantly reduced the number of falls that elderly women suffered over three years by about 30 percent, and also tended to reduce the chance of fractures. These results show that combination therapy can make some women more responsive to HRT and increase their gain in bone density, says Gallagher. "Combination therapy is best used in women who lose bone on a single drug, or who present with multiple fractures."
    A new study suggests that the panoramic or wide-angle radiography used in some dental offices can reveal neck arteries blocked by atheromas, or hardened fatty tissue, in some older women. The atheromas develop as estrogen levels decline during and after menopause. They build up in the carotid artery in the neck, where they can block blood flow from the heart to the brain, leading to the possibility of a stroke. Arthur H. Friedlander, D.D.S., and Lisa Altman, M.D., of UCLA, assessed the dental x-rays and medical records of women whose average age was about 70. Radiographs of 16 women (31 percent) revealed atheromas in the neck. Those women also had many of the risk factors associated with stroke: obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, or a history of smoking. Women or men whose dental x-rays show calcified atheromas should be referred to their physicians for confirmation of these findings, Friedlander and Altman write.
    It is relatively rare in the United States, but malaria remains a scourge throughout most of the world: it infects 300 million to 500 million people annually and causes 1.5 million to 3 million deaths. The most commonly fatal strain of the malaria parasite is showing considerable resistance to current treatments, making the development of new drugs a priority. Now researchers at Johns Hopkins University have designed a new drug to fight malaria that has passed the first stages of testing in mice and rats. Not only does it appear to be safe and effective, it is water-soluble and thus easily administered either orally or intravenously. Compounds the parasite normally creates as part of its metabolism combine with the drug to create harmful substances that prove fatal to the bug. The research team, led by Gary Posner, professor of chemistry at Johns Hopkins, used a technique he calls "molecular architecture" to design molecules with better malaria-fighting c! haracteristics. Future plans include the production of about two pounds of the drug for testing in larger animals and humans.
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