January 6-12, 2012

By Dr Robert Goldman

Longevity News and Review provides readers with the latest information in breakthroughs pertaining to the extension of the healthy human lifespan. These news summaries are compiled by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M; www.worldhealth.net), a non-profit medical society composed of 24,000 physician and scientist members from 110 nations, united in a mission to advance biomedical technologies to detect, prevent and treat aging related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimise the human aging process. Dr Robert Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., D.O., FAASP, A4M Chairman, and Dr Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O., A4M President, physician co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement, distil these headlines and provide their commentary.

Meditation Promotes Mindfulness
The Default Mode Network (DMN) involves regions of the brain associated with mind-wandering – namely, the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate corticies, that may cause lapses in attention and anxiety. To assess whether mindfulness-based meditation can reduce activity along this brain axis, Judson Brewer, from Yale University School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed 12 experienced mindfulness meditation practitioners, and a group of 13 control subjects who never practiced the technique. The researchers used functional MRI to assess brain activation during both a resting state and a meditation period in each subject. Compared with novice meditators, experienced study participants had significant deactivation in parts of the brain associated with the DMN. As well, the team found that practiced meditators reported less mind-wandering during meditation than did their less experienced counterparts. The study authors conclude that: “Our findings demonstrate differences in the default-mode network that are consistent with decreased mind-wandering. As such, these provide a unique understanding of possible neural mechanisms of meditation.”

Dr Klatz observes: In revealing the mechanism by which meditation diminishes activity in areas of the brain associated with mind-wandering, this team identifies a key mechanism that promotes mental acuity and awareness.

Healthy Weight Fights Gum Disease
Periodontitis and obesity are both chronic health problems, and some studies suggest an association between the two conditions. D. Lakkis, from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, and colleagues studied 31 obese people who underwent treatment for gum disease. Half of the patients (average body-mass index [BMI] of 39 kg/m2) had gastric bypass weight loss surgery and also had fat cells removed from their abdomen. The other patients (average BMI of 35 kg/m2) did not have gastric bypass surgery or fat removed from their abdomen. All the participants underwent nonsurgical periodontal (gum) treatments of scaling/root planing and received instructions for oral hygiene at home. Both groups showed overall improvement in gum health but those in the surgery group showed greater improvement on measures for periodontal attachment, bleeding, probing depths and plaque levels. The study authors comment that: “An improved response to non-surgical periodontal therapy is observed in obese patients who had significant weight loss following bariatric surgery compared to obese subject who did not have such a surgery.”

Remarks Dr Goldman: Reporting that a healthy body-mass index may ward off gum disease, these researchers add evidence that further advances the multiple and wide-ranging health benefits of maintaining a fit physique.

Blood-Pressure Monitoring Spots Decline
At-home (ambulatory) blood pressure monitoring is a readily accessible method for health assessment. William B. White, from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and colleagues, evaluated 72 men and women, ages 75 to 89 years, who underwent 24-hour at-home blood pressure  monitoring. The process revealed statistically significant white matter hyperintensities – lesions of the brain associated with cognitive decline – as compared with clinic blood pressure measurements. Further, the changes in home blood pressure monitoring were more closely associated with changes in functional parameters, including nonsignificant changes for walking time, and tests that measured the speed of visual search, attention, mental flexibility and motor function. Submitting that: “These data demonstrate for the first time the importance of 24-hour systolic [blood pressure] in the progression of brain white matter hyperintensity volume burden associated with impairment of cognitive function in older people,” the study authors urge that: “The 24-hour systolic [blood pressure] may be a potential target for intervention in the elderly to reduce vascular disease of the brain and impairment of function.”

Comments Dr Klatz: Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring helps to predict white matter lesions on MRI, a marker of mobility and cognitive decline. This at-home assessment method may hold promise as a key early assessment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Anti-aging medicine is the fastest-growing medical specialty throughout the world and is founded on the application of advanced scientific and medical technologies for the early detection, prevention, treatment, and reversal of age-related dysfunction, disorders, and diseases. It is a healthcare model promoting innovative science and research to prolong the healthy lifespan in humans. As such, anti-aging medicine is based on solid scientific principles of responsible medical care that are consistent with those applied in other preventive health specialties. The goal of anti-aging medicine is not to merely prolong the total years of an individual’s life, but to ensure that those years are enjoyed in a productive and vital fashion.

Visit the A4M’s World Health Network website, at www.worldhealth.net, to learn more about the A4M and its educational endeavours and to sign-up for your free subscription to Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.

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