In Pictures: Italian Maritozzo in Japan

Statins May Reduce Death from, Severity of COVID-19 Among Those with Heart Disease or High Blood Pressure

Research published today in The Public Library of Science ONE, PLOS ONE, examined the relationship between use of medications to control cholesterol or blood pressure levels, and the risk of death among people who were hospitalized due to COVID-19.

In an analysis of more than 10,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients across the United States, the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, prior to admission was associated with a more than 40% reduction in in-hospital death, and a greater than 25% reduction in the risk of developing a severe outcome. The analysis compared similar patients who did and did not use statins or anti-hypertensive medication, among those both with and without underlying health conditions.

“Early during the pandemic, there were questions as to whether certain cardiovascular medications might worsen COVID-19 infections,” said Lori Daniels, M.D., M.A.S., lead author of the study, professor and director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health. “We found that not only are statins and anti-hypertensive medications safe – they may very well be protective in patients hospitalized for COVID, especially among those with a history of hypertension or cardiovascular disease.”

This research sought to understand the relations between prior medication exposure, existing health conditions and COVID-19 outcomes using data from the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry. The COVID-19 CVD Registry, powered by the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines® platform, contains de-identified health data on patients treated for COVID-19 at over 140 participating hospitals across the country. As of July 2021, data from more than 49,000 patient records had been contributed into the platform.

“There is much to be learned about the impacts COVID-19 has on the heart and our cardiovascular system,” said Sandeep R. Das, M.D., MPH, MBA, FACC, FAHA, American Heart Association volunteer expert, COVID-19 CVD Registry committee co-chair and director for quality and value, cardiology division for UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Research like this is encouraging and has the potential to accelerate treatment patterns as we continue to examine best practices and novel pathways that improve patient outcomes.”

i>Source: American Heart Association

In Pictures: Limited-time Menu of Hawaiian Dishes Offered by Sizzler Restaurants in Japan

Tips for Building a More Alzheimer’s-resistant Brain

Gina Shaw wrote . . . . . . . . .

Lauren Miller Rogen knows that Alzheimer’s disease runs in her family, but she’s not assuming it’s her fate. “I’ve heard a lot of smart people say that your genes may be the map, but they don’t have to be your destination,” she says.

“You don’t have control over your genes or your family history,” says Liana Apostolova, MS, MD, FAAN, endowed professor of Alzheimer’s disease research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. “But many things may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

Research shows that Alzheimer’s disease begins in the brain at least 15 years before the first symptoms of memory loss appear, which is why it’s important to protect your brain from an early age. Recently, a new review and analysis of hundreds of major trials, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, pinpointed several significant risk factors—and offered a list of habits people can adopt to possibly lower their risk for the disease.

Most of these recommendations revolve around five key areas that Lauren Miller Rogen and Seth Rogen’s charity, HFC, focuses on in its public awareness campaigns: exercise, nutrition, mental fitness, sleep, and emotional well-being. Acting on them doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed not to develop dementia, but you can do your best to build what HFC calls a “more Alzheimer’s-resistant brain.”

Exercise

Lots of studies have found that physical fitness can translate into mental fitness. The hippocampus—the part of the brain primarily responsible for memory and learning—is larger in people who are more physically fit, and exercise has even been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus in older adults, which improves memory function.

“We have clear evidence that physical activity helps maintain cognition, reduces levels of stress—which itself contributes to cognitive decline—and increases levels of proteins in the brain that help maintain its functioning,” says Sudha Seshadri, MD, founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Pick something you’ll stick with and aim for 30 minutes at least five days a week.

Nutrition

“We know that a brain-healthy diet and a heart-healthy diet are essentially the same thing,” says Dr. Apostolova. Most experts recommend following the “Mediterranean diet”—plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, olive oil as a primary fat source, and moderate amounts of eggs, fish, poultry, and dairy. The diet is endorsed by the American Heart Association, and in several studies has been associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline.

Together, a healthy diet and exercise protect against high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which are significant risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. “And we know that it’s not just your blood pressure or having diabetes in your sixties or seventies that puts you at risk for dementia, but your accumulated exposure over a lifetime,” says Dr. Seshadri. “Midlife hypertension and diabetes affect your brain, and the period we define as ‘midlife’ seems to go back further and further as we get more sensitive ways of detecting brain injury.”

Don’t waste your money on products advertised as “brain health supplements,” however.

“If you have a diagnosed deficiency in a certain nutrient, then supplementing to a normal range can be beneficial, but if you’re eating a healthy diet and have a normal nutritional intake, there’s no need for that,” says James Burke, MD, PhD, professor of neurology at the Duke University School of Medicine.

Mental Fitness

“I sometimes joke that Head Start is an antidementia program,” says Dr. Seshadri. That’s because research has found that education, from early childhood through adulthood, helps prevent cognitive decline later in life.

“The more education people get, the more protection they have against cognitive decline in general,” says Dr. Apostolova. “There’s also something we call ‘cognitive reserve’: the brain’s ability to compensate for damage with more efficient connections and processing. That’s increased by education.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that if you never got a college degree, you’re out of luck. “It seems that a wide range of mental and social activities, begun early and continued throughout life, is important,” says Dr. Seshadri.

Rather than focusing on touted “memory training” programs, exercise your brain with intellectual and social activities. “If you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re more likely to continue doing it, whether that’s reading, doing puzzles or games, learning a language, or even dancing, which combines an intellectual and a physical component,” says Dr. Burke. “If you’re musically minded, pick up the guitar or violin. Stretch your brain in ways that are meaningful to you.”

Sleep

You can protect your brain simply by going to bed. “Sleep is a period of recovery during which buildup of harmful amyloid and tau proteins can be removed from the brain, especially during periods of deep sleep,” says Dr. Seshadri.

Being chronically sleep deprived, studies suggest, may increase your long-term risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Even one night of sleep deprivation has been found to raise levels of amyloid and tau in the brain.

Go to bed at the same time every night (even on weekends); avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening; don’t exercise right before bed; and keep your bedroom cool, comfortable, and free of distractions.

Emotional Well-Being

Depression and stress are contributing factors in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, so caring for yourself emotionally is an important part of maintaining your brain health. Spend more time out in nature; pursue mind-body wellness activities like meditation, tai chi, or yoga; and set aside time to socialize, either in person or virtually. You can even view hanging out with your best friend after work or reconnecting with your college housemates on a group Zoom call as an important wellness activity!

Source: Brain and Life

Crepes Suzette

Ingredients

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
Brandy

Orange Sauce

12 sugar cubes
2 oranges
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. grated orange rind
1 cup orange juice
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or orange Curacao liqueur

Method

  1. Make the sauce. Rub the sugar cubes over the orange skins until each cube is yellow. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir in the confectioners’ sugar until blended, using a wooden spoon.
  3. Stir in the rind, orange juice and lemon juice. Add the sugar cubes, then cook over very low heat, pressing with the back of the spoon until dissolved.
  4. Add the Grand Marnier liqueur and cook until syrupy, stirring constantly. This makes 2 cups of sauce.
  5. Sift the flour and sugar together.
  6. Beat the eggs in a medium-sized mixing bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed for 5 minutes or until thick.
  7. Add the flour mixture gradually, beating constantly until smooth.
  8. Add the milk, water and 2 tablespoons of brandy gradually and stir until the batter is smooth. Let stand for 30 minutes before using.
  9. Place a crepe or omelet pan over medium heat, then brush with oil.
  10. Lift pan from heat and pour the batter on the side in a very thin layer.
  11. Swirl the pan so the batter completely covers the bottom thinly. Return to heat and cook until set and edge is dry.
  12. Slide a spatula under the edge of crepe to loosen.
  13. Lift carefully with a spatula and turn over gently, then cook just for several seconds.
  14. Remove from heat, then shake pan to loosen and slide out onto oiled paper. Continue to cook crepes until all the batter is used.
  15. Use butter to grease the pan. Turn very carefully as the crepes are delicate. Grease the pan with additional butter as needed. Crepes may be kept warm in a 250°F oven until ready to serve.
  16. Fold crepes into quarters and place in hot Orange Sauce in a chafing dish or heated serving dish. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of heated brandy and ignite. Serve the crepes flaming.

Makes 24 crepes.

Source: The Creative Cooking Course


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