Earlier Onset of High Blood Pressure Affects Brain Structure, May Increase Dementia Risk

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Individuals who are diagnosed with high blood pressure at ages 35-44 had smaller brain size and were more likely to develop dementia compared to people who had normal blood pressure, according to new research published in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.

The results raise the possibility that taking steps in young adulthood to control or delay the onset of high blood pressure may reduce the risk of dementia.

“Hypertension is very common in middle-aged people (45-64 years), and early onset high blood pressure is becoming more common. Although the association among hypertension, brain health and dementia in later life has been well-established, it was unknown how age at onset of hypertension may affect this association. If this is proven, it would provide some important evidence to suggest earlier intervention to delay the onset of hypertension, which may, in turn, be beneficial in preventing dementia,” said Mingguang He, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study and professor of ophthalmic epidemiology at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia.

The researchers analyzed data from participants in the UK Biobank, a large database containing detailed anonymous health information of about half a million volunteer participants in the United Kingdom. To determine brain changes, they compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurements of brain volume between two large groups of adults in the database: 11,399 people with high blood pressure diagnosed at different ages (younger than age 35; 35-44 years; and 45-54 years), and 11,399 participants who did not have high blood pressure, matched for age and multiple health-related variables. Participants entered the databank between 2006 and 2010, and they had MRI brain scans between 2014 and 2019. Hypertension in this study was defined as reporting a diagnosis of hypertension (told by a doctor) or inpatient records using the codes for international classification diseases. The blood pressure reading at the time of their MRI scans was controlled in the analysis.

From the MRI scans, the investigators found:

  • In each diagnostic age category (from 35 to 54), the total brain volume was smaller in people diagnosed with high blood pressure, and the brain volume of several regions were also smaller compared to the participants who did not have high blood pressure;
  • Hypertension diagnosed before age 35 was associated with the largest reductions in brain volume compared with controls; and
  • Among people with normal blood pressure readings at the time of their MRI scans, those who were previously diagnosed with hypertension at <35 years old had smaller total brain volume compared to people with normal blood pressure who had never been diagnosed with hypertension.

“Individuals who had hypertension diagnosed at younger ages had smaller brain volumes on these one-time measurements. Future research with brain volumes measured at multiple time points could confirm whether hypertension diagnosed at a younger age is associated with a greater decrease in brain volume over time,” said Xianwen Shang, Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study and a research fellow at the Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital in Guangzhou, China.

To evaluate dementia, the investigators examined how many participants developed dementia from any cause over a 11.9-year follow-up period, comparing 124,053 people with high blood pressure and 124,053 matched adults who did not have high blood pressure. During the follow-up period (up to 14 years; median of 11.9 years), 4,626 people developed some form of dementia. Analyzing the occurrence of dementia in relation to blood pressure diagnosis, the researchers found:

  • The risk of dementia from any cause was significantly higher (61%) in people diagnosed with high blood pressure between the ages of 35 and 44 compared to participants who did not have high blood pressure.
  • The risk of vascular dementia (a common form of dementia resulting from impaired blood flow to parts of the brain, as might happen after one or more small strokes) was 45% higher in the adults diagnosed with hypertension between ages 45-54 and 69% higher in those diagnosed between ages 35-44, compared to participants of the same age without high blood pressure.
  • Although vascular dementia risk was 80% higher in those diagnosed with high blood pressure before age 35, there were fewer cases of dementia among the younger participants, and the association with high blood pressure was not statistically significant, whereas the risk association was meaningful for individuals ages 45-54 with high blood pressure.
  • In contrast to vascular dementia, no relationship was found between age at hypertension diagnosis and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia linked to proteins that disrupt brain function.

“Our study’s results provide evidence to suggest an early age at onset of hypertension is associated with the occurrence of dementia and, more importantly, this association is supported by structural changes in brain volume,” said Shang. The findings raise the possibility that better prevention and control of high blood pressure in early adulthood could help prevent dementia.

“An active screening program to identify individuals with early hypertension and provide earlier, intensive high blood pressure treatment might help reduce the risk of developing dementia in the future,” said He.

In future research, the investigators are planning to examine medical records to detect whether the onset of dementia was preceded by other medical conditions with previously established connections to dementia risk, such as diabetes or stroke, in people who developed high blood pressure during young adulthood or middle age. Results from this study of a predominantly Caucasian population are not necessarily generalizable to people from other racial or ethnic groups.

Source: American Heart Association

U.S. Company Unveils World’s First Real Honey Made Without Bees

MeliBio, Inc. the company using proprietary technology to make real honey without bees has unveiled its first product: world’s first real honey made without bees as a plant-based ingredient for B2B customers and foodservice.

More than 100 members of climate tech, food tech and investor communities in the San Francisco Bay Area had a chance to be among the first in the World to sample MeliBio’s honey made without bees at an event organized at Cell Valley Labs, an incubator and networking space in Berkeley, California.

After extensive R&D, MeliBio successfully scaled their method for making honey without bees on a manufacturing level, showing the ability to serve multiple clients in their needs for non-animal honey ingredients. The California-based company is currently taking orders from existing and new foodservice and B2B customers for deliveries starting from the end of 2021, and the beginning of 2022.

MeliBio, Inc. has developed a scientific approach to replace honeybees as a medium of honey production, and is providing solutions to several sustainability and supply chain issues of the broken honey industry valued at $9 billion in 2020. Recent studies show that the industry’s sole reliance on honeybees is making 20,000 wild and native bees crowded out from their habitats and vanishing at an accelerated rate. Additionally, the global honey supply chain faces difficulties in keeping up with demand with recent honey harvests being heavily affected by climate change causing low yields of honey and price volatility.

Darko Mandich, CEO and Co-Founder of MeliBio said: “MeliBio is founded with the mission to make food in a way to save our planet Earth by ending our use of bees in honey production, and thereby helping to restore bee biodiversity amongst native and wild bees worldwide. Scientific advancements have created a very exciting position where humans can finally make one of their favorite foods without the use of animals. Honey is an ingredient found in every product category, from food to beverage and personal care products for which MeliBio is now providing a plant-based option. By bringing delicious, nutritious and real honey made without bees to the market, we are shaping our present and future in a way that is better for bees and for humans.”

Source: Vegconomist

Special Therapy Brings Relief to Patients With Chronic Back Pain

Many people with long-term back pain have tried physical therapy and medication, to no avail. A new study suggests they might “unlearn” their discomfort in weeks — using psychological therapy.

“For a long time, we have thought that chronic pain is due primarily to problems in the body, and most treatments to date have targeted that,” said Yoni Ashar, who led the study while earning his PhD in the department of psychology and neuroscience at University of Colorado Boulder.

“This treatment is based on the premise that the brain can generate pain in the absence of injury or after an injury has healed, and that people can unlearn that pain. Our study shows it works,” Ashar said in a university news release.

The study involved 151 men and women with back pain for at least six months who took part in a four-week psychological treatment called Pain Reprocessing Therapy. They had mild to moderate pain and underwent eight one-hour sessions in all.

According to the study results, two-thirds were pain-free or nearly pain-free after treatment. And most remained free of pain for one year.

“The magnitude and durability of pain reductions we saw are very rarely observed in chronic pain treatment trials,” Ashar said. Opioids have only moderate and short-term relief in many trials, he added.

About 85% of people with chronic back pain have pain for which tests can’t find a clear bodily source, such as tissue damage, the researchers said.

Misfiring neural pathways are partly to blame, according to the study. Different brain regions activate more during chronic pain than acute pain. Among chronic pain patients, certain neural networks are sensitized to overreact to even mild stimuli.

“The idea is that by thinking about the pain as safe rather than threatening, patients can alter the brain networks reinforcing the pain, and neutralize it,” said Ashar, now a postdoctoral researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.

The goal of the treatment is to educate the patient about the role of the brain in causing chronic pain and to help them reappraise their pain as they move in ways they’d been afraid to. It also aims to help them cope with emotions that may increase their pain.

After treatment, 66% of patients in the treatment group were pain-free or nearly pain-free compared with 20% of the patients who got sham therapy and 10% of those who had no treatment.

And when people in the psychotherapy group were exposed to pain in a scanner post-treatment, brain regions associated with pain processing — including the anterior insula and anterior midcingulate — had quieted significantly.

The study focused on chronic back pain, so larger studies are needed in the future to see if the treatment would have the same results for other chronic pain.

“This study suggests a fundamentally new way to think about both the causes of chronic back pain for many people and the tools that are available to treat that pain,” said researcher Sona Dimidjian, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at CU Boulder. “It provides a potentially powerful option for people who want to live free or nearly free of pain.”

The report was published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Source: HealthDay

Stuffed Chilies in Walnut Sauce


8 ancho chilies
1 large potato, about 7 oz
3 tbsp vegetable oil
4 oz lean minced (ground) pork
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2/3 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup soft goat’s cheese
1/2 cup single (light) cream
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 eggs, separated
oil, for deep-frying
chopped fresh herbs, to garnish


  1. Soak the dried chilies in a bowl of hot water for 30 minutes until softened. Drain, cut off the stalks, then slit them down 1 side. Scrape out the seeds.
  2. Peel the potato and cut it into 1/2in cubes. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan, add the pork and cook, stirring constantly, until it has browned evenly.
  3. Add the potato cubes and mix well. Cover and cook over a low heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not worry if the potato sticks to the base of the pan. Season with salt, remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a separate frying pan and cook the onion with the cinnamon for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Stir in the nuts and cook for 3-4 minutes more.
  5. Add both types of cheese to the pan, with the cream and sherry. Mix well. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cook until the cheese melts and the sauce starts to thicken. Taste and season if necessary.
  6. Spread out the flour on a plate shallow dish. Season with the white pepper. Beat the egg yolks in a until they are pale and thick.
  7. In a separate, grease-free bowl. whisk the whites until they form soft peaks. Add a generous pinch of salt, then in the yolks, a little at a time.
  8. Spoon some of the filling into each chili. Pat the outside dry with kitchen paper. Heat the oil for deep-frying temperature of 180°C/350°F.
  9. Coat a chili in flour, then dip it in the egg batter, covering it completely. Drain for a few seconds, then add to the hot oil. Add several more battered chilies but do not overcrowd the pan. Fry the chilies until golden, then drain on kitchen paper and keep hot while cooking successive batches.
  10. Reheat the sauce over a low heat, if necessary. Arrange the chilies on individual plates, spoon a little sauce over each and serve immediately, sprinkled with chopped fresh herbs. A green salad goes well with this dish.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Mexican Red Hot Cookbook

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