Poor and Racial Minorities Have Worse Home Health Care Outcomes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karen Joynt Maddox, MD, MPH Washington University School of Medicine Saint Louis MO

Dr. Joynt-Maddox

Karen Joynt Maddox, MD, MPH
Washington University School of Medicine
Saint Louis MO

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Home health is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Medicare, and the setting of a new federal value-based payment program, yet little is known about disparities in clinical outcomes among Medicare beneficiaries receiving home health care.

We found that beneficiaries who were poor or Black had worse clinical outcomes in home health care than their peers. These individuals were generally more likely to have unplanned hospitalizations, readmissions, and emergency department visits. Under Home Health Value-Based Purchasing, these patterns should be tracked carefully to ensure the program helps close the gaps rather than widening them.

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Diabetes In Elderly May Be Overtreated Leading To Hypoglycemia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Matthew L. Maciejewski, PhD Professor in Medicine Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine Center for Health Services Research Primary Care Durham VA Medical Center Duke University

Dr. Maciejewski

Matthew L. Maciejewski, PhD
Professor in Medicine
Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine
Center for Health Services Research Primary Care
Durham VA Medical Center
Duke University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Treating diabetes requires balancing the risks of long-term harm from under-treatment with the short-term and long-term harm from potential over-treatment. Randomized trials have shown that the benefits of aggressive glycemic control only begin after at least 8 years of treatment. Yet, the harms of aggressive glycemic control –  hypoglycemia, cardiovascular events, cognitive impairment, fractures, and death – can happen at any time.

In some older people, “deintensification” of diabetes treatment may be the safer route, because of the risks that come with too-low blood sugar. The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) specifically states that medications other than metformin should be avoided when an older patient’s hemoglobin A1c is less than 7.5%, because the risks of hypoglycemia are larger and the potential benefits of treatment are smaller for older adults with diabetes.  Most attention in prior work has focused on undertreatment of diabetes and there has been only limited investigation of patient characteristics associated with overtreatment of diabetes or severe hypoglycemia.

Since the elderly are therefore at greatest risk of overtreatment and Medicare is the primary source of care of the elderly, we examined rates of overtreatment and deintensification of therapy for Medicare beneficiaries, and whether there were any disparities in these rates.  We found that almost 11 percent of Medicare participants with diabetes had very low blood sugar levels that suggested they were being over-treated. But only 14 percent of these patients had a reduction in blood sugar medication refills in the next six months.

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Inactivity Plus Frailty Predict Mortality

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Olga Theou, MSc PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University Affiliated Scientist, Geriatric Medicine, Nova Scotia Health Authority Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of Adelaide Halifax, Nova Scotia

Dr. Theou

Olga Theou, MSc PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University
Affiliated Scientist, Geriatric Medicine, Nova Scotia Health Authority
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of Adelaide
Halifax, Nova Scotia 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We already know that moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, such as time accumulated during exercise, is associated with numerous health benefits. More recent studies also have shown that sedentary time, such as time accumulated during prolonged sitting at work, transportation, and leisure, can also increase the risk of adverse outcomes. What was not known was whether prolonged sitting affects people across different levels of frailty similarly. This is what we examined in our study.

We found that there were differences. Low frailty levels (people who are extremely healthy; frailty index score < 0.1) seemed to eliminate the increased risk of mortality associated with prolonged sitting, even among people who did not meet recommended physical activity guidelines. Among people with higher frailty levels, sedentary time was associated with mortality but only among those who did not meet recommended physical activity guidelines

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Group-Based Exercise Program Improves Mobility in Geriatric Population

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jennifer Brach, Ph.D., P.T. Associate professor, Department of physical therapy School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Brach

Jennifer Brach, Ph.D., P.T.
Associate professor, Department of physical therapy
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study compared two different group exercise programs to improve mobility in community-dwelling older adults. The first program, a seated program focused on strength, endurance and flexibility, was based on usual care. The second program, called On the Move, was conducted primarily in standing position and focused on the timing and coordination of movements important for walking. Both programs met two times per week for 12 weeks. It was found that the On the Move program was more effective at improving mobility than the usual seated program.

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Apathy Is a Risk Factor for Mortality in Nursing Home Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Johanna MH Nijsten, Msc
Clinical Neuropsychologist
Archipel Landrijt, Knowledge Center for Specialized Care
Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Department of Primary and Community Care, Radboudumc Alzheimer Center
Radboud University Medical Center
Nijmegen, the Netherlands 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Apathy is common in nursing home (NH) patients with dementia and is repeatedly found to be the most prevalent neuropsychiatric symptom. Apathy is defined by diminished or lack of motivational, goal-directed behavior, and a lack of cognition and emotional affect. Apathy leads to reduced interest and participation in the main activities of daily living, diminished initiative, early withdrawal from initiated activities, indifference, and flattening of affect.

Over the last two decades, more scientific knowledge has become available about specific fronto-subcortical systems in the brain that may be highly involved in apathy. Disruptions in these systems are found in patients with frontal lobe damage resulting from, for instance, (early-onset) dementia, traumatic brain injury, stroke, or multiple sclerosis. Fronto-subcortical circuits also play an important role in neurological disorders involving the basal ganglia such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. The neurodegenerative diseases and acquired brain injuries mentioned here are highly prevalent in patients receiving long-term NH care and the widespread clinical manifestation of apathy in NH-patients is thought to be related.

Since apathy is very common in nursing home-patients and may lead to a poor prognosis, clear insight into its risk for mortality is needed and NH-staff need to understand this risk.

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Alzheimer’s: Antidepressants Increase Risk of Head and Traumatic Brain Injuries

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Heidi Taipale, PhD Pharm Senior Researcher School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland; and Department of Clinical Neuroscience Karolinska Institutet 

Dr. Taipale

Heidi Taipale, PhD Pharm
Senior Researcher
School of Pharmacy, University of Eastern Finland; and
Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Karolinska Institutet 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Antidepressant use among older persons has been associated with an increased risk of falling and fall-related events, such as hip fractures, in previous studies. Our previous study identified risk of hip fractures in antidepressant among persons with Alzheimer’s disease. As falling is the main causal factor for head traumas and traumatic brain injuries among older persons, we hypothesized that antidepressant use could also be associated with these injuries.

We utilized a nationwide cohort of 70,718 persons newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, identified from the Finnish registers. The risk of head injuries and traumatic brain injuries was compared between persons initiating antidepressant use and comparison persons of the same age, gender and time since they received diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease but not using antidepressants. We found a 40-percent increased risk of head injuries and 30-percent increased risk of traumatic brain injuries associated with antidepressant use. Antidepressant use was associated with a higher risk of head injuries especially at the beginning of use – during the first 30 days – but the risk persisted even longer, up to two years. The association was also confirmed in a study design comparing time periods within the same person, thus eliminating selective factors. Continue reading

Elderly At Greater Risk of Falls With Intensive Blood Pressure Control

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Donal J. Sexton, BSc, MD
The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing
Trinity College Dublin
Health Research Board Clinical Research Facility Galway
National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
Trinity Health Kidney Centre, Tallaght Hospital
Department of Nephrology, Beaumont Hospital, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland
Dublin, Ireland

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In this study we used the inclusion criteria for SPRINT to identify those community dwelling elders who would meet criteria for the trial in clinical practice.

Our data are based on a prospective cohort study composed of participants chosen by a national stratified random sampling mechanism. If SPRINT participants were truly representative of the population, then the participants in the standard care arm of the trial should resemble the population to some extent. If this were true then the injurious falls rate might be similar between the two samples also.

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Frequent Sex In Older Adults Linked To Better Cognitive Function

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Hayley Wright BSc(Hons) MSc PhD C.Psychol Research Associate Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, Coventry University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Last year, we published a study that showed a significant association between sexual activity and cognitive function (Wright & Jenks, 2016). This study showed that sex is linked to cognition, even after we account for other factors such as age, education, and physical and mental wellbeing. One important question that emerged from this study was centred around the role of frequency with which we engage in sexual activity. In the current study (Wright, Jenks & Demeyere, 2017), we found that engaging in sexual activity on a weekly basis is associated with better scores on specific cognitive tasks. MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Response: We have demonstrated that sexual activity in later life may have measurable benefits that stretch beyond pleasure-seeking. We - society at large, and individual researchers - should challenge notions of embarrassment around sexuality that may prevent older people from accessing help and support for sexual or relationship issues. MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study? Response: It may be advisable to take relationship factors into account when conducting studies around cognitive ageing. Researchers often make statistical adjustments for factors that are known to influence cognition and health (such as age, education and health problems), but actually, more personal factors may also have an effect on how our brain works. MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Response: The research so far has been cross-sectional (or correlational), and so we cannot say at this time whether sexual activity is causing better scores on cognitive tests. This issue of causality is something that we will address in future research as more data becomes available. We are currently researching whether all types of sexual activities are associated with cognitive function to the same extent. We are also working with support services to address barriers to relationship and sex therapy for older people and marginalised groups. MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community. Citation: Hayley Wright, Rebecca A. Jenks, Nele Demeyere. Frequent Sexual Activity Predicts Specific Cognitive Abilities in Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 2017; DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbx065 Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

Dr. Wright

Dr Hayley Wright BSc(Hons) MSc PhD C.Psychol
Research Associate
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University
Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement,
Coventry University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Last year, we published a study that showed a significant association between sexual activity and cognitive function (Wright & Jenks, 2016). This study showed that sex is linked to cognition, even after we account for other factors such as age, education, and physical and mental wellbeing. One important question that emerged from this study was centred around the role of frequency with which we engage in sexual activity. In the current study (Wright, Jenks & Demeyere, 2017), we found that engaging in sexual activity on a weekly basis is associated with better scores on specific cognitive tasks.

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Many Older Adults Welcome A Stop To Cancer Screenings

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Nancy Schoenborn, MD Assistant Professor Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Nancy Schoenborn, MD
Assistant Professor
Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: A lot of cancer screenings are not expected to save lives until up to 10 years later; however, the side effects of the test happen right away. Because of this, clinical guidelines have recommended against routine screening for those patients who will not live long enough to benefit but may experience the potential harm of the test in the short term. However, many patients with limited life expectancy still receive screening and clinicians are worried about how patients would react if they recommended that patients stop screening. This research is important because it is the first study that explores how patients think about the decision of stopping cancer screening and how patients want to talk to their doctors about this issue. Understanding patient perspectives would help improve screening practices and better align recommendations and patient preference.

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People Who Live To 100 Do So With Fewer Chronic Illnesses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Raya Elfadel Kheirbek, MD, MPH Geriatrician and Palliative Care Physician  Washington DC VA Medical Center  Associate Professor of Medicine  George Washington University  School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Dr. Raya Elfadel Kheirbek

Raya Elfadel Kheirbek, MD, MPH
Geriatrician and Palliative Care Physician
Washington DC VA Medical Center
Associate Professor of Medicine
George Washington University
School of Medicine and Health Sciences

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In the past decade, there has been a shift in the concept of successful aging from a focus on life span to health span. We all want to age gracefully “expecting” optimal health, quality of life and independence.

Centenarians are living examples to the progress we have made in health care. They are the best example of successful aging since they have escaped, delayed or survived the major age-related diseases and have reached the extreme limit of human life. However, little is known about Veterans Centenarians’ incidence of chronic illness and its impact on survival.

Utilizing the VA Corporate Data Warehouse (CDW), I worked with my colleagues’ researchers and identified 3,351 centenarians who were born between 1910 and 1915. The majority were white men who served in World War II and had no service related disability. The study found that 85 % of all the centenarians had no incidence of major chronic conditions between the ages of 80 and 99 years of age. The data demonstrate that Veteran centenarians tend to have a better health profile and their incidence of having one or more chronic illness is lower than in the general population.

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