What causes Alzheimer’s disease? What we know, don’t know and suspect

This article by by Yen Ying Lim, Research Fellow, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health looks at what we currently know, what we don’t know, and what we suspect about Alzheimer’s disease | Via The Conversation

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Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which is an umbrella term used to describe general loss of memory, thinking skills and other day-to-day functions.

A hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is gradual deterioration of memory. But it is a biological disease, which means that, besides seeing outwards symptoms such as memory loss, we can also measure the breakdown that occurs in the brain as a consequence of disease progression.

In this article, the author examines a range of issues associated with Alzheimer’s disease including:

  • Amyloid and tau
  • The role of genes
  • Diet, diabetes and obesity
  • Physical activity
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Cognitive reserve or resilience
  • Preventing Alzheimer’s disease

Six-month-plus surgery waits triple in four years

The number of patients waiting longer than six months for surgical treatment in England has almost tripled in the past four years, according to the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS)

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The RCS has today released a new analysis of waiting times data showing that, in March 2017, the number of patients waiting more than 26 weeks for treatment was 126,188, while in March 2013 (the year when six-month waiters were at their lowest level), 45,054 patients were waiting more than six months.

The data analysed shows that patients awaiting some types of surgery were experiencing particularly strong rises in waits for six or more months between March 2013 and March 2017. These included:

  • ear, nose and throat – a 256% rise
  • urology – 199% rise
  • general surgery – 146% rise
  • oral surgery – 146% rise
  • brain and spinal surgery – 145% rise

In addition, the analysis showed that the number of patients waiting more than nine months (39 weeks) for treatment rose by 209% during the same period. This was a rise from 6,415 patients in March 2013 to 19,838 patients in March 2017.

More via OnMedica

Full detail: Consultant-led Referral to Treatment Waiting Times

 

TVs in the bedroom linked to childhood obesity, study finds

Scientists say there is a clear link between having a TV in your bedroom as a young child and becoming overweight later in childhood | | International Journal of Obesity | Story via The Guardian 

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Children who have TVs in their bedrooms are more likely to be overweight than those who do not, a study by University College London scientists suggests.

Sitting still for long periods watching TV has long been thought to be one of the changes in behaviour of the last few decades that could be contributing to the obesity epidemic. It has been suspected that having a TV in the bedroom might exacerbate the problem. Children or adolescents might be snacking unobserved, they could be exposed to advertising for junk food while watching adult programmes and they may not sleep as well, which is also linked to putting on weight.

Published in the International Journal of Obesity, the research used data on more than 12,000 children born in 2000/2001 who were recruited to the UK Millennium Cohort Study, set up to look at the influences on children’s development into adulthood. They investigated the data from the age of seven to 11. More than half had a TV in their bedroom.

They found that girls who had a TV in their bedroom at age seven were at an approximately 30% higher risk of being overweight at age 11, compared to children who did not have a TV in their bedroom. Boys were 20% more likely to become overweight.

Full story : The Guardian

See also: TVs in children’s bedrooms ‘increase risk of obesity’ | BBC

Full reference: Heilmann, A et al. | Longitudinal associations between television in the bedroom and body fatness in a UK cohort study | International Journal of Obesity | article preview 1 June 2017

Parents’ phone addiction may lead to child behavioural problems

Study suggests that when parents report being distracted by digital technology, this causes interruptions in interactions with their children. | story via The Guardian

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A recent study investigated the impact of “technoference” – when people switch their attention away from others to check their phone or tablet.

The study, carried out in the US, involved more than 300 parents who reported on their use of digital technology, to see if they felt it affected interactions with their children and actual child behaviours. A range of technology devices were studied, including smartphones, computers, television and tablets.

It found half of parents reported that their use of technology disrupted interactions with their child three or more times a day. Behavioural problems in children were linked to these disruptions.

Key findings:

  • On average, mothers and fathers reported about two devices as interfering in their interactions with their child at least once or more on a typical day.
  • Parents reporting problematic use of digital technology (40% of mothers and 32% of fathers) was correlated with technoference with their child.
  • Perceived technoference in mother-child interactions was linked to child behavioural problems – both externalising and internalising behaviour – as rated by mothers and fathers.
  • However, perceived technoference in father-child interactions was not linked to behavioural issues.
  • Only 11% of parents reported that technoference did not occur and 48% reported three or more times on a typical day.

Read more via The Guardian

Full reference: McDaniel BT, Radesky JS. Technoference: Parent Distraction With Technology and Associations With Child Behavior Problems. Child Development. Published online May 10 2017

 

 

Mental health issues higher in public sector workers

Survey from Mental Health charity, Mind finds a higher prevalence of mental health problems in the public sector, as well as a lack of support available when people do speak up.

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The charity surveyed over 12,000 employees across the public and private sectors and found that public sector workers were more likely to say their mental health was poor than their peers in the private sector (15% versus 9%), and far more likely to say they had felt anxious at work on several occasions over the last month (53% compared to 43%).

Public sector workers were more likely to disclose that they had a mental health problem (90% versus 80% in the private sector), were more likely to be honest about the reason for needing time off (69% versus 59%), and more likely to report that the workplace culture made it possible for people to speak openly about their mental health (38% versus 29%).

However, when public sector employees admitted mental health problems, less than half (49%) of them said they felt supported, compared with 61% of staff from the private sector.

Full story: Mind reveals shocking differences in mental health support for public & private sector workers

Healthy Commissioning

New report shows that only a minority of NHS commissioners making active use of Social Value Act | National Voices | Social Enterprise UK

New research conducted by National Voices and Social Enterprise UK, found that only 13% of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) can clearly show that they are actively committed to pursuing social value in their procurement and commissioning decisions.

The authors of Healthy Commissioning warn that improved commitment to social value is vital to achieving the Five Year Forward View aim of creating a ‘new relationship with people and communities’ and NHS plans to move to more place-based ‘accountable care systems’. It is also vital to making sure the public pound is used as effectively as possible.

The Public Services (Social Value Act) 2012 requires commissioners to consider broader social, economic and environmental benefits to their area when making commissioning decisions.

The researchers found that:

  • 43% of respondents either had no policy on the Social Value Act; were not aware of a policy; or had a policy in some stage of development.
  • Just 25 CCGs (13%) demonstrated what the authors define as ‘highly committed, evidenced and active’ use of the Social Value Act.
  • Weighting procurement for social value, even amongst the most highly committed CCGs, is limited and low. A pass/fail question or a weighting of 2% of the total evaluation was common.
  • Analysis of Sustainability and Transformation Plans found that just 13% mention social value.

Download the full report : Healthy Commissioning: How the Social Value Act is being used by Clinical Commissioning Groups