Research

Roundup: More Cases of 'Mild Cognitive Impairment'; E-cigs Linked to Prediabetes; and More

Report: Cases of ‘Mild Cognitive Impairment’ on the Rise in Those 60 and Older

A new report from the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 12 percent to 18 percent of people age 60 or older have “mild cognitive impairment,” or MCI. That percentage is expected to continue to rise as the size of the U.S. population age 65 and older continues to grow (from 58 million in 2021 to 88 million by 2050), the association states.

It is estimated up to 15 percent of individuals with MCI go on to develop Alzheimer’s or other dementias each year, the report adds. 

“Mild cognitive impairment is often confused with ‘normal aging,’ but is not part of the typical aging process,” said Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., chief science officer, Alzheimer’s Association. “Distinguishing between cognitive issues resulting from normal aging, those associated with MCI and those related to MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease is critical in helping individuals, their families and physicians prepare for future treatment and care.”

It is vital that seniors to consult with their primary care physicians regarding any memory loss or cognitive problems, the association’s report states.

Despite the prevalence of MCI, the new report included a survey that found more than 4 in 5 Americans (82 percent) know very little or are not familiar with MCI. “When prompted with a description of MCI, more than half (55 percent) say MCI sounds like ‘normal aging,’ ” states the Alzheimer’s Association.

Additional findings indicate why individuals showing MCI symptoms are reluctant to discuss them with their doctors. Fewer than half of respondents (40 percent) said they would see a doctor right away if they experienced MCI symptoms, while the majority (60 percent) would wait or not see a doctor at all.

Dr. Carrillo adds: “While currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, intervening earlier offers an opportunity to better manage the disease and to potentially slow progression during a time when individuals are functioning independently and maintaining a good quality of life.”


E-Cigarette Use Linked to Higher Risk of Prediabetes, Study Says

The use of e-cigarettes, also referred to as vapes or vaping devices, is being linked to increased odds of prediabetes, according to a new analysis of data from a large survey published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“These findings may guide researchers, healthcare providers, and regulators about the risk of prediabetes among e-cigarette users, particularly among young adults,” concludes the study.

The new research marks the latest evidence of the detrimental health effects of e-cigs. Among the 600,046 survey respondents, about 66,000 individuals were current e-cigarette users who state they had been diagnosed with prediabetes. They were all sole e-cig users, meaning that they did not smoke traditional, combustible cigarettes, the researchers said. 

The majority of current e-cig users surveyed were in the age group of 18-34.

The study could not rule out diet-related information. “More prospective studies are needed to assess the dose–response relationship between E-cigarette use and prediabetes risk,” the study concludes.

E-cigarettes, or vaping products, continue to increase in popularity, especially among teenagers and young adults. These e-cigs can increase the potency of nicotine, one of the most addictive chemicals, delivered to the lungs of the user. The possible link between vaping products and cancer has yet to be established because e-cigarettes have been on the market for just a few years, say U.S. public health officials.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states: “In addition to exposing people to risks of tobacco-related disease and death, FDA has received reports from the public about safety problems associated with vaping products including: Overheating, fires, and explosions; lung injuries; and seizures and other neurological symptoms.”

Just weeks before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a study in the JAMA Pediatrics, published by the American Medical Association, found that nearly a quarter of young adults, ages 19 to 34, and a fifth of adolescents, ages 12 to 18, in the U.S. have “prediabetes” — a possible precursor to type 2 diabetes.

That’s in addition to existing data that shows more than 34 million Americans are living with diabetes, and another 88 million are living with prediabetes (about 1-in-3 adults). Prediabetes means a person’s blood glucose (sugar) level is higher than normal, but not high enough yet for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.


New CDC Study: Vaccinated Children 5 and Older Well Protected Against Delta, Omicron Variants

U.S. public health officials say new research confirms that children, ages 5 to 15 years, who are vaccinated against COVID-19 were well protected from symptomatic illness with both the Delta and Omicron virus variants.

Two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine reduced the risk of Omicron infection by 31 percent among children aged 5–11 years, and by 59 percent among those aged 12–15 years, according to a new study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID vaccines for children under 5 have yet to be approved.

“This study provides evidence that receipt of 2 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective in preventing both asymptomatic and symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection with the Omicron variant among children and adolescents aged 5–15 years,” the CDC states. “All eligible children and adolescents should remain up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Fully vaccinated children, ages 5-15, who developed symptomatic COVID-19 infections during the Omicron surge spent an average of 1.4 days sick in bed, compared to the 1.9 days that unvaccinated children spent bed-ridden, researchers found.

Among unvaccinated children who tested positive for COVID, 66 percent of those with the Delta variant reported symptoms, compared to 49 percent of those with Omicron who tested positive.

The study monitored 1,052 children, ages 5-11, and 312 children, ages 12-15, who were tested weekly for COVID infection regardless of symptoms. The study ran from July 25 to February 12, a time period which covered both the Delta and Omicron surges.

The new study followed both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, but previous research has focused primarily on symptomatic COVID patients who sought medical care.

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