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Briefs: Chronic high blood pressure may cause memory problems

HYPERTENSION MAY lead to memory trouble

Chronic high blood pressure may cause memory problems, even in middle-age people, a new study has found. The research, published in the current issue of Neurology, showed that for every 10-point increase in the diastolic blood pressure reading (the bottom number), the odds of a person having cognitive problems were 7 percent higher. High blood pressure is defined as a reading equal to or higher than 140/90. The study involved almost 20,000 people, age 45 or older, across the United States. A higher diastolic reading signals that the smaller arteries in the brain are weakening, which can result in subtle brain damage, researchers said.

Hormone therapy and heart disease

A new study links hormone therapy for prostate cancer with a higher risk of death in older men who have had serious heart problems. Hormone therapy suppresses testosterone, causing prostate tumors to shrink or grow more slowly. But it also increases risk for diabetes and heart disease. For the new study, appearing in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers followed more than 5,000 men who had brachytherapy, a type of radiation treatment, at one Illinois treatment center. Thirty percent of them also took hormone therapy for an average of four months. Among those with heart problems, the hormone treatment was linked with a 96 percent higher risk of death. "Our results should heighten awareness about the potential for harm with hormonal therapy for men with pre-existing heart disease," said lead author Dr. Akash Nanda of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program in Boston.

Expect to pay more for health care

Costs for employer-provided health plans are expected to rise more than 10 percent within the next 12 months. An aging population, rising costs and growing patient demand for services are among the reasons for the higher costs cited in an Aon Consulting survey of 60 health insurers around the country. What employees actually will pay in higher premiums varies by such factors as plan design, geography, the health of the people covered and how much of the increase employers are willing to cover.

Talk tonight will focus on ataxia

Friedreich's ataxia is an inherited neuromuscular disease that typically strikes children and teenagers. A symposium today at USF Health will bring together scientists, clinicians and patients to discuss new research into Friedreich's and other diseases that affect balance, coordination and movement. The program starts at 6 p.m. at Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare at USF Health, 13330 USF Laurel Drive, Tampa. Free. Call (813) 974-5909.

Medical insurance maxed out? Tell us

Have you maxed out your private medical insurance coverage? If you are being denied care because you have used the maximum number of days or dollars, we want to hear from you. Please send a brief summary of your situation to Lane DeGregory at degregory@sptimes.com.

Compiled from Times staff, wires

Briefs: Chronic high blood pressure may cause memory problems 08/26/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 5:52pm]

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