What if scientists could combine the latest in genetics and brain science with decades of rich data from research and clinical visits? That interdisciplinary cross-fertilization is just what’s happening with Adult Changes in Thought (ACT), a joint Group Health–University of Washington (UW) study funded by the National Institute on Aging. After decades of studying Group Health seniors to pinpoint risk factors for conditions including dementia, ACT researchers are now collaborating with new partners to learn even more.
As a health services researcher, I know the toll society pays when we fail to help patients talk about and plan for eventualities like end-of-life care. Surveys show most Americans would prefer to die peacefully at home—and a recent study shows increasingly more are doing so. But the same study also reports that in their last three months, more patients are being hospitalized—and more often in intensive care units.
Last month brought good news for those interested in preventing or delaying dementia—which is predicted to triple between now and the year 2050, affecting 115 billion people worldwide.
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has awarded a new $2.37-million grant to help Seattle-area researchers embark on an important research effort designed to investigate the lasting effects of traumatic brain injuries—an area that has long been filled with question marks for physicians and scientists.
A joint Group Health–University of Washington (UW) study in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that higher blood sugar levels are associated with higher dementia risk, even among people who do not have diabetes. Blood sugar levels averaged over a five-year period were associated with rising risks for developing dementia, in this report about more than 2,000 Group Health patients age 65 and older in the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study.
Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH, is leading a study of pneumococcal vaccine in older adults at six Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs) across the nation, including at Group Health. Dr. Jackson, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute, leads the Seattle-area VTEU. Dr. Jackson and her colleagues plan to see if a higher dose of a pneumococcal vaccine will create a stronger immune response in older adults who received an earlier-generation vaccine against pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases.
Compared to individuals without dementia, people who subsequently developed dementia had a significantly higher rate of hospital admissions for all causes. They also had more admissions for “ambulatory care-sensitive” conditions, for which proactive care may have prevented hospitalizations. This suggests opportunities for improving outpatient care of seniors with dementia, according to research in the January 11 Journal of the American Medical Association.
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