Issuu on Google+

Volume XXVl, No. 9 December 2012 The Independent Medical Business Newspaper Preserving the safety net Brain research Keys to healthy aging Why it’s important By Apostolos P. Georgopoulos, MD, PhD, and Margaret Y. Mahan By John Tschida B T BRAIN to page 10 PAID A number of conditions can inflict brain damage. First, there are conditions that alter the local milieu in which brain cells bathe and which can adversely modify their function or cause their death. Such conditions include high blood pressure, high lipids, environmental exposure to toxic chemicals, drug abuse, and congenital disorders of metabolism (e.g., phenylketonuria, or PKU). Other direct insults include brain injury inflicted, for example, PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE Brain insults and brain health as the result of an accident, playing rough sports, or gunshot wounds. Psychological trauma also can have serious adverse consequences resulting in brain malfunction, as in post-traumatic stress disorder. A more subtle cause of potential cell damage involves lack of neuroprotection. Neuroprotection is a relatively recent concept that has drawn considerable interest because of its potential to increase the resilience of the brain and promote brain health. The single most important neuroprotective factor is exercise. Regular physical exercise can reduce the risk for dementia by as much as 40 Detriot Lakes, MN Permit No. 2655 he brain is a huge network consisting of more than 100 billion massively interconnected and communicating cells (neurons) and support cells (glia). As a network, the brain never declines. It evolves, adapts, learns, acts; in fact, it gets better and better with time, culminating in what we collectively call “wisdom.” The problem is that the brain is made of perishable material, subject to all kinds of insults. Although repair and renewal mechanisms are present and unceasingly active, cell damage occurs and takes its toll, leading to decline in brain function because of material loss. Therefore, healthy aging translates into preserving cell biology, e.g., by avoiding disease and lifestyle behaviors that can damage cells. y many measures, Minnesota has long been a standard bearer for promoting the health and independence of individuals (of all ages) with disabilities. The community-based safety net that has been developed over the last four decades recognizes that many of our most vulnerable citizens require many areas of public policy to be working in concert for successful community living to be fully realized. It’s not uncommon for government to play a role in supporting the health, housing, transportation, and employment needs of tens of thousands of disabled Minnesotans. But that safety net is fraying at the edges. Burgeoning budget deficits at the state and federal level have led to significant cuts in payments to providers over the past several years. Demographic pressures will only increase the need for resources to support this growing population. Multiple stakeholders are demanding changes in how the current fragmented Senior and long-term care Page 20 SAFETY NET to page 12

Minnesota Physician December 2012

Related publications