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New Medical Discoveries Related to Senior Health

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New Medical Discoveries Related to Senior Health

Residents of the Bethesda Gardens community enjoy convenient access to everything Arlington has to offer, including world-class health care facilities. Arlington Memorial, Medical Center of Arlington and Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital are all nearby, giving local residents the peace of mind of knowing they can get the care they need for acute and chronic health conditions. If you have any health concerns, you'll be pleased to know that several recent medical discoveries could change the standard of care for senior citizens in Arlington, Texas, and beyond.

Alzheimer's Drug Shows Promise

After some disappointing early results, Biogen announced that it would be seeking FDA approval for aducanumab, a drug that targets the protein fragments that have been implicated in Alzheimer's disease. Initially, Biogen planned to stop working on the drug when trials indicated that it didn't slow down cognitive decline as much as researchers hoped it would.

Fortunately, Biogen researchers reviewed the data again and determined that trial participants who took aducanumab for 18 months performed better on tests designed to assess cognitive ability and memory than participants who took a placebo. Researchers also determined that people who took aducanumab showed a "substantial reduction" in the brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. The drug isn't available yet, but it does show some promise in slowing the progression of cognitive decline.

Smart Inhalers to Treat Asthma Symptoms

Asthma is a common problem for people over the age of 65, but the introduction of smart inhalers could make it easier for seniors to manage their asthma symptoms. Smart inhalers use Bluetooth technology to remind people to use their inhaled medications, which may help prevent asthma attacks or stop an attack once it starts.

Some smart inhalers also record the dates and times they're used, which can help medical professionals determine if someone needs additional support to increase medication compliance. If you have asthma, using a smart inhaler could help you stick to your medication regimen.

Advances in Organ Transplantation

The American Transplant Foundation reports that more than 100,000 Americans are waiting for an organ transplant at any given time. The demand for organs far exceeds the supply, leaving medical professionals to make difficult choices about who will receive life-saving transplants. With advances in 3-D printing, that could change. Thanks to a process known as bioprinting, researchers can now make organs out of cells, proteins and plastic that are compatible with living tissue. In the future, advances in bioprinting could eliminate the need for humans to donate their organs, ensuring that everyone who needs a transplant can get one.

Immunotherapy for Cancer

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are effective for killing cancer cells, but they also wipe out healthy cells, which can cause fatigue, nausea and other side effects. Immunotherapy, one of the newest treatments available, takes a different approach to treating cancer. Instead of killing cancer cells directly, immunotherapy uses the immune system to destroy cancerous cells without damaging healthy ones.

Several types of immunotherapy are currently available for people with cancer. With CAR T-cell therapy, scientists take a person's immune cells and engineer them to produce a cancer-fighting protein. Checkpoint inhibitors make the immune system more active, enabling T-cells to do a better job fighting tumors. Vaccines help the immune system protect the human body against cancerous cells. Although immunotherapy is relatively new, it's already being used to treat cancers of the bladder, kidneys, lungs and skin.

Wireless Sensors

Advances in technology have made it easier for medical professionals to monitor people, and they've also made it easier for seniors to receive the treatment they need for conditions that affect the brain and spine. One such advancement is the development of wireless brain sensors that eventually dissolve. These sensors are used to detect a person's temperature and intracranial pressure, giving physicians the data they need to make important treatment decisions.

For example, wireless brain sensors could be used to monitor people with concussions or other traumatic brain injuries to determine if medical intervention is necessary. When the sensors are no longer needed, they're absorbed into the body, eliminating the need to perform a surgical removal procedure. Using these sensors can help seniors avoid invasive surgeries, reduce the amount of money spent treating traumatic brain injuries and ensure that health care providers have the information they need to make split-second medical decisions.

Alternatives to Opioids

If you have arthritis, degenerative disk disease or any other condition that causes chronic pain, you may be taking opioid analgesics to keep your pain in check. Although opioids are effective, they can also be habit-forming, prompting some researchers to explore alternatives. Pharmacogenic testing makes it possible to predict how your body is likely to respond to opioids, giving your health care provider additional information that can be used to make treatment decisions.

For example, if pharmacogenetic testing shows that you're unlikely to experience adequate pain relief when taking opioids, your doctor can prescribe a different type of pain reliever. This type of testing may also be useful for determining the right dosage of an opioid medication, reducing the risk of dependence.