What are the most important discussions to have among doctors, patients and families?

It seems obvious to just ask but there is a gap between what patients would like and the care they actually receive, according to a paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Current guidelines list 11 key elements for health care providers to discuss regarding end-of-life care, although these are based mainly on expert opinion and not on patient and family feedback.

It's not all bad news for older brains. Credit: Shutterstock

By Angela Gutchess, Brandeis University

A diet rich in milk products is promoted as strengthening bones and reducing the likelihood of osteoporotic fractures, but dairy lobby marketing aside, actual research related to the benefits of milk for the prevention of fractures or influence on mortality rates has found evidence for and against.

A new study finds that high milk intake in women and men is not accompanied by a lower risk of fracture and instead may be associated with a higher rate of death. 

A few months ago, a Chinese team writing in Nature claimed to have found the cause for why organisms age, but a new group refuted a basic assumption of the Nature article. 

A new paper from the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) says that one-third of all hip fractures worldwide occur in men, with mortality rates as high as 37% in the first year following fracture.

This makes men twice as likely as women to die after a hip fracture. Osteoporosis experts warn that as men often remain undiagnosed and untreated, millions are left vulnerable to early death and disability, irrespective of fracture type. 

No one knows you like you know yourself so if you think your memory is slipping, you may be onto something. Self-reported memory complaints are strong predictors of clinical memory impairment later in life. 

 Richard Kryscio, PhD, Chairman of the Department of of Biostatistics and Associate Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at the University of Kentucky, and colleagues asked 531 people with an average age of 73 and free of dementia if they had noticed any changes in their memory in the prior year. The participants were also given annual memory and thinking tests for an average of 10 years. After death, participants' brains were examined for evidence of Alzheimer's disease.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and while there are obvious environmental factors such as diet, exercise and behavior, many lines of evidence suggest that the risk of stroke is heritable. Yet until now, only a small number of genes associated with stroke have been identified. 

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation identifies two genes that underlie cerebral small-vessel disease (CSVD), a risk factor for stroke.

Ordan Lehmann and colleagues at the University of Alberta analyzed genome-wide association data from individuals that received brain MRI scans as part of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) study.

In the developed world, people are having fewer children and living longer and that has led to a population that is older than in the past.

On average, life expectancy in developed countries has risen at a pace of three months per year, and fertility has fallen below replacement rate in the majority of Europe and some other developed countries. Most academic discussion of this trend has so far focused on potential problems - when social security was young there were over 20 workers per retiree and now there are 3 - and that is without the entire Baby Boom being retired and incurring healthcare costs.

Good nose. Credit:  Lowjumpingfrog, CC BY

By Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, University of Liverpool