You can’t ‘erase’ bad memories, but you can learn ways to cope with them

The film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind pitched an interesting premise: what if we could erase unwanted memories that lead to sadness, despair, depression, or anxiety? Might this someday be possible, and do we know enough about how distressing memories are formed, stored, and retrieved to make such a therapy possible?

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a common treatment for anxiety disorders. The basic idea of CBT is to change the fear-eliciting thoughts that underlie a client’s anxiety.



Imagine the instance where a person has a dog phobia. They are likely to believe that “all dogs are dangerous”. During CBT, the client is gradually exposed to friendly dogs to cognitively reframe their thoughts or memories into something more realistic – such as the belief “most dogs are friendly”.

CBT is one of the most scientifically supported treatments for anxiety disorders. But unfortunately, a recent US study indicates that in around 50% of patients, old fear memories resurface four years after CBT or drug treatment. Put another way, the old fear memories seem impermeable to erasure through gold-standard therapy or drug treatment.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was an interesting thought experiment into whether it’s better for your well-being to erase painful memories. Focus Features/Anonymous Content/ This Is That Productions/IMDb

Why distressing memories are difficult to ‘erase’

Fear memories are stored in an old part of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala developed early in our evolutionary history because having a healthy dose of fear keeps us safe from dangerous situations that might reduce our chances of survival.


things are safe sometimes (encountering a lion in a zoo) we also need to be aware they not safe in many other circumstances (meeting a lion in the wild).

This permanent storage of a fear memory explains why relapse occurs. During therapy, a new memory – say, “most dogs are friendly” – is formed. But this new safe memory is bound to a specific context (friendly dog in the therapy room). In that context, the rational part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, puts a brake on the amygdala and tells it not to retrieve the old fear memory.

The prefrontal cortext can put a brake (blue line) on the amygdala, if it doesn’t want it to retrieve the old memory. from shutterstock.com

But what happens when a patient encounters a new context, such as a dog in a park? By default, the brain retrieves the fear memory that “all dogs are dangerous” in any context, except the one where the new safe memory occurred. That is, old fear memories can be renewed with any change in context.

This default has helped humans survive in dangerous environments throughout our evolutionary history. However, for anxious clients whose fear is unrealistic and excessive, this default to distressing memories is likely one important basis for the high rates of anxiety relapse.

So is erasure ever possible?

There are a few instances that suggest “erasure” is sometimes possible. For example, relapse is not seen early in life with non-human animals. This may be because the brake signals from the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala mature late in development. As there are no brakes, perhaps erasure of fear memories occurs instead.

By extension, this suggests early intervention for anxiety disorder is important as children may be more resilient to relapse. However, the jury is still out on whether erasure of fear memories occurs at all in children and, if so, at what age.

It’s important to expose yourself to your fear in as many different contexts as possible. Marcus Benedix/Unsplash

So, given the high rate of relapse, is there a point to pursuing treatment at all? Absolutely! Having some respite from anxiety allows for significant moments of sunshine and improves quality of life, even if it is not eternal. In these moments, the typically anxious person might attend parties and make new friends or handle a stressful job interview successfully – things they would not have done because of excessive fear

One way to reduce the chances of relapse is to confront irrational fear at every opportunity and create new safe memories in many different contexts. Anticipating contextual factors that are trigger points for relapse, such as changing jobs or relationship break-ups, can also be adaptive. Strategies can then be used to manage the re-emergence of distressing thoughts and memories.

While erasure of negative memories may be the goal of the characters in Eternal Sunshine, the film also emphasises the importance of these memories. When processed rationally, stressful memories motivate us to make better decisions and become resilient. Being able look back on unpleasant memories without excessive distress allows us to move forward with greater wisdom and this is the ultimate goal for all therapeutic frameworks.

The Conversation

Academic rigour, journalistic flair

 

Vaginal mesh implant – national apology from Australian government.

Mesh implants: Government issues national apology over ‘agony and pain’ caused by device

Health Minister Greg Hunt has issued a national apology to the many women whose lives have been ruined by the debilitating effects of pelvic mesh implants.

Key points:

  • Health Minister issues national apology to mesh patients
  • Action follows patient horror stories
  • New register to be set up to track mesh devices

Speaking as he released details of the Government’s response to a Senate inquiry into vaginal mesh, Mr Hunt said he wanted to acknowledge the pain and suffering of those at the centre of the medical scandal.

“On behalf of the Australian Government, I say sorry to all of those women with the historic agony and pain that has come from mesh implantation which have led to horrific outcomes,” he said.

“My message to them is your voice has been heard, and not just heard but acted upon.”

The ABC has obtained details of the Government’s response to the inquiry, which is expected to be tabled today.

Mr Hunt said the Government would work with states and territories on setting up a voluntary national register of women who have had mesh devices and anything that went wrong.

“I would like to see it (the register) set up by the end of 2019, if not the middle of the year,” he said.

Patient groups had wanted it to be made compulsory for all health practitioners to report side-effects of any implantable device.

Mr Hunt said while his Government supported such a move, it was outside federal powers to do so.

“We will encourage the states and territories to adopt mandatory standards,” he said.

Do you know more about this story? Email Specialist.Team@abc.net.au

There’s been a mixed response from women and consumer health groups who continue to lobby for all mesh products to banned.

At the moment many items have been pulled from shelves and only select products can be used by qualified surgeons.

Mother of two Joanne Villani said she had witnessed some reforms by regulators, but many problems she experienced more than a decade ago still persisted.

“Women are still not being believed by their doctors,” she said.

“Doctors are still implanting mesh and telling women it’s new mesh and it is the same mesh.

“I would like mesh to be banned until it’s been shown to be safe. If it’s not shown to be safe, then it should never be used again.”

Senator Derryn Hinch pushed for the Senate inquiry, calling mesh “one of the biggest medical scandals” in Australian history.

Among the other actions the Federal Government will take are:

  • Permanent Medicare payment items for the removal and treatment of pelvic mesh
  • Asking states and territories to conduct an audit of pelvic mesh

Mr Hunt said he would raise the issues with his counterparts at the next health COAG meeting.

“I would be surprised if any state or territory resisted the steps that we have taken,” he said.

“Too many women have suffered too much for too long.”

‘I’ve friends who probably won’t make it’: patient

For Ms Villani it was not that pelvic mesh stopped her being able to have intercourse with her husband, it was the broader impact it had on their relationship.

“We actually split up for quite some time. It’s nothing my husband did or thought,” she said.

“It was very hard when he felt guilty and I felt guilty. It caused strain.”

The mother-of-two left the family home for some time because of the problems mesh caused in her relationship.

She has now returned to her partner because they “just want to be together”, but said their partnership would never be the same.

It is just one way Ms Villani said mesh has “totally altered my life” after her doctor suggested it to treat prolapse and incontinence following the birth of her son.

She recalled her surgeon seemed quite excited about the product at the time and believed he was on the “cutting edge” of new techniques.

“It didn’t quite work the way they expected,” she said.

“I went back to the surgeon on a number of occasions to discuss problems I was having and I was basically told it was in my head.”

Eleven years on, she said her situation had improved little.

“I have pain all the time,” she said.

“I’ll have to give up my job eventually. My financial future is also affected. I’ve been extremely depressed and anxious.”

Ms Villani said the worst part was that she was “not the only one”.

“Some women are expecting to die from their complications,” she said.

“I’ve friends who probably won’t make it.”

Patient advocates call for regulation of devices

And while Ms Villani welcomed the Government’s reforms to regulation and reporting, she said it did very little to help women who were continuing to struggle with debilitating side-effects from the product.

“I have friends who are talking about suicide. So we all need help,” she said.

“I would like to believe the Federal Government is serious about reform but what I see is a lot of this comes down to money.

“Money isn’t the issue, we are the issue.”

Patient advocates had been hoping for much tighter regulations of implantable devices, so that a scandal like pelvic mesh could not happen to other patients in the future.

Health Issues Centre chief Danny Vadasz said the Minister’s apology would provide much-needed validation to women who had long been told their problems were in their heads.

He welcomed the push for mandatory reporting, but said it relied on doctors listening to their patients.

“What we found in a lot of cases [was] women believed they had an adverse outcome but their practitioners didn’t,” Mr Vadasz said.

“You can only effectively mandate something if there’s an agreement on what constitutes an adverse result.”

He said the states and territories, to date, had not made an audit of past mesh cases a priority, but “hopefully with the Minister’s encouragement they will put this on the front burner”.

Mr Hunt said discussions were also underway to include implantable devices on the My Health record, if a patient chose.

But he said it would not be mandatory and the Government wanted to make sure that the My Health record system “was an entirely voluntary system”.

Mr Vadasz did not think the My Health record was an adequate avenue for a registry of devices because it had “sufficient problems of its own”.

“Complicating one problem by introducing the problems of another isn’t a way of coming up with an overall solution,” he said.

The Health Issues Centre was also hoping to see stricter credentialing around which surgeons were allowed to implant mesh.

“I haven’t heard anything yet that suggests there’s going to be tighter control of clinical trials that would enable a high degree of confidence in products that find their way to market,” Mr Vadasz said.

“I think people still need an explanation about why the various regulatory systems that are supposed to protect the public failed.”

(Source: ABC News Australia)

Aged care failures show how little we value older people – and those who care for them

Aged Care photo

As the royal commission begins investigating the failures of the residential aged care sector, it is important such a review also considers the broader socio-political factors that have contributed to this crisis.

The commission needs to go beyond the institutional problems at individual aged care facilities, as these are a symptom of a much broader rejection of ageing in society and marginalisation of older people.

Negative stereotyping of older people is reinforced in the media, and this both informs and reflects societal attitudes. In Western society especially, we fear dependency, invisibility and dying. Aged care is a silo of these fears. And until it affects us personally, we ignore it.

How older people are marginalised in society

We have an expiry date in our society. This is not the date we die, but a time when our skills and knowledge are no longer considered to be valid or useful. Our value is largely determined by our economic contributions to society. But for many older people, this is difficult to demonstrate because they’re no longer in the workforce.

The economic impact of societal rejection of ageing is significant. Modelling by Price Waterhouse Cooper indicates that Australia’s gross domestic product would increase by almost 5% if people were supported to work longer. And data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal that many Australians would like to retire later if they could.

Yet, there is evidence that older people are routinely denied work. In 2016, Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan said there was an urgent need to “tackle the discrimination that forces people out of work years before they want to leave”.

While older people should be supported to work longer if they wish, over half of Australians between the ages of 65 and 80 report a moderate or severe disability, resulting in greater dependency. A 2017 study of late-life dependency published in The Lancet found that, on average, older people will require 24-hour care for 1.3 to 1.9 years of their lives.

However, it is important that older people are not considered redundant in their societal role when dependency increases.

Aged care workers are also undervalued

Residential aged care facilities fulfil an essential role in our society. Yet, our recent ethnographic study in two residential aged care facilities in Victoria shows how this role has been compromised by an under-skilled, under-valued and overworked aged care workforce.

Older people were exposed to a revolving door of anonymous workers, significantly reducing opportunities for teamwork and fostering relationships between staff and residents. In one of the not-for-profit facilities, a single registered nurse was responsible for the care of 73 residents. This contributed to the delegation of an increasing range of tasks to unregistered personal care assistants with minimal training and delays in recognising signs of health deterioration among residents.

A reliance on general practitioners also increased the likelihood of hospital transfer. And hospital transfers can sometimes prove harmful, with previous studies showing that the noisy, fast-paced environment, bright lights and anonymous faces can have a negative impact on residents, particularly those with dementia.

Within the healthcare sector, aged care has the lowest status of all specialty areas amongst nurses and doctors. Recruiting appropriately qualified and skilled people to work in aged care is thus a constant challenge. Australia is expected to increasingly rely on imported labour to staff its aged care sector in the near future.

Ways to fix the system

Encouraging more healthcare professionals to enter the aged care sector will require a multi-pronged approach, starting with finding ways to engender more professional respect for those working in the field.

Greater emphasis also needs to be placed on improving the gerontological expertise of aged care workers. This can be strengthened by prioritising aged care in medical school education and recognising “nursing home” care as a specialist medical area. It is also imperative that personal care assistants receive greater recognition of their roles and duties.

Registration of personal care assistants as third-tier health care professionals is well overdue to ensure better oversight of their training and scope of their practice.

We also need to recognise the importance of human connection in residential aged care facilities. This requires strategies to build better relationships between residents and staff, and developing a formula for more accurate staffing allocations that reflect the real time commitments involved in aged care.

Who bears the ultimate responsibility?

It’s not enough to be shocked by the aged care scandals uncovered by the media and the decision to appoint a royal commission to investigate. We must also make older people, their contributions and end-of-life needs more visible. Increased funding and oversight will only come when we collectively say it’s important.

It is incumbent on us to ensure that residential aged care facilities do not operate as holding bays for the silenced, or wastelands for the discarded, where the occupants are expected to demand nothing and be as little cost to society as possible.

We have an opportunity to reconstruct the delivery of residential aged care. Let’s begin with the end in mind: a society that not only values older people, but values the resources required to provide the care they need and deserve.

Article from:

The Conversation

 

 

Mental health help in Australia is a joke

GPs struggle in a system ill-equipped to deal with mental health

I sat in the waiting room staring at my hands, willing them to stop shaking. Anxiety was a fighter jet, roaring through my cells, dropping grenades from head to toe.

When the doctor called my name I shuffled after her, a shrunken version of a self I no longer recognised. Fixing her eyes on a computer screen, she hammered the keys and asked me to explain why I was there.

Our complex emotional pain is being treated with six-minute medicine by time-poor GPs, says Jill Stark.
Our complex emotional pain is being treated with six-minute medicine by time-poor GPs, says Jill Stark.

Photo: Christopher Nielsen

When I told her I was experiencing what felt like an acute recurrence of the depression and anxiety I’d grappled with since I was a teenager she pushed a sheet of paper across the desk and I began to tick boxes.

During the last 30 days, how often did you feel hopeless? … During the last 30 days, how often did you feel so nervous that nothing could calm you down? … How often did you feel so sad nothing could cheer you up?

Ten questions, scored from one to five, with one being ‘none of the time’ and five ‘all of the time’. Under 20 is well. Over 30 is a severe mental-health disorder.

“You got 25, which means you’re only mild to moderately depressed, so there’s not much to worry about,” she said, reaching for the prescription pad before asking if I was suicidal.

I thought about it for a while and said no. “Good. These ones aren’t prescribed very often these days because they’re much easier to overdose on. But you’re not suicidal, so that’s fine.”

Less than fifteen minutes after I sat down I stood on the street weeping. I had no support, no plan for how I was going to make it through the day, armed only with the knowledge that should I want my kill myself the drugs I’d been prescribed were well-equipped for the job.

Journalist Jill Stark.

I wish this was an isolated experience. But since documenting my mental health battles in my recent memoir Happy Never After, I’ve been inundated with messages from people across Australia telling similar stories.

Our complex emotional pain is being treated with six-minute medicine by time-poor GPs struggling to meet demand in a system woefully ill-equipped to deal with the mental health challenges of modern life.

It was revealed in recent days that GP waiting rooms are crammed full of patients with psychological problems.

Research released by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners found that 62 per cent of people visiting a doctor are presenting with mental health problems – significantly more than any other medical condition.

College president-elect Dr Harry Nespolon said doctors are in an impossible situation, forced to either charge patients for more time to manage these complex problems or wear the out-of-pocket costs themselves.

“As access to psychologists and psychiatrists can be restrictive, to say the least, GPs must not only work as the frontline of support – but as the entire support model, something which is currently not supported by patient Medicare rebates,” he said.

How much longer can we continue like this? When will we stop treating emotional health as the poor cousin to physical health?

We are in the grip of a mental health crisis. We have the highest Australian youth suicide rate in a decade. More people are depressed, anxious and medicated than at any other time in our history. If trends continue, clinical depression will be the second most disabling condition behind heart disease by 2020.

Raising awareness is not enough. The time for wristbands and hashtags has passed. We have learned to ask R U OK but when the answer is ‘no’, too often there is nowhere to go.

Our Medicare system needs to better reflect the times we live in and the health problems we face. Doctors need the financial support to offer longer consultations for patients with complex psychological needs.

And as a matter of urgency, we must stop rationing psychological services to ten subsidised sessions per year.

When I was at my lowest point, I saw my psychologist twice week just to keep my head above water. I raced through my Medicare sessions in five weeks.

At almost $200 per hour, I then had to raise almost $400 a week just to stay in therapy and out of hospital.

There are few other areas of healthcare where we place such arbitrary limits on a patient’s ability to recover.

Through life’s lottery I was fortunate enough to have a supportive employer, and family who could afford to fund my therapy. Without their assistance I honestly don’t think I’d be alive.

Not everyone is so lucky. Many people are no longer here because they couldn’t afford their mental illness. It’s a devastating indictment on a system that is fundamentally broken.

We must demand better. The chances of surviving our emotional pain should not be determined by the balance of our bank accounts.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Jill Stark is a Melbourne journalist and author of Happy Never After

(c) Fairfax Media Australia.

Cancer, sex and intimacy: Patients call for honest heads-up about impact of treatment

 Annie Gaffney and Kylie Bartholomew ABC Australia

Lynne Essex was diagnosed with endometrial cancer when she was 54. It has been three years since her treatment, but she still has not had sex.

“No-one told me anything about what would happen, how sensitive the area would be where I had the radiation,” she said.

“Because it was endometrial, the vaginal area is all very sensitive, and that’s what scares me about having sexual relations.

“I haven’t been in a partnership for about seven years.”

Ms Essex had a hysterectomy, but a few months later the radiation that was used to shrink another tumour tore a hole in her bowel, leaving her with an ileostomy bag.

Despite her terminal prognosis, she is determined to embrace life and dating opportunities.

But she said that journey had been made more difficult because she was not informed by doctors about the impact of cancer treatment on her sex life, and instead had to resort to her own research, and support service Bloomhill Cancer Care.

While Ms Essex has had “a couple of chances” at having an intimate experience over the past few years, she has been too scared.

“The fear has been there to actually go all the way,” she said.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

“My bones have gone like osteoporosis now and I’ve had fractures in my pelvis, pubic bone and sacrum because of it.

“I think my situation [wearing an ileostomy bag] was I just wanted to hide it.”

Therapist calls for more sex talk

Ms Essex’s story is not surprising to sexologist Jocelyn Klug.

“I’m always hearing of patients who have not been informed of the consequences of treatment on their sexuality,” she said.

“For many doctors there’s an awkwardness. They don’t want to be seen to be prying and I think this is generally about their respect for the patients.”

Ms Klug urged patients to speak up to their partner and doctor.

“Most couples struggle to talk openly about sex and so when we don’t communicate, we’re left making assumptions,” she said.

“Find the courage to bring up this topic [to your doctor] and ask ‘What is the impact on my sex life?'”

She said far too many couples ended up avoiding sex and intimacy post-treatment.

“Sadly for a lot of people, because of sexual dysfunction following cancer treatment they … feel that being able to be sexually intimate with a partner is far too challenging.”

‘I’m just so self-conscious about having to poo all the time’

David (not his real name), a 36-year-old husband and father of two, was diagnosed with rectal cancer last year.

The tumour was located about 10 centimetres inside his rectum close to lymph nodes, bladder, bowel and the parts of his anatomy that affect erectile function.

But unlike Ms Essex’s experience, David was given detailed information from his doctor about the impact of surgery and treatment on his sexual function and overall health.

“I was told to bring my will in and make sure my affairs were in order,” he said.

“He [the doctor] couldn’t tell me if I was ever going be able to wee again properly or if I’d get any function back at all sexually.

“They said after six months if it’s not doing anything, it’s probably not going to do anything. It was devastating.”

Surgery was successful for David and his erectile function returned after a few months, but a brief stint wearing an ileostomy bag affected his confidence.

“Having a shit bag as I called it was pretty awful, and I felt pretty unattractive,” he said.

Eventually, David had the stoma reversed but that has left the young dad feeling anything but back to normal, because without a rectum he has limited bowel function and still soils himself. A lot.

“Once the stoma was closed, I was doing a poo up to 40 times a day,” he said.

“Trying to be intimate with that going on, it’s not happening.

“If I think we might be getting jiggy with it, I’d have to prepare by lunchtime that day … to prepare what I eat and then I don’t eat or make sure that I’ve had a shower because I’m just so self-conscious about having to poo all the time. It’s all awful.”

David continues to have ongoing support from his psychologist, psychiatrist and doctor.

“All my treating team and my nurse at Bloomhill, they all quite regularly bring it up [his sex life] as a major factor to consider,” he said.

Lynne’s story ‘not unique’, professor says

University of Sydney professor of medical oncology Fran Boyle said experiences such as Ms Essex’s were not unique, but the urgency of treatment could be one factor that prevented doctors from having a conversation with their patient about the impact of treatment on their sex life.

“I think there are probably situations where cancer treatment happens suddenly,” she said.

“Decisions need to be made very quickly and they are often life and death decisions with really quite complex decision-making and trade-offs.

“We know that under time pressure things that are difficult to talk about, and sex is one of them for many people, is often the thing that is going to get left out.”

Professor Boyle believed there could be greater scope for surgeons to raise the topic with patients, and called for compulsory communication training for them to facilitate that conversation.

She said there was likely to be an improvement in the medical fraternity in the future, with some changes underway within the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia.

“That will include things like monitoring bone health, emotional concerns and sexual health as well, so I think you’ll see an improvement in that area going forward, and we’d love to work with anyone who has access to patients to make that happen,” she said.

Courtesy Australian Broadcasting Corpration Australia.

Don’t take aspirin if you don’t need it. New medical study finds.

Millions of healthy older people with no history of heart attack or stroke take low-dose aspirin in the hope it will reduce their risk and prolong good health.

But a new Australian-led study has found that’s not the case.

The study of more than 19,000 healthy people aged over 70 found taking 100 milligrams of aspirin a day didn’t prolong their life or significantly reduce the risk of a first heart attack or stroke.

Aspirin

Handful of aspirin Lead researcher Professor John McNeil from Monash University said the results of the seven-year study should prompt people who take aspirin — when they have no medical reason for doing so — to reconsider whether it is a good idea.

And researchers found taking low doses of aspirin each day had potentially serious side effects.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found aspirin increased the risk of serious bleeding, a well-known side effect of aspirin.

“That’s an issue in the elderly when people’s blood vessels are a bit more fragile,” Professor McNeil said.

The results of the study only relate to healthy older people aged 70 and above and not to people taking aspirin on medical advice, such as those who have had a heart attack or stroke.

Researchers also looked at whether taking aspirin affected the likelihood of developing dementia, but found little difference between those who took aspirin and those who took a placebo.

The Heart Foundation does not recommend that people who do not have coronary heart disease take daily aspirin.

“People aged over 45 with no known coronary heart disease will benefit most from a healthy lifestyle and seeing their doctor for risk assessments such as blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels,” a spokesperson for the Heart Foundation said.

Research ‘great benefit to older people’

Bruce Holloway is 90 but still plays tennis twice a week.

He puts his good health down to being active and in a position to make a contribution, like taking part in clinical trials.

He was keen to participate in the aspirin study when his GP asked him to take part.

“Elderly people can make a contribution to society and this is a good way of doing it,” he said.

The participants weren’t told whether they were taking aspirin or not.

“I am confident this is an important result and will have great benefit to the older people of the world,” Mr Holloway said.

“It’s important that old people in their 70s, 80s and 90s can make a contribution to society like this.”

Consult your GP first

Doctors say it’s important to seek medical advice before making any changes to your medication.

President-elect of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Dr Harry Nespolon, who was not involved in the study, said some older patients might be taking aspirin because they think it’s a good idea.

“They think, ‘what’s a little aspirin going to do to me?’ But there are serious consequences, as the study shows,” he said.

Dr Nespolon said while there have been mixed opinions on whether giving healthy people aspirin is a good idea, this new study “clearly shows people over 70 shouldn’t be taking aspirin as simply an aid to their health”.

ASPREE study: A snapshot

At the beginning of the study, known as the ASPREE (Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) trial, researchers in Australia and the United States recruited more than 19,000 adults aged 70 years and above who had no history of cardiovascular disease, dementia or disability.

Participants were randomly assigned to receive 100 milligrams of aspirin each day or a placebo pill, and were followed for an average of 4.7 years.

The researchers found the use of low-dose aspirin did not prolong disability-free survival (a measure used to reflect a healthy lifespan) among healthy older adults.

“We measured this by how long it took for people to remain healthy without having a permanent physical disability or developing dementia. In other words, how long people spent in a healthy state,” Professor McNeil said.

Researchers also found the use of low-dose aspirin did not substantially lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy older adults, and instead significantly increased their risk of major haemorrhage (bleeding that can lead to a stroke).

(Story courtesy of ABC News Health Report Australia.)