Wonder pills for the middle-aged and other medical advances are extending healthy life as never before. Even people in their nineties can benefit. Sarah-Kate Templeton reports
When Dorothy Newcombe fell ill with heart disease at the age of 92, her family thought she had reached the end of her natural lifespan. One of her seven grandchildren and one of her seven great-grandchildren travelled from New Zealand to say goodbye.
After a new treatment particularly targeted at the elderly, Dorothy is still going strong. She goes shopping with her 94-year-old husband, George, does the housework and is back playing bingo at the local church hall. Dorothy, from Liver-pool, has even managed to dance a few steps of a waltz again.
For any nonagenarian to have a new heart valve is remarkable; what makes Dorothy’s case even more special is that she received one in a procedure that allowed her to walk out of hospital just three days after surgery last October.
Last week she said: “Before the operation I wasn’t at all well. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t bend down. This operation has given me a new lease of life. It has given me a new chance. We can still put on records and have a dance in the house.”
Just Say NO To Old Age: Professor X isn’t the only one with incredible mental powers: recent research says that you might be even better at brain-boosting, helping heal yourself with the power of a positive attitude – while he can’t even summon up the mental energy to stand.
The power of positive thinking might make us sound infinity percent more likely to wear hemp and say “man” an inappropriate number of times for science reporters (i.e. ever), but it’s real research at Harvard. Professor Ellen Langer has conducted several studies into “mindfulness theory”, researching just how much your attitude affects your actual body. The answer: quite a bit.
One of Benjamin Button’s many stories-within-stories in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, involves the tale of a clock built for the New Orleans train station that is designed to run backwards, in the hope that it will resurrect the First World War dead.
With a similar result in mind, in one experiment Langer shut several septuagenarians in a hotel that had been redecorated in mid-eighties style, eliminating all evidence of the last two decades. Subjects were instructed to act as if they’d really gone all Doctor Who, and after only seven days they were faster, stronger, better than before. Stronger for seventy-year olds, anyway, and certainly stronger than a control group who didn’t get this amateur time-travel and were basically left to think about how damn old they were.
Also see this article.
A drug that combines four different medicines and could halve deaths from heart attacks and stroke around the globe will enter human trials this week in London.
The once-a-day polypill has been the dream of doctors for many years, but because the drugs it contains, including aspirin, are cheap, there has been no financial incentive for the pharmaceutical industry to get involved.
Now, however, international teams of researchers, with the backing in the UK of the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation, are just a few years away from making the polypill an accessible reality.
Difficulties in combining four drugs in one tablet have been overcome and the Red Heart pill, as it has been christened, has been manufactured by the Indian generic drug company Dr Reddy’s. Volunteers are now being recruited for a 12-week pilot trial which will involve up to 700 people in six countries. If all goes well, the main trial with 5,000 to 7,000 volunteers will begin at the end of next year.
Anthony Rodgers, co-director of the clinical trials unit at the University of Auckland, leader of the project, said it had been a struggle to get the polypill this far. “The chances of mainstream pharmaceutical industry taking this on are slim.
“We spent a few years around about 2000-2002 trying to persuade a number of companies to do this, but got nowhere. Basically, their whole business model is around people paying a few hundred pounds a year for the latest blockbuster drug. A pill with established medicines that halved cardiovascular risk and could be available for £20 a year could be seen as a threat.”
Yeah, let’s keep screwing around with health problems so people can make money off it.
The current greed based economy we have today just doesn’t have the right priorities…