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Lewes, Delaware
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May 1, 1998     Cape Gazette
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CAPE GAZE'I'll, Friday, May I - May 7, 1998 - 33 HEALTH & FITNESS  uoon to Zwaanendael Club awards scholarship to top student nurse The Zwaanendael Club of Lewes recently awarded its annual $500 nursing scholarship to Teresa Vandre of Dover. Vandre, a first-year student at the Beebe School of Nursing, was the top academic scorer in her class. Shown are O-r)Judy Schulze, Zwaanendael Club education committee chairwoman; Connie Bushey, Beebe School of Nursing director;, and Vandre. Kent/Sussex Alzheimer's Association expanding Since its inception in 1995, the Kent/Sussex Advi- sory Council of the Delaware Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association has grown in service to families in middle and lower Delaware. The council, currently composed of more than 25 people from Kent and Sussex counties, formed to address the growing needs for Alzheimer and dementia services to the rising number of lower state families. Since 1995, the council has been developing and imple- menting programs to meet the needs of more than 600 families coping with Alzheimer's disease in the downstate areas. During this time, the council has conducted educa- tion programs serving over 300 individuals, in- creased information and referral requests through a toll-free number by 500 percent, conducted some 12 health fairs, 10 educational seminars, spoken at over 40 downstate functions and participated in 14 com- munity events. A highlight of the last two years has been the creation of a Sussex County Memory Walk in Rehoboth Beach. Memory Walk, the association's only large, public fundraising event, raised more than $52,000 statewide in 1997. Of that amount, over $12,000 was generated from new Rehoboth Beach walk - an amount exceeding of the goal of $5,000. Through the efforts of more than 60 volunteers on walk days and only 15 organizers, Memory Walk in Rehoboth was a huge success. To meet the rising need for services and to better involve more dedicated Kent and Sussex Countians, the council has moved its site from Grace Methodist Church in Millsboro to a new site at a Reformation Lutheran Church, Lakeview Road, Milford. For more information, call 302-656-2676 or 800-219-7666. Study suggests hormone may help Alzheimer's patients A new stttdy that suggests how estrogen may delay or prevent Alzheimer's disease is a valuable step forward in Alzheimer re- search, but needs to be replicated by other researchers, according to the Alzheimer's Association, Delaware chapter. "This is good science by re- spected scientists that moves us in a positive direction," said Execu- tive Director Andrea J. Cart. "The Alzheimer's Association enthusi- astically welcomes new informa- tion in the drive to treat, prevent, and eventually cure Alzheimer's disease." The new study follows up on earlier research, which showed a correlation between women who took estrogen and reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, by attempt- ing to discover how estrogen might affect the disease process. "Estrogen Reduces Neuronal Generation of Alzheimer fi-amy- loid Peptides," by Dr. Sam Gandy of the N.S. Kline Institute, New York University, and colleagues, appears in the April 1998 issue of the journal "Nature Medicine." The study was funded in part by the Alzheimer's Association and the National Institutes of Health. The association supports a $100 million increase in federal funding for Alzbeimer research. Based on test tube studies of rat, mouse, and human cells, the re- searchers believe that estrogen may reduce the generation in the brain of certain factors, known as beta-amyloid peptides, which form into the plaques characteris- tic of Alzheimer's disease. The next steps are for these findings to be confirmed by other scientists. "These are laboratory findings," Carr said. "We still don't know if they ate applicable to living peo- ple. In addition, there may be oth- er ways estrogen is involved in nerve cell protection.'" According to the association, once scientists discover how es- trogen protects nerve cells, they can initiate a drug discovery process focusing on those mecha- nisms. Goals would include find- ing or creating estrogen-like Alzheimer's treatments for women that do not increase breast cancer risk and treatments for men that are not feminizing. For several years, researchers have been studying the role of es- trogen in Alzheimer's disease. Early studies showed a correlation between women on estrogen re- placement therapy and a reduced risk for Alzheimer's. Recent stud- ies have shown that estrogen may have a protective effect on nerve cells in the brain, and may some- how prevent nerve cell death. Continued on page 35 Know the signs, symptoms of thyroid ,lisease The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped organ that over- lies the trachea on the lower part of the neck. The normal gland is barely palpable as it shifts up and down with swallowing. Its small size belies the many physiologic effects it has on the body. Thyroid hormone is responsible for protein synthesis in every body tissue. It affects the con- sumption of oxygen of tissues like the liver, kidney, heart and skele- tal muscle. In the simplest terms, it can be considered the energy hormone of the body. There are two main conditions commonly associated with either overproduction or underproduc- tion of this hormone. In overpro- duction, or hyperthyroidism, many symptoms and signs are seen. They are the same for all types of hyperthyroidism with a few eX’pti0nS, The clinical signs may be dramatic or subtle. The more common signs are as follows: • Goiter • Rapid heart rate • Warm, moist skin • Fine tremor of hands • Various eye changes • Atrial fibrillation or palpita- tions The most frequent symptoms are as follows: • Nervousness • Increased activity • Hypersensitivity to heat • Palpitations • Fatigue • Increased appetite with weight loss • Rapid heartbeat • Insomnia • Weakness • Frequent bowel movements • Occasional diarrhea • Occasional skin changes, in- cluding swelling of the area around the eyes or in the legs; in- tense itching Eye signs that show the evi- dence of hyperthyroidism are as follows: • Stare • Pain around eyes • Tearing • Intolerance of light Signs of very severe hyperthy- roidism are as follows: • Fever • Muscle wasting • Marked weakness • Extreme restlessness with wide emotional swings • Confusion • Psychosis • Coma The patient can present with cardiovascular collapse and shock. These instances are rare but when they do occur, they can be life-threatening emergencies, requiring prompt and specific treatment. In the elderly, many of these signs; symptoms can be subclini- cal and this is called apathetic hy- perthyroidism. In these cases the patient can present with only the following: • Malaise • Weakness • Mental changes • New onset of heart palpita- tions Often the thyroid condition in the elderly can be missed if not di- rectly looked for. The diagnosis of hyperthyroidism is usually straightforward and depends on careful clinical history and physi- cal exam, high index of suspicion and routine thyroid hormone de- terminations. The most recent ASSAY systems are highly accu- rate combinations of tests and are relatively inexpensive. Hypothyroidism is probably an autoimmune disease and results in a shrunken thyroid gland that has little or no function. These can be associated with goiters or en- larged thyroid glands, post-thera- py hypothyroidism or lack of stimulation from the pituitary gland. The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism are generally in striking contrast to those of hyper- thyroidism and may again be sub- tle and insidious in onset. - Facial expression is dull. • Speech is slow. • Voice is hoarse. • Puffiness and periorbital swelling caused by infiltration be- hind the eyes. • Intolerance to cold. • Eyelids droop because of weakness of the muscles behind the eyes. • The hair can become sparse, coarse, and dry. • Skin becomes coarse, dry, • scaly and thick. Continued on page 35 HEALTH TOPICS Renata Didyk, M.D. Dr. Renata Didyk practices internal medicine at Associ- ates in Medicine of Lewes and Ocean View. For more infor- mation, call 645.6644.