News Round Up: August 2nd-8th 2008

ACE Inhibitors and Dementia

A study which seems very important and involved millions of people, showed that those people taking ACE inhibitors (medication for reducing blood pressure) rather than other blood pressure lowering tablets were 40% less likely to get dementia and 45% less likely to develop other serious consequences of dementia. The research was presented at a conference in Chicago by a research group from the Boston University School of medicine. I don’t have the methodology details but it should be very interesting to keep an eye on this research.

Psychiatrists doing less psychotherapy

The big story of the week was some research showing that psychiatrists are doing less psychotherapy and more prescribing which was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. This may reflect a changing role of psychiatrists.

Psychiatry in the Olympics

The British Cycling Team are bringing along forensic psychiatrist Steve Peters to China in the hope of achieving some ambitious medal winning goals. Dr Peters is himself a veteran athlete medal winner and has coached the England Rugby Team and several top olympic athletes. Best of luck!

Prodromal Alzheimer’s Disease and Atrophy

In the journal Neurology, Desikan and colleagues published a study (e-publication) on the prodromal phase of Alzheimer’s Disease (the phase leading up to Alzheimer’s Disease). This is an important phase as it is here that preventative measures would be expected to be most effective. The difficulty is in identifying people who will go on to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. In this study which involved 66 subjects, the researchers used MRI to look at changes in the brain over time.  They found that those those who converted to Alzheimer’s Disease had a greater rate of shrinkage in five areas of the brain compared to those who did not. These areas included the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex – areas classically associated with memory. These results may contribute to the development of preventative strategies.


Research in the Archives of General Psychiatry suggests that Oestrogens may be helpful in reducing symptoms of schizophrenia. There is evidence that psychotic symptoms (e.g. hallucinations) can change during pregnancy and after the menopause. The researchers administered an oestrogen patch and found a reduction in symptoms.


A study in the Archives of General Psychiatry provides evidence to suggest that genetic factors may lead to people being more likely to do exercise and having less depressive and anxiety symptoms. The study involved just under 6000 twins and over 2600 relatives. The author’s findings are suggestive of exercise not leading to improvement in depressive or anxiety symptoms. However such findings need to be replicated using other research paradigms. Also exercise has many health benefits.


In the Archives of General Psychiatry, Jones et al, have examined autistic children, other children with developmental delay and children without these conditions. They found that children with autism were more likely to look at people’s mouths than eyes compared to controls. Another study in Neuropsychologia by Riby and Hancock and reported on by neurocritic suggests that children with autism spend less time looking at the eyes and that children with Williams Syndrome spend more time. This is an interesting result because the general social abilities of people with Williams Syndrome and autism are usually contrasted although this contrast is too simplistic.


The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor.


  1. Hey I discovered your blog by chance on feedburner while looking for something really unrelated but I am truly pleased that I did, You have just captured yourself another subscriber. 🙂


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