More Good News About Good Fats

GOOD FATS MAY SLOW ALZHEIMER'S PROGRESSION Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids are believed to be good for one's heart, but can they protect the mind as well? In a new study, Swedish researchers from the Karolinska Institute tested the idea by assigning patients with Alzheimer's disease to take either omega-3 supplements or a placebo. They wanted to see if the supplements might slow the decline in thinking, learning and memory that patients normally experience. Published this week in the Archives of Neurology, the results show that only patients with very mild Alzheimer's experienced less of a decline, which suggests that once the disease advances, supplementation may no longer be beneficial. However, researchers say much larger studies are needed to confirm these results before omega-3 supplements can be recommended for Alzheimer's disease.

PASSING MRSA BACTERIA IN HOSPITAL ROOMS Current cleaning procedures in the rooms of intensive care units may not be effective enough at eliminating the bacteria on the floors, beds, gowns, faucets and fixtures left behind by the room's previous occupants. A new study finds that your odds of catching antibiotic-resistant bacteria (like MSRA) during a stay in the hospital are increased if the person who stayed in the room before had the bacteria. Researchers estimate that about 5 percent to 7 percent of MRSA and Vancomycin-resistant bacterial infections are due to patients catching them from previous hospital patients. Since treatment-resistant bacteria are increasingly common, doctors suggest that more intensive cleaning practices might be necessary to reduce the risk. This research was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET MIGHT REDUCES RISK OF ALZHEIMER'S Following a Mediterranean diet, which consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil, may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, report researchers from Columbia University Medical Center. Published this week in the Archives of Neurology, new research on nearly 2,000 seniors finds that those whose recent eating habits most closely matched the Mediterranean diet were less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Compared with those whose diet was less of a match, people who followed a nearly Mediterranean diet were 50 percent to 68 percent less likely to have Alzheimer's disease.

STROKE SYMPTOMS COMMON In a new study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, 18 percent of adults with no history of stroke reported experiencing at least one symptom of stroke, such as numbness or weakness on one side of the body, or a sudden loss of vision. Generally, the people who experience these symptoms do not seek medical attention and many strokes go undiagnosed. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham say these "silent strokes" should not be overlooked as they may be an indicator of a major stroke down the road.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.