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Alyssa Gonzales

Articles by Alyssa Gonzales

Unpacking Latino Genes to Find Answers for Alzheimer’s Disease



Researchers are exploring a genetic variant that could explain the higher rates of Alzheimer’s among Latinos living in Puerto Rico. This work – which is ongoing – could help fill a critical gap in Latino Alzheimer’s research and spark new treatments for dementia, according to researchers at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami. “A genetic target, which drug companies are showing interest in, is twice as likely to be successful therapeutically than nongenetic targets,” Margaret Pericak-Vance, leader of the Hussman Institute, told NBC News. Let’s dive into the research and how it impacts Latinos! The Need for Genetic Research on Alzheimer’s among Latinos Latinos are 1.5 times more likely than their peers to have ...

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Study: COVID-19 Has Scary Impact on Young Brains



The rise of COVID-19 worsened daily life for Latinos and many others in areas like healthcare, housing, income, and food access. Stress and anxiety are other grim outcomes of the pandemic, especially for youth. Following COVID-19-fueled school shutdowns and social isolation, adolescents experienced more symptoms of anxiety and depression and greater internalizing problems than before the pandemic, according to a new study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The brains of teens and young adults were also deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “In addition to replicating prior findings that the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected adolescents’ mental health, this study showed that the pandemic may have physically aged their brains,” according to ...

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Long COVID: What Is Known & How Is It Impacting Latinos?


Man experiencing long COVID symptoms.

When COVID-19 first struck America in 2020, Latinos were deeply affected. Not only did the pandemic create high rates of infection, hospitalization, and death among Latinos, it also worsened historical health inequities, from access to healthcare and vaccinations to food insecurity, housing issues, and misinformation. Today, as new variants continue to arise, an unresolved threat has emerged – Long COVID. Let’s analyze the lingering symptoms of Long COVID-19 and how it impacts Latinos today. What is Long COVID? The Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, and other partners have worked to define “long COVID” or “post-COVID conditions.” “In April 2020, shortly after the beginning of the pandemic, anecdotal reports from patients started to emerge that ...

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How Health Confianza is Improving Health Literacy in San Antonio



Health literacy is defined by the CDC as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” In today’s world, health literacy is crucial for community members and health professionals, alike, to make everyday decisions and achieve health equity. However, many underserved and racial/ethnic communities around the country face barriers to health equity including access to health care, financial instability, and housing/transportation insecurity endangering their health. That is why Jason Rosenfeld, DrPH, MPH, and Melanie Stone, DrPH (c), MPH, MEd are helping build Health Confianza – a partnership between UT Health San Antonio, The University of Texas San ...

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Help Researchers Learn More about Preventing Dementia, Disability, and Disease


Patient and doctor

If you’re age 75 or older, you should know about PREVENTABLE. PREVENTABLE – the Pragmatic Evaluation of events And Benefits of Lipid-lowering – is a clinical trial to help researchers understand if taking a statin, a drug commonly used to lower cholesterol in younger adults, is helpful for older adults, specifically when it comes to maintaining health by preventing dementia, disability, and heart disease. “We really don’t know how these drugs work in older adults,” according to the research team at UT Health San Antonio, including Dr. Sara Espinoza, principal investigator for the local study site. “Most, if not all, of the studies of statins have been done in much younger people, in their 50s and 60s, but studies in adults over 75 are rare.” The national study is ...

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6 Big Questions on CDC’s New BMI Charts to Measure Severe Obesity in Children


Definition of BMI

The CDC recently revised Body Mass Index (BMI) charts for children to help healthcare providers better track growth in children and identify “severe obesity.” Before the update, BMI charts for children did not go above 37. The revised charts extend to a BMI of 60 to account for the rise of severe obesity in children ages 2-20, according to the CDC. Now clinicians can more easily see whether a child’s BMI falls within the range of underweight, ideal weight, overweight, obese, or severely obese, based on a percentile measured against other children of the same age and gender, according to CNBC and healthline.com. A BMI higher than 95% of kids of the same age and gender is defined as obese. Severe obesity is a BMI 120% higher than the 95th percentile, ...

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Comente Ahora: ¡Apoye los Cambios en los Alimentos de WIC!


Latino mother & daughter grocery shopping.

Usted puede comentar ahora sobre las nuevas revisiones del paquete de alimentos del Programa Especial de Nutrición Complementaria para Mujeres, Bebés y Niños (WIC por sus siglas en inglés), propuestas por el Departamento de Agricultura de los Estados Unidos (USDA, por sus siglas en inglés) que tienen como objetivo mejorar la nutrición y promover y apoyar la lactancia materna. Los cambios propuestos, basados en las recomendaciones científicas de un informe de 2017 de las Academias Nacionales de Ciencias, Ingeniería y Medicina (National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine), incluyen: Mejorar el poder de compra de frutas y verduras. Aumentar la cantidad de los alimentos menos consumidos. Más opciones para los patrones alimenticios culturales. Capacidad ...

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Make Quitting Smoking Part of Your New Year’s Resolutions



The 2023 New Year brings about new resolutions for many hoping to adopt a healthier lifestyle like eating healthier or exercising more. Quitting smoking could help, too. With several health problems stemming from smoking including cancer, heart disease, and respiratory infections, why not quit smoking as a resolution? Let’s dive into the facts and benefits of leaving smoking behind in 2022! Rates of Latino Smokers Over 32.4 million American adults still smoke cigarettes, according to the American Cancer Society. The CDC reports that cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. How does this impact Latinos? About 1 in 13 (8%) Latino adults in the U.S. smokes cigarettes, according to the CDC. Cigarette smoking ...

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Go Fish! Study Connects Omega-3s to Brain Health Improvement at Midlife


Omega-3 options

Consuming cold-water fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids could preserve brain health and enhance cognition in middle age, according to a recent study led by researchers at UT Health San Antonio and the Framingham Heart Study. “Our results, albeit exploratory, suggest that higher omega-3 fatty acid concentrations are related to better brain structure and cognitive function in a predominantly middle-aged cohort free of clinical dementia,” according to the study. What Are Omega-3s? Omega-3s are a family of essential fatty acids that play an important role in the human body. “Although evidence is mixed, studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids can protect against all sorts of illnesses, including breast cancer, depression, ADHD, and various inflammatory diseases,” ...

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