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Health Highlights: July 17, 2013

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Dementia Rates Fall Sharply in U.K.: Study

A new study finds that dementia rates among people 65 and older in England and Wales have fallen 25 percent over the past two decades, from 8.3 percent to 6.2 percent.

The researchers compared dementia rates among more than 7,600 seniors in Cambridgeshire, Newcastle and Nottingham between 1984 and 1994 and another group of seniors in the same areas between 2008 and 2011. The study was published in The Lancet.

This and a recent Danish study about improving rates of mental acuity among people in their 90s challenge projections from some advocacy groups and public health officials who predict a rapid rise in the number of people worldwide with dementia, as well as the costs of caring for them, The New York Times reported.

The same positive trends are likely occurring in the United States, but studies are needed to confirm it, according to Dallas Anderson, an expert on the epidemiology of dementia at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

"With these two studies, we are beginning to see that more and more of us will have a chance to reach old age cognitively intact, postponing dementia or avoiding it altogether," he told The Times. "That is a happy prospect."

Some experts have said that dementia rates would decrease and mental acuity among the elderly improve as the population grew healthier and better educated.

Dementia rates are lower among people with higher levels of education, as well as among those who control their blood pressure and cholesterol. This may be because some dementia is caused by mini-strokes and other vascular damage, The Times reported.

So as more people take steps to prevent and control cardiovascular disease risk and complete more years of schooling, it makes sense that the risk of dementia might decrease, experts explain.

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'Glee' Actor Cory Monteith Died of Overdose

Actor Cory Monteith died from an overdose of heroin and alcohol, the British Columbia coroner's office said Tuesday.

The 31-year-old actor on the popular television show "Glee" was found dead in his Vancouver hotel room on Saturday and police believe he was alone when he died, the Associated Press reported.

"There is no evidence to suggest Mr. Monteith's death was anything other than a most tragic accident," the coroner's office said in a statement.

Monteith struggled for years with substance abuse and once said he was lucky to be alive, the AP reported.

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Company Destroys Inventory of Sports Supplements

A company has destroyed its inventory of two popular sports supplements that U.S. health regulators said could pose a serious health risk to consumers, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday.

The products, called Jack3d and OxyElite Pro, were made by USPlabs of Dallas and contained an amphetamine-like stimulant called dimethylamylamine (DMAA), the AP reported.

In April, the FDA issued a public advisory saying that DMAA was an illegal dietary ingredient that could boost blood pressure, potentially leading to heart attacks. The agency warned people not to take it.

However, USPlabs continued to distribute its remaining inventory of Jack3d and OxyElite Pro, which led the FDA to issue an administrative detainment order for the products and ask the company to destroy them.

"We don't want consumers using the products. We think they present a risk to public health," said Daniel Fabricant, the director of the F.D.A.'s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs, the AP reported. "We will leave no stone unturned to get them out of the marketplace."

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U.S. Man Loses Memory, Believes He's Swedish

A 61-year-old American man says he can't recall his past and believes he is Swedish.

The man was found unconscious in a Southern California motel in February. His ID said he was Michael Thomas Boatwright from Florida. But when he awoke in a hospital a few days later, he said he'd never heart of Boatwright, CNN reported.

He couldn't remember that he was born in Florida or that he served in the U.S. Navy. He couldn't explain why he had five tennis rackets in his hotel room and didn't recognize photos of himself or other people with him in photos.

On top of all that, he didn't speak a word of English. He said his name was Johan Ek and that he was from Sweden. Today, the man says he has accepted the name Michael Boatwright, but only because doctors told him he should. He said he still feels like Johan Ek from Sweden but can't explain why, CNN reported.

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Randy Travis Recovering From Surgery After Stroke

Country music musician Randy Travis is showing progress in his recovery from surgery after suffering a stroke, according to his doctors.

They said the 54-year-old singer, who was awake and interacting with family and friends Monday, remains in critical condition and on a ventilator, but was taken off a heart pump and is breathing spontaneously, the Associated Press reported.

Travis' breathing support is gradually being reduced and he has started the early phases of physical therapy, the doctors said in a news release and video.

The doctors also said the singer will stay at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano in Texas for two or three more weeks before he's transferred to another facility to undergo intense physical therapy, the AP reported.

It will take months for Travis to recover from the stroke, doctors noted.


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