Medical News Notes – March 3, 2014

Posted Monday, Mar 3, 2014 by Allen B. Ury

MedicalNews1Lack of sleep can cause brain damage…and auto accidents. High blood pressure is deadlier for women than men. Shingles in people under 40 can lead to stroke. These and other news from the world of health and medicine in this week’s Medical News Notes.

Sleep Essential to Long-Term Brain Health

Swedish researchers have found more evidence to support what experts have been telling us for years: A good night’s sleep is essential to good health. In this case, brain health. Researchers from Uppsala University looked at two types of molecules known to be associated with brain damage. They took blood samples from a group of test subjects who had slept for eight solid hours and compared them against subjects who were deprived of sleep all night. In all cases, the concentration of target molecules was highest in the sleep-deprived subjects. This suggested the non-sleepers’ brains had experienced some physical injury. The researchers’ conclusion: Losing sleep doesn’t just make you feel lousy — it can also literally cause brain damage. That’s something to sleep on. Read the whole story here:

Sleep Deprivation Associated with Auto Accidents

And speaking of sleep deprivation, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 15 to 33 percent of fatal car crashes are the result of drowsy drivers. In a recent study, 1 out of 24 respondents admitted to have fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once during the previous month. Sixty percent said they had driven while sleepy during the previous year. And in a telephone survey, 40 percent of people admitted to falling asleep or nodding off while behind the wheel during the previous 12 months. Incidents of drowsy driving are highest among men, who suffer more from sleep apnea and other disorders than do women. If the CDC’s numbers hold true, sleep deprivation is as harmful as alcohol when it comes to fatal traffic accidents. Read the whole story here:

Shingles in People Under 40 Could Increase Stroke Risk

Shingles is the term used to describe the reactivation of the herpes zoster virus in people who have already had chicken pox. Shingles usually takes the form of a painful rash that develops along nerve routes. Now, researchers in the UK have concluded that having shingles significantly increases the chances for having a stroke or mini-stroke in people under 40. This increase can be as high as 75 percent, independent of other risk factors such as smoking and obesity. Currently, the shingles vaccine is recommended only for people 60 years and older. These new findings could change this long-standing policy and make it available for people of any age. Read the whole story here:

High Blood Pressure More Serious Health Risk for Women

Science confirms it: Men are different from women — at least when it comes to the effects of high blood pressure. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers from North Carolina’s Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center looked at how hypertension — high blood pressure — affects the sexes. They discovered that women with readings of 140/90 or higher are 30 to 40 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disease than their male counterparts. The researchers hope this discovery will change the kind of treatment men and women with hypertension receive from their doctors. Read the whole story here:

Scientists Find Ways to Turn Off ‘Aging Genes’

Could stopping the ravages of aging be as simple as flipping a switch? Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel have discovered two genes that, when immobilized, appear to reverse the aging process — at least in yeast. They’re now trying to see if the gene switch has the same effect in mice. Eventually, they hope to test their theory on humans. Can you imagine living 200 years as a 30-year-old? Oy vey! Read the whole story here:

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