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Sleep and Stroke: Daytime Dozing Linked To Higher Risk


Do you typically nod off during the day? For older adults, that could be a sign of increased risk of stroke, a new study shows.

Older adults in their 70s who unintentionally doze off during daytime activities  -- for example, while reading, watching TV, sitting in a public place, or riding in a car or bus -- have a three times greater risk of stroke than less sleepy seniors, New York and Florida researchers found.

While problems like sleep apnea, which can disrupt nighttime sleep, have been linked to cardiovascular problems, researchers  looked at the relationship between daytime sleepiness and stroke. The  study was published online July 10 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Senior study author Bernadette Boden-Albala of Columbia University and other researchers used data collected in 2004 from more than 2,000 northern Manhattan residents in their mid-70s, according to the Wall Street Journal. About two-thirds of the residents were women.

Subjects were asked to rate themselves on how often they dozed in six sample situations. Based on their answers, there were 921 nondozers, 981 moderate dozers and 186 severe dozers.

During more than five years of follow-up, researchers found that the risk for any kind of stroke was three times higher among the severe daytime dozers as compared to nondozers.

Despite this finding, researchers found no link between daytime dozing and heart attacks. They also noted that the stroke findings only show a relationship, not a cause. The findings could be influenced by other factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure, as well as the role of stress, depression or other psychological factors.

And, of course, one reason older adults could feel sleepy during the day is because they have poor quality nighttime sleep.

Bottom line: Sleep abnormalities -- whether during the day or night -- should be seen as a sign of possibly serious health problems, including a higher risk of stroke.

As researchers wrote, "These findings suggest the importance of screening for sleep problems at the primary care level."

In other health news:

New ad campaign reflects caregivers cry for help. Dramatic new public service announcements, showing caregivers silently screaming, have been launched to spotlight the struggle of millions of Americans trying to take care of ailing loved ones while also holding down a job, raising children and taking care of their own health, the Associated Press reports. "I take care of her, but who takes care of me?" is the one of the ad's taglines.

Johnson & Johnson to remove harmful chemicals from products. The New York Times reports that Johnson & Johnson, maker of a range of personal care products, has announced it will remove a host of potentially harmful chemicals, like formaldehyde, from its line of consumer products by the end of 2015, becoming the first major consumer products company to make such a widespread commitment. The company previously said it would remove the chemicals from its baby products by 2013.

Dallas mayor declares West Nile virus emergency. The mayor of Dallas declared a state of emergency on Wednesday  to combat the spread of West Nile virus infections, which have been more prevalent than usual in Texas and other states this year, Reuters reports. Of the 693 cases of the virus this year, half have been in Texas. The CDC said there have been more cases of West Nile virus reported so far this year than any year since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999.

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