Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Aging gracefully - or at least while sleeping - might be important

Sleep well?

I must admit that the older I get, the more often I wake up in the middle of the night. Thankfully, I usually go right back to sleep after a small excursion.

Still, measuring sleep quality, especially for seniors, might important information in managing one's stroke risk. Recent research suggests that for seniors, poor sleep may mean higher stroke risk:
Researchers examined the autopsied brains of 315 people, average age 90, who had undergone at least one full week of sleep quality assessment before their death. Twenty-nine percent of them had suffered a stroke, and 61 percent had moderate-to-severe damage to blood vessels in the brain.
Those with the highest levels of sleep fragmentation -- repeated awakenings or arousals -- were 27 percent more likely to have hardening of the brain arteries. Among study participants, sleep was disrupted an average of nearly seven times an hour.
For each additional two arousals during one hour of sleep, there was a 30 percent greater likelihood of having visible signs of oxygen deprivation in the brain, the study authors said.
However, the study was not designed to prove a cause-and-effect link between poor sleep and stroke risk.
The findings were independent of other stroke and heart disease risk factors, such as weight, diabetes, smoking and high blood pressure, as well as other health conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, depression, heart failure and pain, according to the study published Jan. 14 in the journal Stroke.
Now, it is important to note that poor sleep doesn't necessarily cause a stroke, but is a sign of risk. A link isn't the same as a cause. Still, it stands to reason that if you're having trouble sleeping, check with your doctor.

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