Digesta Plaga #12

Get out the bunting, Maude – a mere six months after the last one, it’s time for a new Stroke News Digest!

Steve Carell doing a great job far right
Alright, settle down.

[Check out the Apoplexy Tiny Letter for your soundtrack before settling in.]

1. Sleeper

A month ago, I was writing here in the blog about research that had

linked shift work to obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders that can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

So what we all need is a good night’s sleep, right? WRONG! Or, RIGHT! Or…

It's bit late for a trigger warning, but that's a real horse's head
Seriously man, you slept through that?

According to this report on a study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association

[m]ore than seven or eight hours a night of sleep is associated with higher risk of premature death


staying in bed for more than 10 hours was… linked to a 56% increased risk of death from stroke.

But just like in the discussion of sleep patterns in Nightshiftit pays to read beyond the headline. The lead researcher, Dr Chun Shing Kwok of Keele University’s Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, explains that there are any number of influences on our sleep patterns that may lead to us spending more time in bed, including the need to care for family members, irregular working shift patterns, mental illness, and the 24-hour availability of commodities in modern society.

I’ve got to admit, the 24-hour availability of commodities is something I miss from NYC. Anyway, if you have the good fortune to get a chance to stay in bed for 10 hours, go for it, I say.*

2. Omega

You've redecorated. I don't like it.
“Omega will make me feel better? I’m not buying it.”

Maybe you’re getting some extra sleep and reckon you should be doing something to offset that terribly unhealthy habit. Like taking omega-3 supplements, for example.

Don’t bother, another new study says. In this case, the supplements won’t protect you from stoke, heart attack, or early death.

The belief that [omega-3 supplements protect] the heart has spread – and is promoted in the marketing of the supplements – because the results from early trials suggested the capsules had cardiovascular benefits.

A finding that this isn’t the case didn’t come as a terrible surprise to me. At a recent blood pressure check-up at my doctors’ office, the nurse couldn’t find much wrong with my post-stroke healthy lifestyle and was reduced to telling me to eat more oily fish. Not the supplements.

OK, Boy Wonder. Go ahead.
“I’m gonna need all you got of this.”*

The lead author of this particular study said there was not enough trial evidence to show whether or not eating more oily fish is beneficial – although she suspected it probably is, because extra fish replaces something else in the diet which may be less good for you.

Another professor of cardiovascular medicine says save the money you’d spend on supplements and spend the money of vegetables instead.

3. Get Salty?

A final recent study in this Stroke Digest, and this one’s a biggie, covering 90,000 people in more than 300 communities in 18 countries. It was carried out by the creepily-named Population Health Research Institute and McMaster University in Canada.

Nice hat, big man
“Where you can learn to take free kicks like John McMaster!”*

I was quite excited about this one, because not so long ago, a New York Times article about cooking with salt changed my relationship with the condiment. Growing up in a family where we always adhered to the prevalent medical advice about cutting down on salt, I had always kind of kept it at arms’ length. It turns out that it really does help with one’s cooking.

The new study

suggests campaigns to persuade people to cut down may only be worthwhile in countries with very high sodium consumption, such as China.

Great news, right? WRONG! Or, RIGHT! Or…

This is what happens to people who don't edit properly.
“You’ve done this bit. Watch yourself.” – Ed.

It turns out that two years ago, the same team published a study with similar results, that was panned as “bad science”. This new one has been attacked, inter alia, for not accurately measuring the amount of sodium in people’s urine.

So, in order to live forever, apoplectic.me suggests* that you:

  • Get more sleep.
  • Sleep less.
  • Take omega-3 supplements.
  • Don’t take omega-3 supplements.
  • Consume less salt.
  • Consume as much salt as you like.

Good luck!

*Disclaimer: Stroke Bloke is not a trained medical professional.
*Disclaimer: Stroke Bloke is not a trained medical professional.
*Disclaimer: You are not John McMaster. C’mon. Look at yourself.
*Disclaimer: Stroke Bloke is not a trained medical professional.

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