Health Highlights: May 7, 2008

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

Too Much, Too Little Sleep Not Good for Health: Study

People who sleep fewer than six hours a night -- or more than nine -- are more likely to be obese, have higher smoking rates, drink more alcohol, and be physically inactive, according to a U.S. government report released Wednesday.

The findings were based on door-to-door surveys of 87,000 adults from 2004 through 2006, conducted by the National Center for

    • Too Much, Too Little Sleep Not Good for Health: Study
    • Ischemic Stroke Hospitalization Rate Decreases
    • Guideline Outlines Effective Smoking Cessation Treatments
    • U.S. Obstructing Heparin Inquiry: China
    • Children's Infectious Disease Spreading in China
    • Middle-Aged Mothers Most Stressed: Survey

Health Statistics. The study did not account for contributing factors such as depression, which has been shown to influence heavy eating, smoking, sleeplessness and other problems, according to the Associated Press.

About 33 percent of those who slept less than six hours were obese. Of those who slept nine hours or more, the rate of obesity was 26 percent, with normal sleepers being the thinnest at 22 percent, the AP reported.

Smoking rates were highest -- at 31 percent -- for those who got less than six hours of sleep, compared with respondents who got nine or more hours, at 26 percent.

Alcohol consumption was greatest for those who slept the least, but use rates for those sleeping seven to eight hours and those getting nine hours were similar. And almost half who slept nine hours or more were physically inactive in their leisure time, worse than the lightest sleepers and proper sleepers, the news service said.


Ischemic Stroke Hospitalization Rate Decreases

Between 1997 and 2005, the rate of hospitalizations for ischemic stroke in the United States decreased by one third, according to the latest News and Numbers from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

An ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a blood clot.

In 2005, 36 of every 10,000 Americans age 45 and older were hospitalized for ischemic stroke, compared to 54 of every 10,000 in 1997. During that same period of time, hospitalizations for hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain) remained fairly stable, ranging from nine to 11 for every 10,000 Americans.

The report also said that in 2005:

  • Six percent of patients with ischemic stroke died while in hospital, compared with 25 percent of hemorrhagic stroke patients.
  • The percentage of hospitalized patients transferred to rehabilitation facilities or nursing homes varied by condition: 44 percent of patients with ischemic stroke; 37 percent of those with hemorrhagic stroke; 13 percent of those with mini-strokes (which involve shorter-lasting stroke symptoms but are often precursors to strokes); and five percent of patients with blocked or narrowed arteries, which can lead to strokes.
  • While stroke was most common in older people, one in 10 hemorrhagic stroke patients admitted to hospital was younger than 45.


Guideline Outlines Effective Smoking Cessation Treatments

Medication and counseling treatments proven effective for helping people quit smoking are outlined in an updated clinical practice guideline released Wednesday by the U.S. Public Health Service.

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