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Health scan

A snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 19, 2012 00:55 IST

A snapshot of the current thinking in medicine, fitness and lifestyle trends that impact your life.

Troubled sleep affects memory in old age
How much and how well you sleep affects your memory later in life. Disrupted sleep causes the build-up of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, in the brains of people without memory problems, report researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The study found that people who woke up more than five times an hour were more likely to have amyloid plaque build-up compared to those who didn't wake up as much.

Texting affects ability to interpret words
Texting though cellphones has a negative impact on people's linguistic ability to interpret and accept words. A survey of university students about their reading habits, including text messaging, showed that those who texted more were less accepting of new words. On the other hand, those who read more traditional print media such as books, magazines and newspapers were more accepting of the same words.

Reading traditional print media encourages flexibility in language use and tolerance of different words, and helps readers to develop skills that allow them to generate interpretable readings of new or unusual words. In contrast, texting is associated with rigid linguistic constraints.

Losing weight is contagious
How much and how fast you lose weight depends on how much support you get from people around you. Not only did people in a team-based weight-loss competition who said their teammates played a large role in losing weight actually lost the most, but other teams also achieved similar weight loss outcomes. Online team-based weight loss interventions are increasing in popularity as a way to encourage it in large groups of people."We're all influenced by the people around us, so if we can harness this positive peer pressure and these positive social influences, we can create a social environment to help encourage additional weight loss," said researchers in the journal Obesity.

Bad air raises risk of heart attacks
Even a seven-day exposure to air-pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide raises risk of heart attacks, reports a large review study. Air pollution increases heart rate and lowers heart-rate variability, raises blood viscosity (stickiness of the blood that reduces smooth flow) and promotes blood-clot formation. It also aggravates atherosclerosis, in which fatty deposits in the inner walls of the arteries cause them thicken and harden, blocking blood flow.

Hundreds of studies have associated air pollution with both lung and heart diseases, but this is the first large review to confirm that even short-term exposure to polluted air can trigger heart attacks and strokes.

Seniors going online for dates
It seems the desire to find love and a companion has no expiration date. People think that online dating is only for the young, but above-60s are the fastest-growing demographic in online dating, shows a study on online dating by Bowling Green State University.

The elderly, however, look for different qualities than their younger counterparts. More than appearance and status, the senior population is more interested in honest self-representation and being compatible rather than discussing areas such as sexual prowess and nightlife.