Studies have shown that people with sleep apnea are at risk for a host of chronic health problems, including cardiovascular disease. But whether sleep apnea--a temporary disruption of breathing during sleep--actually leads to the more serious health problem has not been investigated.
Now Swedish researchers who followed a group of 182 men with the breathing disorder found that at least one cardiovascular problem occurred in about a third of them during a seven-year period. The study also found that the men with sleep apnea--who were otherwise healthy--were five times more likely to suffer from heart disease than men without the disorder.
The good news in the study was that when sleep apnea was effectively treated, the risk of heart disease dropped. Treatment in this study included use of a breathing device that provides continuous positive airway pressure, surgery to remove obstructing tissue or a special mouth appliance to ease breathing.
The researchers at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg say the results of their study suggest that even mild forms of sleep apnea should be treated.
The incidence of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged women with sleep apnea was also high, but because of the small number of women in the study, the researchers didn't include them in their final analysis.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 166: 159-165.
Sinus Problems? You May Want to Hum a Few Bars
"Hum a tune and call me in the morning" may one day be a common prescription for treating sinus problems. New research shows that a daily humming exercise could turn out to be the best way to prevent sinus infections. Specialists in Sweden report that airflow between the nose and a connecting sinus increased 15-fold when 10 healthy men exhaled while humming compared with when they exhaled silently.
During normal breathing, nitric oxide gas produced in the sinuses passes through a tiny opening into the nasal passageway, where it is exhaled. Researchers Eddie Weitzberg and Jon Lundberg, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, were investigating a method for measuring the flow of nitric oxide when they discovered that humming made a dramatic difference.
One of the major influences in the flow of gas from the sinus cavity to the nose is the size of the tiny opening between them. When a person has an infection, swelling of the sinus makes that opening even smaller, blocking the flow of the gas and accumulated fluid. Current treatments such as decongestants, irrigations and, sometimes, surgery encourage drainage of the fluid.
In the Swedish experiments Weitzberg and Lundberg found that nearly all the gas content of in the maxillary sinuses, those tucked under the cheekbones, flowed out of the cavity when patients hummed for five seconds.
Researchers said more study is needed before doctors can recommend that sinusitis sufferers begin humming for relief.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 166: 144-145.
Fibromyalgia Patients Benefit From Aerobic Exercise
The simplest, least expensive and most effective treatment for fibromyalgia may be aerobic exercise, according to a new study by British rheumatologists. After three months of participation in an exercise program, 35% of men and women with the chronic muscular and joint pain rated their discomfort as much better. A year later, the benefits were maintained or improved.
The results of this study are especially important considering that people with fibromyalgia often are concerned that physical activity will make their pain worse.
More than 100 men and women with fibromyalgia but no other health problems were randomly assigned to a 12-week program of twice-a-week group classes of aerobic exercise such as treadmill walking, circuit training or stationary cycling, or non-aerobic activity such as relaxation and stretching. The intensity of the aerobic workouts was gradually increased over time.
Other studies have shown that exercise can benefit people with fibromyalgia over a matter of weeks or a few months. This is the first scientifically rigorous study to track results for a year.
The researchers said the exercises done in the study could be performed at most fitness centers and did not require instruction by fitness specialists trained to work with sick persons.
People with fibromyalgia should "start low and go slow," says Dr. Selwyn C.M. Richards, professor of clinical rheumatology at King's College Hospital in London. People with severe muscle pain might want to start with water exercises, he said.
British Medical Journal 325: 185.
Thong Underwear: Just Risque, or Risky Too?
Thong underwear may be sexy, but can it also pose a health risk, especially to women who are prone to vaginal and urinary tract infections?