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Restless nights or making a habit of getting less than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep can increase the risk of inflammation, a known risk factor for both heart disease and stroke.

Restless nights or making a habit of getting less than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep can increase the risk of inflammation, a known risk factor for both heart disease and stroke.

The findings of the study were presented last week at the American Heart Association 2010 Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

The lead author, Dr. Alanna Morris, along with her research team, examined the data of 525 middle-aged individuals who were already part of a larger study and had completed a questionnaire on sleep quality. The questions asked about both sleep duration and quality.

Participants were then divided into different groups based on whether they slept less than six hours, between six and 8.9 hours or more than nine hours a night. Each group was then tested for specific inflammatory markers, notably fibrinogen, IL-6 and C-reactive protein. The results showed that participants with poor sleep quality had significantly higher levels of all three inflammation markers.

The levels of all three also differed when it came to sleep duration. Those who slept between six and 8.9 hours each night had significantly lower risk of all three markers compared to those who slept less than six hours a night. Curiously, there were no statistically significant differences between those that slept less than six hours and those that snoozed for more than nine.

“Poor sleep quality, and short sleep durations are associated with higher levels of inflammation,” the research team reported, citing improving both could help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Mixing herbal and dietary supplements with a specific blood-thinning medication can lead to negative side effects, according to a study released at the same convention.

Specifically, of 100 of the most popular over-the-counter products, more than two-thirds interfered with how Warfarin worked in the body, putting individuals suffering from conditions such as atrial fibrillation at an increased risk of stroke.

The medication prevents dangerous blood clots from forming and can also be prescribed to people with irregular heartbeats, prosthetic heart valves and heart attack patients. To find out just how pervasive these drug interactions were, doctors interviewed 100 people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation to find out if they fully understood the risks of mixing other products with Warfarin.

Of the 100, 35 patients were taking some sort of supplement. Of that total, more than half were unaware of the negative reaction risk. Most common were vitamins, fish oils, coenzyme Q10 and glucosamine/chondriotin. Characterizing the results as an alarming finding, lead physician Dr. T. Jared Bunch explained the supplements “competed” with Warfarin in the liver, which can alter the way the drug works. It can become over or under-active, which can lead to internal bleeding or stroke.

Kissing is all in good fun but can turn serious if one person has a food allergy to something their kissing partner has recently consumed, according to researchers at a recent symposium.

Revealed at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the study showed that the potential for an allergic reaction was present many hours after the food was consumed or the person who had eaten it had brushed and flossed.

As it turns out, the saliva is still excreting the allergen hours after the food is consumed or the person who has eaten has taken a turn with a toothbrush.

Allergist Sami Bahna said that the period between allergen consumption and the time at which a couple can kiss again can last as long as 16 to 24 hours, even if the non-allergic partner has abstained from the food in question, brushed his or her teeth and rinsed.

Men who have had bypass surgery and drink moderately drop their risk of any further cardiovascular event, including surgery, strokes, heart attacks and dying prematurely from a cardiovascular incident by nearly one-quarter, according to a new study.

Unfortunately, those who started knocking back six drinks a day had double the risk of dying from a heart-related ailment. Men who consumed no more than three alcoholic drinks per day had an even lower risk compared to those that didn’t drink at all.

Dr. Umberto Benedetto and his team looked at 1,021 men who had recently had bypass surgery, then used a questionnaire to solicit information on drinking habits. They then followed up to see who had further surgeries or cardiovascular events over a period of three and a half years.

The end result was that men who consumed about two drinks a day were 25 per cent less likely to have another surgery or event compared to other groups.

The American Heart Association was quick to caution against using alcohol as a remedy as it can increase blood pressure and put individuals at risk of other negative health consequences.