Young Blood and Other News

by DavalosMcCormack on May 21, 2008

I used to be a regular blood donor. Every few months, regular as clockwork, I would go to the local blood bank in London and have someone drain a pint out of my arm. But then Mad Cow Disease hit the UK and even though I now live in the US I was considered at risk, because I had lived in England and eaten British beef. So, no more blood donations.

That’s a shame, because as a new study shows not only are there more restrictions on who can give blood, even among those who are allowed to give there are fewer people doing so. The study found that repeat donations by people between the ages of 25 to 39 dropped 40 percent between 1995 and 2006.

You know what that means? We’re more than ever dependent on teenagers donating. And you know how reliable they are don’t you? Actually, teens are proving to be very reliable. The study, done by the Red Cross and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that around 15 percent of the nation’s blood supply comes from teenagers. Without them, we’d really be in trouble.

So next time you see a teen, thank them. They may not know what the heck you are talking about, but then, did they ever?

Sleep Apnea is bad for you. I mean, really, really bad for you.

More than 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. It’s basically a blockage in the airway that stops you breathing while you sleep. Even if you don’t have a very sophisticated grasp of human physiology you’ll recognize that anything that stops you breathing is not really very good. So, right from the outset you know it’s a bad thing.

Well, now two new studies show it’s a really really bad thing. The first, from a bunch of Swedish researchers, shows that people who have had a stroke, and who also happen to suffer from sleep apnea, die sooner than stroke victims who don’t have sleep apnea.

The second study, which was also presented alongside the first one at the American Thoracic Society’s 2008 International Conference in Toronto (don’t you feel sometimes that they put these things on just to get out of the house, or even the country, and have fun with their wacky, zany thoracic chums) Anyway. The study showed that people who have sleep apnea and just happen to be on a commercial airline are at greater risk of having a heart attack than healthy people.

Kind of a strange study you might say. And I’d have to agree with you.How did they get all those people on a plane? But the point is sleep apnea is a treatable condition. You can do things to fix it, so you don’t have to die of a stroke or have your dream holiday to Bora Bora ruined by dying on the plane. One of the biggest risk factors for sleep apnea is being overweight or obese. So, if you lose the weight you lose the problem.

I recently met a man who underwent bariatric surgery (stomach stapling kind of thing) and lost 170 pounds. As he originally weighed 340 pounds he was literally half the man he used to be. After surgery his diabetes went away, his blood cholesterol returned to normal, his blood pressure returned to normal, and his sleep apnea disappeared. Now I’m not recommending the surgery for anyone. I just pointed this out to show how getting your weight under control can have an amazing impact on all parts of your life. Even reduce your risk of losing it.

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