Health Buzz: Sleep Apnea Raises Risk of Death and Other Health News

Health reform may be boon for insurers; America's 10 brainiest states

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Study Finds Sleep Apnea Increases Chance of Dying

Sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep, may increase the chance of chronic disease and even death, say researchers at Johns Hopkins University, according to Reuters. The authors of the study, published in PLoS Medicine, followed more than 6,400 men and women between the ages of 40 and 70 for about eight years. Their findings suggest that those with severe sleep apnea face a 46 percent greater risk of dying early than those without sleep breathing problems, according to Reuters. Men with severe sleep apnea saw their risk of dying more than double; they were also at greater risk of cardiovascular disease. People with mild sleep apnea did not face a greater risk of premature death, researchers found.

The latest study is the largest to date to look at sleep apnea and the risk of death. Last year, Australian researchers reported similar findings in the journal Sleep after studying 380 adults. Find out about the latest treatments for sleep apnea.

Health Reform Fattens Big Insurance and Taxes the Young

The only institution that might surpass Congress in drawing the wrath of Americans at lawmakers' town hall meetings this month is the health insurance industry, U.S. News's health columnist, physician Bernadine Healy, writes. Insurers agreed months ago to clean up at least some of their hated practices, such as denying insurance for prior illnesses and canceling coverage when someone gets sick. In return, they stand to get some colossal plums: a mandate not only that every American buy health insurance but that the mandated insurance be "comprehensive," another word for expensive, Healy writes. What polishes this plum even more is that the new customers these companies will pluck from the ranks of 45 million uninsured Americans will tilt toward healthy people who are young and working, a group relatively inexpensive to cover and a fount of revenue and profit, she writes.

Healy discusses how health reform would affect young adults. By tightly harnessing the premiums of the young and healthy to those of the old and sick, reform would redistribute dollars belonging to younger Americans—much as Medicare and Social Security already do, she writes.

Healy has written extensively on the subject of health reform. Earlier this month, she listed 4 details of the Houses health reform bill that promise to radically change some people's health experiences—and everyone's relationship with the government. In July, she proposed a two-part plan to fix the health insurance system. She has also described 7 ways health reform will affect Americans.

America's 10 Brainiest States

To raise awareness about the state of the nation's "brain health" and to encourage people to take action toward improving their own brain function, researchers released an index in June that purports to rank the "brain smarts" of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, U.S. News's Zach Miners reports.

Diet represented 36 percent of each state's score. Of several factors used to calculate the brain-healthfulness of the foods each state eats, sales of fish and DHA-fortified foods were weighted most heavily. Measures of the population's physical health accounted for 25 percent of each state's overall score; measures of mental health (such as reading activity) accounted for 24 percent; and indications of social well-being, 15 percent. The District of Columbia was at the top of the pack, thanks to the high amounts of fish and DHA omega-3-fortified foods and supplements consumed there, the quantity of fruits and vegetables its residents eat, and the fact that many of the capital's residents are bookworms. Here's the complete list of brainiest states along with tips to keep your brain healthy.

Find out the nation's 10 least brain-healthy states, and consider these 10 ways to get your omega-3s without a pill.

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