Marilynn Marchione is an outstanding medical writer for the Associated Press and someone I had the good fortune to work with in the past when she was with The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Reporting today from the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans, Marilynn filed this information:

“Columbia University researchers led by Bernadette Boden-Albala found that a simple scoring system to evaluate daytime dozing strongly predicted stroke risk. They asked 2,100 people, average age 73, how often they nodded off during specific situations during the day – watching TV, reading, sitting and talking to someone, sitting in traffic, or sitting quietly after lunch.

In the next two years, 40 had strokes and 127 had other blood vessel-related problems such as heart attacks or blood clots in the lungs.

The odds of having a stroke were nearly five times greater among heavy dozers, and nearly three times greater among occasional dozers, compared with people who rarely nodded off. The chances of other vessel-related problems were higher, too.

Unintentional dozing is different from purposely taking a nap, although “we need to look at that” to see if regular siestas also are a sign of poor nighttime sleep, Boden-Albala said.

Frequent dozers should talk with their doctors about being evaluated for a sleep disorder. Possible solutions include a device that helps maintain continuous air pressure, losing weight if they are overweight, and even surgery if the airway is obstructed.”

That’s great advice.

Steve Gardner