Today’s Headlines: Late Night Eating, Googling and Anger

Eating when you should be sleeping may affect your brain. After a long day of work or a late night out, you might find yourself reaching for snacks when you should be hitting the sack. New research has found this sort of eating may disrupt learning and memory if it happens often enough. “In the experiment, the researchers allowed one group of mice to eat when they normally would, while mice in a second group could only munch during their normal sleep time. All of the rodents ate the same amount of food and slept the same amount of hours. After a few weeks of this, the mice were given learning tests. It turned out the mice that ate when they should have been sleeping were severely compromised in their ability to remember what they learned. They also had more trouble recognizing a new object and showed changes in their hippocampus, a brain region involved in learning and memory.” The researchers say an occasional slip up probably isn’t a big deal. But their findings add to a growing body of evidence that chronically working nights can have serious health effects. (NBC)

Googling your hospital may give you skewed information. When deciding where to get a certain procedure done, the first place you probably turn is Google. But new research has found that searching for this sort of information online can be misleading. “Researchers took a look at a study about online ads for transaortic valve replacement, or TAVR, a minimally invasive procedure for treating the narrowing of the aortic valve that is common in older adults, particularly men. The study reviewed the online advertisements of all 317 U.S. hospitals that offer TAVR and found that all of them cited the benefits of the procedure — but only one-fourth acknowledged that it had any risk. And fewer than 5 percent of the hospitals quantified the risks in a way that would be useful to consumers. Many of the ads, the researchers noted, are very informational — with graphs, diagrams, statistics and physician testimonials — and therefore not identifiable to patients as promotional material.” The problem with this sort of information, the researchers point out, is that it looks authentic and professional but only really tells a story aimed at selling a product. “Although consumers who are bombarded by television commercials may be aware that they are viewing an advertisement, hospital websites often have the appearance of being an education portal [when, in fact, they are advertisements].” (Washington Post)

Getting angry or anxious can up your heart attack risk. Clenching your fists when your blood is boiling may seem like a good way to let off steam, but researchers have found that getting that angry could have some serious side effects.  “Researchers in Australia found that people’s risk of having a heart attack is 8.5 times higher during the two hours following an episode of intense anger, compared with when people feel less angry. Anxiety is even more threatening, the researchers found. People’s heart attack risk is 9.5 times higher during the two hours following elevated levels of anxiety (higher than the 90th percentile on an anxiety scale) than during times of lower anxiety levels, according to the study.” The study adds to evidence that your emotions can affect physiologic functions in your body, like what your heart is doing. “It’s likely that the increased risk of a heart attack following intense anger and anxiety is the result of increased heart rate and blood pressure, tightening of blood vessels, and increased clotting, all associated with triggering of heart attacks. But both anger and anxiety can be managed with treatment.” The researchers point out that the risk of having a heart attack is still small, but learning to handle your emotions may benefit your heart in the long run. (Fox)