Roundup: Working Overtime and Stroke Risk; Coffee Burns Fat?; and Heart Disease Impact on Brain

Working Long Hours, Over 10 Years, May Increase Risk of Stroke, Study Finds

Stress from too many hours at work over several years may increase your risk of stroke, according to new research published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

For the study, long work hours were defined as working more than 10 hours for at least 50 days per year. Part-time workers and those who suffered strokes before working long hours were excluded from the study.

They found that participants working long hours had a 29 percent greater risk of stroke, and those working long hours for 10 years or more had a 45 percent greater risk of stroke.

Researchers looked at data from a French population-based study started in 2012 on 143,592 adults, ages 18 to 69. Cardiovascular risk factors and previous stroke incidents were taken into consideration.

“The association between 10 years of long work hours and stroke seemed stronger for people under the age of 50,” said study author Alexis Descatha, M.D., a researcher at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. “This was unexpected. Further research is needed to explore this finding.”

Researchers also found that 29 percent of participants, or 42,542, reported working long hours, and 10 percent or 14,481, reported working long hours for 10 years or more.

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For Some, Drinking Coffee Could Help Burn Fat, Researchers say

Could drinking coffee help you lose weight? For coffee drinkers, that may sound like a too-good-to-be-true concept. But a new study finds that coffee could have a direct effect on the body’s “brown fat” functionality.

Brown adipose tissue (BAT), also known as brown fat, is one of two types of fat found in humans. Its main function is to generate body heat by burning calories (opposed to white fat, which is a result of storing excess calories), according to researchers.

The new study from scientists from the University of Nottingham in England also supports previous findings that people with a lower body mass index (BMI) have a higher amount of brown fat.

“This is the first study in humans to show that something like a cup of coffee can have a direct effect on our brown fat functions,” states Michael Symonds, a professor from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, who co-directed the study. “The potential implications of our results are pretty big, as obesity is a major health concern for society and we also have a growing diabetes epidemic and brown fat could potentially be part of the solution in tackling them.”

The team of researchers inititiated their work with a series of stem cell studies to see if caffeine would stimulate brown fat.They then used a thermal imaging technique to trace the body’s brown fat reserves. The non-invasive technique helped them locate brown fat and assess its capacity to produce heat.

The researchers said they are continuing to ascertain if the caffeine in coffee is one of the ingredients acting as the stimulus, or if there’s another coffee component helping with the activation of brown fat.

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Heart Disease Could Affect Cognitive Decline Later in Life

New research finds that patients with coronary heart disease are at greater risk of having cognitive decline later in their lives.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that scores on cognitive tests — that covers verbal memory and orientation of time — dropped faster after patients received a diagnosis of heart disease — compared to those who did not.

The researchers explained that previous studies on the same issue have shown mixed results because they focused on the role of incidents, such as strokes, that result in a quicker cognitive decline thereafter. But the new study found a longer-term impact on the brain after monitoring stroke-free adults for a median of 12 years — and further looking at a subset of patients who had been diagnosed with a heart attack or angina, a chest pain resulting from decreased flow of blood to the heart.

Cardiovascular disease is belived to have an impact on the brain’s function in different ways, experts say. It could have an effect on small blood vessels, disrupting the flow of oxygen to parts of the brain. Heart disease and brain issues share some risk factors that can start early in life, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

There are other factors, researchers said. The study’s authors conceded that they couldn’t exclude the possible impact of medications and other doctor-prescribed treatments on newly diagnosed heart disease patients.

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