AUGUST 01, 2008

Irregular Sleep Patterns Risky for Older Men

In the first study of its kind, researchers found that older men with abnormal sleeping patterns may face a greater risk of death. The findings were presented recently at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

For up to 13 nights, the 3053 participants aged >67 wore wrist actigraphs, wristwatch-like devices that measure body movement and allow researchers to assess when individuals are awake or asleep. The researchers followed the patients for 6 years to record if and when they died.

Differences in mortality rates remained even after factoring in poor health, race, and alcohol intake. The participants who hit their peaks of activity at the earliest and latest times of day were 80% more prone to die.

The study results are inconclusive because the researchers did not calculate how many years earlier the patients died if they had abnormal sleeping patterns. Furthermore, the findings did not make clear whether night owls or early risers are at risk.

Low Testosterone Going Untreated?

Despite access to care, men with low testosterone (androgen deficiency) levels do not receive care, according to a study reported in the May 26, 2008, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study included 97 Boston-area men, of whom only 11 were prescribed treatment.

Treatments included testosterone gel (1 patient); testosterone patch (3 patients); testosterone cream (1 patient); an injectable form of testosterone called testosterone cypionate (1 patient); and unspecified formulations of testosterone (5 patients). The researchers noted that men with untreated androgen deficiency were more prone to have low socioeconomic status, no health insurance, and to depend on the emergency room or hospital outpatient clinic for primary care.

The researchers also found that all men with treated and untreated low testosterone were more likely to report receiving regular care and visiting their physician more often.

?And Linked with Health Conditions

New studies show that low testosterone levels put men at great risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and early death. Some health care experts suggest that low testosterone levels are associated with depression, decreased libido, and metabolic syndrome and that testosterone replacement therapy may have positive effects.

One study found that testosterone treatment considerably reduced abdominal fat, total cholesterol, lowdensity lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and body mass index, while also helping to raise high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. A second showed that men older than 63 benefited as much as younger men, and a third study found that low testosterone ups a man?s chance of premature death from any cause in the long run. The studies were presented recently at the Endocrine Society?s annual meeting.

Gender Disparities Exist with CAP Treatment

Research from the University of Pittsburgh found disparities in how men and women with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) were treated in emergency rooms (ERs). The study examined roughly an equal number of men and women with CAP recruited in the ERs of 28 US hospitals.

The study indicated that women, on average, manifested pneumonia symptoms for a longer time before going to the ER, but a majority already had been prescribed antibiotics before admission. Men, however, went to the hospital with more complications and had worse vital signs. Once admitted, men more often received antibiotics within 8 hours and were twice as likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit. The study also found that men had a greater risk of dying within a year.

Inadequate Vitamin D Levels Up Heart Attack Odds

Medical records and blood samples from 454 men, aged 40 to 75, indicated that a vitamin D deficiency may raise the risk of heart attack in men. The participants had a nonfatal heart attack or fatal heart disease and were compared with 900 men who had no history of cardiovascular disease.

Reporting in the June 9, 2008, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers found that men with a vitamin D deficiency (≤15 ng/mL of blood) had more risk of heart attack, compared with patients with a sufficient amount of vitamin D (≥30 ng/mL of blood). "These results further support an important role for vitamin D in myocardial infarction risk," concluded the researchers.

F A S T   F A C T : The most commonly diagnosed cancers among men are prostate, lung, and colorectal.

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