Same Finding Again and Again
Yet another study, summarized in this article by Reuters, indicates that adults who exercise moderately are less likely to die than those who don't. A sedentary life style---more so than risk factors associated with age or cardiovascular disease---significantly increased a person's chance of death. Also of note was that recent exercise was important because most people in the study had similar amounts of exercise through their adult lives. Recommended exercise is 30 minutes of an activity such as brisk walking, 5 days per week.
Sleep Apnea Increases Risk of Death
Sleep apnea raises the risk of chronic illness and premature death by as much as 40% for middle-aged and older men, according to an article by a HealthDay reporter who summarizes the findings of a recent study. Even moderate sleep apnea was found to increase the risk of premature death by 17%. The study also showed that decreased levels of oxygen during sleep apnea are the cause of the health problems---such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke---and of premature death. Given the alarming findings of the decade-long study, the researchers stressed the need for physicians to pay attention to their patients' sleep patterns. A common condition, sleep apnea affects one in four men and one in ten women; symptoms include loud snoring, interrupted breathing, and interrupted sleep.
(See also results of a community-based study in western Australia, also summarized by HealthDay. During 14 years of follow-up, the people with moderate to severe sleep apnea were 33% more likely to have died by the end of that period. By mid 2010, results of a larger study by a Boston researcher were reported in an article in the L.A. Times: Moderate to severe sleep apnea increased "the risk of coronary heart disease or death by 68% in men under the age of 70." The researcher reported that "The take-away from our study is that obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that warrants medical treatment" and that "Many patients don't experience symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, such as daytime sleepiness, or if they do, they don't mention it during routine medical exams. It's important for anyone who suspects they have obstructive sleep apnea to discuss it with their primary care physician.")
Catholic Sisters Show How to Face Death
In this article in the New York Times, Catholic nuns near Rochester, New York, reveal their method of dealing with the ends of their own lives, namely "with discernment." The Sisters have been modeling the factors that studies have shown can influence "successful aging and a gentle death": a network of caring relationships, intellectual stimulation, interest and purpose in life, and engagement in spiritual belief. Also, the Sisters and their doctor have learned that it's easier to make individual decisions about end-of-life issues at home in the convent than in the bustle of the hospital, that choosing aggressive medical treatments in the hospital usually isn't the best way to end one's life. The doctor concludes that these Sisters have the best deaths of any people he has seen.
Certain Drugs Can Increase Chance of Falls
According to a Reuters article, a recent 4-year study in France of over 6,000 community-living elderly people determined that use of certain drugs increased these people's risk of falling. The study participants' average age was "nearly 74." Long-acting benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety drug), increased the risk, compared with short- and intermediate-acting benzodiazepines. Similar risks were reported among this age group for regular use of antispasmodics and muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, and a particular type of antihistamine (anticholinergics, which block nerve response).