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Obese heart patients ‘less likely to die’, caves that can banish pain and how going to the loo in the night makes you less productive

Despite being in worse health and being less likely to follow lifestyle advice, obese cardiac patients are less likely to die than their normal weight counterparts, the BBC reports.

Researchers at University College London said one explanation could be that doctors treat the disease more aggressively in obese patients.

They looked at data from patients who took part in the Health Survey for England or Scottish Health Survey, and found obese or overweight patients with cardiovascular disease were less likely to die over the next seven years than those at normal weight who had the condition.

Study leader Dr Mark Hamer said although it appeared that one of the risk factors for heart disease could improve survival rates, he would not advise patients to gain weight or ignore lifestyle advice.

‘We don’t yet understand this paradox and we would clearly not advise patients to put on weight. One of the more sensible explanations may be that when obese patients present to their doctor, they are given more aggressive treatment because they are seen as very high risk.’

‘We do know, for example with cardiac rehabilitation, that the thing that absolutely works is exercise - that dramatically reduces risk even though you don’t necessarily lose weight.’

Other work by his team has shown that a certain proportion of obese patients have very normal health and are not at increased risk of heart disease.

‘BMI is quite a poor marker of what’s going on,’ Dr Hamer added.

Are you feeling particularly unproductive at work lately? It could be because you’re going to the loo in the night, the Daily Telegraph reports.

A study presented to the European Association of Urology congress in Milan found that getting up overnight to use the loo has a bigger impact on a person’s work rate than asthma or chronic lung diseases.

Researchers concluded that nocturia - where a person wakes up once or more in the night to urinate - is a serious health condition and is underestimated.

The team examined 261 women and 285 men with nocturia and questioned them about its effect on their ability to perform regular activities and their productivity at work.

Nocturia reduced work productivity by 24% - more than the loss shown by people with asthma or lung disease. Their ability to carry out leisure activities in the day was also reduced by 34%.

The researchers also found that disturbed sleep was the most burdensome symptom of the condition, as around a third are unable to drop off again which leads to insomnia.

Philip Van Kerrebroeck, professor of urology at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, said: ‘Nocturia is a common problem affecting around a third of adults, but its burden is underestimated and it is often dismissed as being less serious than other chronic conditions in terms of impact on quality of life and societal costs.’

‘These data show that nocturia negatively affects both sleep and daytime performance and its impact on work productivity is in line with many other chronic conditions. Patients with nocturia should seek specific treatment for this debilitating condition.’

And finally the Daily Mail brings us news of caves that can banish pain, apparently. The Gastein healing caves in Radhausberg mountain offer a controversial form of therapy with radioactive radon gas which is used to treat medical condition including arthritis, joint pain, chronic bronchitis and skin conditions such as psoriasis.

The medical staff are said to be evangelical about the healing benefits of the low-level radon gas found in the caves. It can offer pain relief, reduce the need for medication and stimulate the body’s anti-inflammatory abilities, they said.

The therapy is accepted in Austria and Germany and is available on health insurance. Last year 75,000 people - mostly from Central Europe - came to the caves for treatment.

Yet doctors in the UK are sceptical as high doses of radon gas is believed to be toxic and can increase the risk of lung cancer.

Dr Hasan Tahir, a consultant rheumatologist at Whipps Cross University Hospital in east London, said: ‘It may be an interesting option for patients to take this treatment alongside conventional medicine.’ 

‘However, as radon is potentially carcinogenic – admittedly at a much higher dose – I would like to see more long-term safety data.’