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Fitchits

Good for the heart 

Being married may reduce the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular death, a review of studies published in the journal Heart has found. Compared with married people, those who were unmarried - whether never married, widowed or divorced - were 42 per cent more likely to have some form of cardiovascular disease. The unmarried also had a 43 per cent increased likelihood of coronary heart disease death and a 55 per cent increased risk for death from stroke. Stroke risk was higher for the unmarried and divorced, but not for the widowed. Is marriage more advantageous for men or for women? Cardiologist at Keele University in England and co-author of the study, Dr Chun Shing Kwok's response was cautious. "Our findings suggest both men and women benefit from marriage," he said.

Stress sparks autoimmune disease

Having a stress-related psychiatric condition may increase the risk for autoimmune disease, a study in JAMA concludes. Stress is known to cause physiological changes, including changes in immune function, but evidence that links it to specific diseases is limited. Compared with those who had not had severe stress, those with any stress-related disorder were 36 per cent more likely to have an autoimmune disease. People with a PTSD diagnosis were at higher risk - they were 46 per cent more likely to develop an autoimmune illness.

Fitness fights depression

Physical fitness in middle age is tied to a lower risk of later-life depression and death from cardiovascular disease, a study in JAMA Psychiatry reports. Depression and cardiovascular disease rates declined steadily as fitness in middle age increased. Compared with those in the lowest fitness category, people in the highest were 16 per cent less likely to have depression, 61 per cent less likely to have cardiovascular illness without depression, and 56 per cent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease after becoming depressed.

Cold nose? Working too hard

The next time you suspect you are overdoing things mentally, a quick check of your nose temperature could prove illuminating. Scientists have discovered that a cold hooter is a sign of thinking too hard. In a study published in Human Factors, researchers used thermal imaging cameras on the faces of 14 volunteers while they carried out mental tasks. They found that the nose temperature of those feeling overwhelmed dropped by around 1°Celsius. Scientists say it is a sign that the brain is overworking, and has diverted blood from elsewhere in the body to help its neurons. Extremities, like the nose, suffer first because it take more energy to pump blood to them.

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