This week’s roundup: liver disease, long COVID-19 recovery


You may think of a cat nap as a short snooze, but cats are actually super-sleepers, often slumbering for 12 to 18 hours a day. That’s healthy for them, but for humans, sleeping more than an hour while the sun shines can be a sign of developing liver problems, according to a study in BMC Gastroenterology. It found that compared with folks who don’t nap, those who slept for 60 minutes or more in the daytime have a 200% increased risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) -- a potentially serious condition that afflicts an estimated 25% of U.S. adults and often goes undiagnosed. So, if you’re taking hour-long snoozes during the day, inform your doctor so she/he can check for NAFLD and, if needed, help you manage it.

From long naps to long COVID-19. Ten percent to 30% of folks who’ve had COVID-19 will develop long COVID-19. They have a 63% increased risk of heart attack and a 52% increased risk of stroke, compared with folks who never caught the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says breathing exercises; sitting aerobic and strength-building exercises, initially, and then walking and standing workouts; and the use of medications such as anti-hypertensives can help reduce your risks. Talk to your doc about an individually tailored rehabilitation routine.

Quick tip: A new study finds that mindfulness training helps relieve chronic pain and reduces misuse of opioids for almost half of folks who give it a try. Discover MORE (Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement) at Also, try the free “Unwinding by Sharecare” app.

How chronic inflammation spreads like wildfire in your body

During the brutal wildfire season last year, California’s Dixie fire laid waste to more than 192,000 acres. The Bootleg/Log fire in Oregon was even larger, covering more than 400,000 acres. Like those wildfires, inflammation in your body can spread, leaving scorched (well, damaged) tissue behind, say researchers in a new study in the journal Cell.

When the researchers looked at inflammatory conditions like gum disease, arthritis and heart disease, they found that they can ignite inflammation in other, seemingly unconnected, parts of your body. That’s why people with gum disease often develop cardiovascular problems or arthritis, or those with arthritis are more likely to also end up with gum disease.

But how does that happen? It seems that your immune system -- when revved up by one of those inflammatory conditions -- gets turned on to such a degree that the newborns in your bone marrow’s immune cell nursery are supercharged when they emerge and enter your bloodstream. Instead of battling outside invaders (bacteria and viruses), they become troublemakers -- causing inflammation in your cardiovascular system, joints, gums and elsewhere.

That’s why chronic inflammation needs to be avoided -- or put out. To do that, you need a balance of enough (but not excessive) physical exercise, restful sleep, smart stress management and a diet loaded with colorful fruits and vegetables, omega-3-rich fish like salmon and 100% whole grains. Then your immune system can fight off potential disease and avoid becoming the cause of a bad fire season inside your body.