Notes and shorts from around the world


Blood pressure and dementia
Women are 50% more likely to develop dementia than men, a disparity which has long puzzled scientists. But a US study has suggested a possible explanation: it could be because women are affected more severely by cardiovascular problems. Researchers at the University of California analysed 5,646 adults over several decades and found that women who had hypertension (high blood pressure) were 73% more likely to develop dementia than women with healthy blood pressure; yet among men, there was no such link.
Previous research has shown that women with high blood pressure are more likely than men to develop heart disease – and the researchers suspect that it may be similarly harmful to their brains. “I think this study reinforces that we really need to look at the possibility of sex-specific pathways and that risk factors don't necessarily behave the same way in women,” said Paola Gilsanz, the paper's lead author.
Dog days
In a decision hailed as a landmark by animal rights charities, an Italian woman has won her battle to be paid for time she took off work to care for her sick dog,
a 12-year-old English setter called Cucciola. The 53-year-old librarian at Sapienza University in Rome, identified only by her first name, Anna, took two days off work in order to accompany Cucciola to the vet for two different operations. She told her employers that as she is unmarried and lives alone, her dogs are in effect her “family”. She argued that the days off should therefore be treated as paid compassionate leave. “It is a significant step forward which recognised that animals that are not kept for financial gain or their working ability are effectively members of the family,” said Gianluca Felicetti, of the Italian animal rights group whose lawyers helped Anna present her case to her employers.
Fisherman's mistake
An angler in Dorset, UK, nearly died when a Dover sole leapt down his throat. Sam Quilliam, 28, was fishing off Boscombe pier when he caught the 15cm fish. Before throwing it back, he decided to plant a kiss on it – but the joke backfired. “I squeezed it and, like a bar of soap, it jumped out of my hand and into my mouth … and swam down my throat,” he said. “I ran round the pier like a headless chicken and then passed out.” Paramedic Matt Harrison raced to the scene and used forceps to extract the fish from his windpipe. “I have never attended a more bizarre incident,” he said, “and don't think I ever will.”
Bons mots
“A marriage is always made up of two people who are prepared to swear that only the other one snores.” Comic novelist, Terry Pratchett, UK

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