BMJ 2007; 334 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39213.390243.801 (Published 17 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1064

The characteristics of heart rate variability may be useful for predicting which patients with infections presenting to emergency departments are likely to develop septic shock. Twenty one of 81 patients enrolled in a study developed septic shock, and regression analysis identified the “root mean square successive difference” as the characteristic that best predicted this event (Academic Emergency Medicine 2007;14:392-7 doi: 10.1197/j.aem.2006.12.015). Before readers themselves go into shock, this characteristic can be automatically calculated by the machine that measures heart rate variability.

Does migraine affect cognitive function? A study in Neurology (2007;68;1417-24 doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000268250.10171.b3) suggests it does, but perhaps not as might be expected. Migraine sufferers, especially those who experience aura and those over 50, showed less decline on cognitive tasks over time than people who don't get migraine. They did score lower on tests of immediate and delayed memory at baseline, however.

Most studies of the impact of alcohol on health have focused on men. A study in Addiction (2007;102:730-9 doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2007.01765.x) looks at …

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