Keeping Abreast of Heart Disease Risk
Routine mammograms often reveal calcifications in the breast -- bright white lines snaking through the tissue. While not a sign of cancer, new research suggests they may provide clues to risk of cardiovascular disease.
The white lines are indicators of calcium buildup in the breast's arterial wall, which is different from coronary artery calcification, already known as a cardiovascular risk. In a study of more than 5,000 postmenopausal women, those with breast arterial calcification were 51% more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke compared with women who didn't have the condition.
Researchers don't have an explanation yet, and women without this calcification still face cardiovascular risks, but breast arterial calcification may prove to be another indicator of poor cardiovascular health and add another benefit to routine mammograms.
Body of Knowledge
The average person uses 57 sheets of toilet paper daily (8.6 per trip to the bathroom) or nearly 21,000 sheets (100 rolls) per year.
Get Me That, Stat!
In a survey of primary health care in 11 wealthy countries, the United States fared poorly in access, coordination of care and continuing relationships with providers.
The Commonwealth Fund found that Americans were least likely to have a primary care physician, a place of care or a long-standing relationship with a health care provider.
U.S. primary care physicians were most likely to ask patients about their social services needs, such as housing, food security and transportation. That's a good thing -- but survey authors said it probably just reflected the greater hardships of a weaker safety net.
Mark Your Calendar
May is awareness month for arthritis, hepatitis, lupus, asthma and allergies, celiac disease, mental health, high blood pressure, preeclampsia and cystic fibrosis. It's also National Nurses Month, and they will be busy treating these and many other conditions.
1,499: Documented cases of pandemic-related harassment experienced by public health officials from March 2020 to January 2021 in the U.S.
222: Number of public health officials who quit their jobs
Source: American Journal of Public Health
Asystole: Not a word you want to hear, especially since it might be your last. Colloquially referred to as flatlining, it is the cessation of electrical and mechanical activity of the heart.
Phobia of the Week
Aichmophobia: fear of sharp or pointed objects, such as a knife or needle
Food for Thought
Lanolin is an oily secretion found in sheep's wool, but it's also used as a softening additive in chewing gum.
Q: What do you call a physician who fixes websites?
A: A URL-ologist (They're especially helpful if a site has problems with streaming video.)
"I get my exercise acting as a pallbearer to my friends who exercise." -- American politician Chauncey Depew (1834-1928)
This week in 1968, Denton Cooley of the Texas Heart Institute performed the first successful heart transplant in the United States on Everett Thomas, 47, whose heart was damaged from rheumatic heart disease. Thomas survived 204 days with a heart donated from a 15-year-old girl. One year later, Cooley became the first heart surgeon to implant an artificial heart in a man.
Ig Nobel Apprised
The Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate achievements that make people laugh, then think. A look at real science that's hard to take seriously, and even harder to ignore.
In 2021, the Ig Nobel Prize in psychology went to Miranda Giacomin and Nicholas Rule for devising a method to identify narcissists by examining their eyebrows. Apparently the more grandiose the eyebrows, the more grandiose the personality.
John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943) spent his life inventing new ways to improve human health and vitality -- at least in his opinion. His eponymous corn flakes were designed to be part of a bland diet that, he believed, would curb nasty habits like masturbation.
Corn flakes have endured, but some of Kellogg's other inventions have not:
No. 1: Electric horse. Imagine a saddle atop a barrel-shaped stationary device that bucks up and down. It was intended to replicate the exercise involved in horseback riding. Kellogg also invented a mechanical "camel" with a sideways motion.
No. 2: Poop chair. Kellogg was big on the benefits of colonic irrigation. The poop chair was an adjunct idea. It looked like an ordinary dining room table chair, but vibrated, with the idea being that all that shaking would help jostle a subsequent bowel movement.
No. 3: Protose. Before there was the "Impossible Burger" and other plant-based "meats," there was Kellogg's Protose "vegetable meat," which appears to have been a combination of wheat gluten, cereal and peanut butter.
No. 4: Punch in the gut. Combining the brilliance of his electric horse and poop chair, Kellogg invented a device with a vibrating dumbbell designed to repeatedly punch users in the stomach, the idea being that the blows would dislodge fatty tissue.
"Dictionary." -- Last word of English linguist Joseph Wright (1855-1930), editor of the English Dialect Dictionary. Full disclosure: The actual last word in the dictionary is "zyzzyva," defined as a genus of tropical weevils native to South America.
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