Health – TechnoCodex https://technocodex.com Latest News from the World. Tue, 20 Oct 2020 17:22:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://technocodex.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/cropped-logo-transparent-32x32.png Health – TechnoCodex https://technocodex.com 32 32 Am I drinking too much? How alcohol impacts different age groups https://technocodex.com/am-i-drinking-too-much-how-alcohol-impacts-different-age-groups/ https://technocodex.com/am-i-drinking-too-much-how-alcohol-impacts-different-age-groups/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2020 17:22:12 +0000 https://technocodex.com/am-i-drinking-too-much-how-alcohol-impacts-different-age-groups/ 30-45 Your hangovers really do get worse in your 30s. Mr Briggs explained: “If you frequently found yourself binge drinking in your 20s, it is likely to catch up with you post 40. “However, depending on the regularity of your drinking, you may begin to witness its impact as early as 30.” As we get […]]]>

30-45

Your hangovers really do get worse in your 30s.

Mr Briggs explained: “If you frequently found yourself binge drinking in your 20s, it is likely to catch up with you post 40.

“However, depending on the regularity of your drinking, you may begin to witness its impact as early as 30.”

As we get older, our bodies are less able to process alcohol and heal itself.

Mr Briggs said: “Over time, the liver develops fatty tissue that hinders its ability to metabolise alcohol and process essential nutrients.

“Consequently, it is inevitable that you will experience the dreaded two-day hangover.

“The significant reduction in the body’s power to metabolise alcohol also means that you are more likely to feel the impact of the alcohol (i.e. ‘get drunk’) quicker.

“This is why many believe that as they age they evolve into more of a light-weight.”

Alcohol impairs our ability to make rational decisions by damaging the brain’s frontal cortex.

This can last several days when we drink in our late 30s and early 40s, Mr Briggs said.

He added: “Alcohol also slackens the neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for mood.

“As we age, this can lead to low feeling post drinks for several days.

“Worst case scenario, frequent binge drinking can pave the way to long term anxiety and depression.”

In our 40s, sleep is more important than ever and we feel the impact of lack of sleep more at this age.

Mr Briggs explained: “A common misconception is that alcohol tires you and therefore you oversleep. This is not true.

“Yes, alcohol is a sedative however, it stifles REM sleep, the stage in our sleep cycle that is crucial for its restorative properties.’”

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Type 2 diabetes symptoms: Insufficient emptying of the bladder is a sign https://technocodex.com/type-2-diabetes-symptoms-insufficient-emptying-of-the-bladder-is-a-sign/ https://technocodex.com/type-2-diabetes-symptoms-insufficient-emptying-of-the-bladder-is-a-sign/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2020 17:00:09 +0000 https://technocodex.com/type-2-diabetes-symptoms-insufficient-emptying-of-the-bladder-is-a-sign/ Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition whereby the threat of high blood sugar is constantly present. Blood sugar is the main type of sugar found in blood; it nourishes the body in important ways. High blood sugar levels can inflict damage on the nerves and blood vessels, however. Unfortunately, if you have type 2 […]]]>

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition whereby the threat of high blood sugar is constantly present. Blood sugar is the main type of sugar found in blood; it nourishes the body in important ways. High blood sugar levels can inflict damage on the nerves and blood vessels, however.

Unfortunately, if you have type 2 diabetes then the one check you have on blood sugar is out of action – the pancreas.

The pancreas is an organ responsible for secreting insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of blood sugar in the blood.

With the pancreas effectively out of action, high blood sugar levels have free rein to bulldoze through the body.

The damage inflicted by high blood sugar levels can produce noticeable warning signs and these signs can alert you to untreated type 2 diabetes.

READ MORE: Type 2 diabetes: The best type of tea to drink to lower your risk of the condition

Other signs include:

  • Bacteria developing in the bladder
  • Loss of bladder control – urinary incontinence.

How should I respond?

It is vital to bring blood sugar levels under control to reduce the risk of incurring permanent damage.

A healthy diet and keeping active will help you manage your blood sugar level.

As the NHS points out, making these healthy lifestyle changes will also help you control your weight and generally feel better.

It shows how quickly each food affects your blood sugar (glucose) level when that food is eaten on its own.

In addition to overhauling your diet, increasing the amount of exercise you do each week can also help to stabilise blood sugar.

According to the NHS, you should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week to manage blood sugar levels.

“You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath,” adds the health body.

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COVID-19 Pandemic Takes Its Toll On Athlete Mental Health https://technocodex.com/covid-19-pandemic-takes-its-toll-on-athlete-mental-health/ https://technocodex.com/covid-19-pandemic-takes-its-toll-on-athlete-mental-health/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2020 16:49:11 +0000 https://technocodex.com/covid-19-pandemic-takes-its-toll-on-athlete-mental-health/ As COVID-19 began spreading around the world several months ago, sporting events from little league games to elite competitions were cancelled—and for good reason, as close contact among athletes and spectators can foster the spread of the novel coronavirus. A February soccer game in Italy, for example, helped fuel that country’s outbreak, while the U.S. […]]]>

As COVID-19 began spreading around the world several months ago, sporting events from little league games to elite competitions were cancelled—and for good reason, as close contact among athletes and spectators can foster the spread of the novel coronavirus. A February soccer game in Italy, for example, helped fuel that country’s outbreak, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week said a recreational hockey game in Tampa, Fla. in June was a dreader “superspreader” event. The pandemic also forced the postponement of what was supposed to be year’s signature international athletic gathering—the 2020 Tokyo Olympics—lest athletes carry the virus back into their home countries. While sports have since returned, with measures like bubbles and daily testing and restrictions on spectators, a potential new surge of infections during the winter again threatens events on all levels.

While COVID-19 is particularly dangerous for the elderly and other vulnerable populations, it can still kill otherwise healthy individuals, like elite athletes. Moreover, researchers are worried that COVID-19 may pose long-term risks to heart and lung health, consequences that could derail an athlete’s career.

The sports stoppage, however, came with steep costs for those who’ve dedicated their lives in pursuit of victory. According to a study released Tuesday from Stanford University and Strava, a social network of exercise enthusiasts, 22.5% of professional athletes reported feeling down or depressed on more than half of the days of the week in the period between mid-March and August of this year, while COVID-19 restrictions on athletic training and competition were in place, compared to 3.9% of athletes reporting the same struggles earlier this year before the pandemic hit. That’s an increase of 477%. Researchers also found that those surveyed—who were endurance athletes like cyclists, runners, and triathletes—were 5.9 times more likely to report feeling nervous or anxious for more than half the days of the week during the pandemic period than beforehand; they were 7.1 times more likely to report little interest in doing things.

The pandemic is also taking a mental health toll on pretty much everyone else, of course. But these numbers are startling given that exercise has been shown to help mitigate issues like depression and anxiety.

“It’s pretty obvious that people right now, given everything that’s been going on in 2020, the calamity across the board, that people are going to have mental health struggles and difficulty exercising and a lot of these symptoms,” says Dr. Megan Roche, clinical researcher at Stanford and a lead author on the study. “What was most shocking was the magnitude of that. It’s very rare, in these sorts of studies, to see things like ‘six times increase’ and ‘seven times increase’ and just to see the staggering numbers we were seeing.”

‘I was in such a rut’

While this study was limited to 131 professional endurance athletes, the data has implications across all sports. Considering that runners and cyclists still had relatively easy access to training during the shutdown—you could still go on a long run or bike ride while gyms and pools and other sports facilities were closed—the pandemic’s mental health effects could be worse for other athletes who were locked out of courts, rinks, and so on.

The pandemic is also creating financial anxiety for these pros: 71% of them reported worrying about compensation during the pandemic, and of the athletes surveyed who received compensation from sponsors, nearly half—47%—saw a reduction in paid opportunities during COVID-19 restrictions.

Read more: The coronavirus seems to spare most kids from illness. But its effect on their mental health is deepening

Rebecca Mehra, a U.S. middle distance runner who was preparing for the Olympic trials when the pandemic shut down sports, felt some relief when she saw the study results, as they showed she wasn’t the only one feeling anxious and unmotivated.

“It makes you feel more normal to know other athletes have been frustrated and having a tough time,” says Mehra, who was surveyed for the study. The cancellation of the Olympics—and of her race schedule—crushed her. “I was just in such a rut,” says Mehra. “I didn’t want to get up and go to practice. I barely felt like running.” Mehra also lost a part-time job working in the athletic department at Stanford, her alma mater.

Triathlete Pedro Gomes, an Ironman competitor, felt confused after pools near his Scottsdale, Ariz. home were shut down. “Mentally, I was definitely lost,” says Gomes, another study participant. “I just did not know how long the pool was going to be closed for. The uncertainty of not knowing when this is going to end and being completely out of my control, it was something scary.”

How athletes can bounce back

The good news: athletes like Gomes and Mehra proved resilient. Data from Strava showed that overall, athletes wound up actually increasing their physical exertion during the period of COVID-19 restrictions: they exercised for an average of 103 minutes per day during the shutdown period, compared to 92 minutes a day beforehand. They seemed acutely aware that even if the fruits of running and biking wouldn’t show up in competitions, they’d at least help their mental health. “Right now,” says Roche, “it’s all about finding magic in the mundane.”

Gomes started waking up at 2 am in Arizona to race virtually against his friends in his native Portugal on an indoor bike trainer; on Oct. 19, he finished second in his first competitive Ironman race since the pandemic.

Mehra, meanwhile, hit reset. “I was eating Nutella and ice cream whenever,” she says. After the shock of the cancellations wore off, she returned to running for the sake of running and pursued other interests; she’s now serving as a campaign manager in a city council race in Bend, Ore, where she lives. And in August, she competed in a makeshift meet at a high school track in Los Angeles. There were no screaming fans or prize money. This 800-m race could not have been farther from Mehra’s Olympic dream.

She ran a personal best.

Write to Sean Gregory at sean.gregory@time.com.

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Rural U.S. Hospitals Are On Life Support During COVID-19 https://technocodex.com/rural-u-s-hospitals-are-on-life-support-during-covid-19/ https://technocodex.com/rural-u-s-hospitals-are-on-life-support-during-covid-19/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2020 16:27:11 +0000 https://technocodex.com/rural-u-s-hospitals-are-on-life-support-during-covid-19/ When COVID-19 hit the Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert, a small rural town in Randolph County, in late March, the facility—which includes a 25-bed hospital, an adjacent nursing home and a family-medicine clinic, was quickly overwhelmed. In just a matter of days, 45 of the 62 nursing home residents tested positive. Negative residents […]]]>

When COVID-19 hit the Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center in Cuthbert, a small rural town in Randolph County, in late March, the facility—which includes a 25-bed hospital, an adjacent nursing home and a family-medicine clinic, was quickly overwhelmed. In just a matter of days, 45 of the 62 nursing home residents tested positive. Negative residents were isolated in the hospital while the severely ill patients from both the nursing home and the local community were transferred to other better-equipped facilities.

“We were trying to get the patients out as fast as possible,” says Steve Whatley, Southwest Georgia Regional’s board chairman. “It was a daily nightmare.”

The scramble was exacerbated by a dire lack of medical necessities. Employees had to diligently conserve personal protective equipment. The hospital had no ventilators. And the nursing home’s air systems had to be retrofitted to create negative-pressure rooms to contain the airborne virus particles. Making matters even worse, one of the county’s only two physicians became ill with a severe respiratory disease unrelated to the coronavirus, while the other had an unexpected surgery requiring eight weeks of recovery time. Nurse practitioners stepped up as Southwest Georgia Regional waited for backup from neighboring health care organizations. More than 30 of 200 employees stopped working out of fear or because they got sick; the state of Georgia provided six nurses and two respiratory therapists as emergency relief. Despite the heroic efforts of the center’s staff, more than a dozen nursing home residents died within eight weeks of the virus’ arrival, though it’s unclear how many were directly due to COVID-19.

The ordeal left Southwest Georgia Regional—which was already struggling to survive—in financial shambles, as costs related to the coronavirus greatly exceeded revenues. It will permanently close on Oct. 22, making it the seventh Georgia hospital to do so since 2010. After Southwest Georgia Regional closes, Randolph County will become the 55th in the state to have no hospital at all. Residents will need to drive 30 minutes west and across the state line to Eufaula, Ala. or 50 minutes east to Albany, Ga. for care.

The middle of a pandemic is a bad time for a hospital to close. Yet Southwest Georgia Regional isn’t unique. Hospitals in St. Paul, Minn., Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia have recently closed or are set to do so soon. And in rural areas of the country, where hospitals often have enough beds for just a few dozen patients, 15 facilities have shuttered this year as of Oct. 20, including 11 since March, according to the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There may be as many as 18 such closures in 2020, topping last year’s record high. The hospitals in the worst financial shape generally have one thing in common: they serve the country’s most vulnerable people, who rely on Medicare and Medicaid or who are poor and uninsured.

THE DEATH KNELL

When the pandemic struck, just about all hospitals took a financial hit. Cash-cow elective surgeries were suspended for weeks to curb viral spread. Hospitals that weren’t treating many COVID-19 patients simply ate that loss, while expenses skyrocketed at those that were, due to high demand for personal protective equipment and labor costs. A September report from hospital insights firm Kaufman Hall found that operating margins for U.S. hospitals were down 89% in the first eight months of the year, excluding federal relief funds.

Southwest Georgia Regional was on life support well before the pandemic. Coming into 2020, the 73-year-old hospital needed over $10.5 million for structural improvements, including a new roof, asbestos abatement and an upgraded HVAC system. It also needed new medical equipment and a surgeon to replace one who was retiring. Such investments were a pipedream for the facility, which hasn’t been profitable in many years. COVID-19 was simply the “death knell,” says Whatley. “That pushed us over the cliff.”

The hospital’s fall into disrepair is in large part a failure of the U.S. medical payer system. Health care facilities are compensated by insurers based on a patient’s coverage status. They can command rates from private insurers that are twice as high on average as Medicare, according to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“If a hospital is efficient, it can make money on Medicare, but it usually breaks even,” says Nancy Kane, adjunct professor in the department of health policy and management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The secret to financial success is having privately insured people.”

Large hospital systems, including the country’s most renowned clinics and university hospitals, have so many privately insured patients that they can more than subsidize their Medicare and Medicaid patients. Those profits are then reinvested to expand clinical services, which, in turn, attract even more privately-insured patients. Nearly all publicly traded hospitals tracked by the news outlet Axios posted a net profit in their most recent quarter.

But in Southwest Georgia Regional’s Randolph County, about one in three residents live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with a median household income of $31,000. Many don’t even have government coverage, leading to years upon years of care that goes unpaid for. The hospital had to cut costs as much as possible just to keep the lights on. About 15 years ago, the facility stopped delivering babies and it gradually reduced surgeries to a small offering of procedures, such as hernia treatments and tonsillectomies. Over time, Southwest Georgia Regional was left in the dust. It simply didn’t have the means to invest in the technology and personnel to be competitive. And people in the community with the means to seek treatment elsewhere wouldn’t consider going to the aging facility, contributing to its downward spiral.

THE RURAL PROBLEM

More than 20% of rural hospitals in the U.S. like Southwest Georgia Regional are at high risk of closing, according to a 2019 study from consulting firm Navigant, now a part of Guidehouse. In some states, like Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, it’s more than 40%. At the same time, the analysis found that nearly two-thirds of the country’s at-risk hospitals are essential to their communities.

Hospital consolidations and closures are not always a bad thing, says Kane. Fewer hospitals are needed as surgical procedures become less invasive, and behavior changes (like people giving up smoking) reduce demand for acute medical interventions. She sees opportunity in replacing underutilized hospitals with telehealth and community wellness programs that help to keep people from going to the hospital in the first place. “If the hospital is 10% occupied, then it’s not serving the community,” she says.

In cities, there’s a good chance that other nearby hospitals can absorb a closed hospital’s patients, or that new health care centers will emerge. But when a rural hospital disappears, it doesn’t always lead to something better. There were 39 urban hospital closures in 2018 and 2019, offset by 22 openings. Outside urban areas, there were 30 closures and just a single opening over the same period, according to a March report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, a nonpartisan congressional agency.

The rate of rural hospital closures is accelerating in part due to rapidly declining patient volumes. Nearly two-thirds of rural counties experienced population declines between 2010 and 2019, according to a Pew analysis of U.S. Census data. Meanwhile, rural residents with some financial means and reliable transportation will often pass over their local hospital, opting to travel to the nearest city for non-urgent medical procedures. Because it’s often the poorest and least mobile residents who rely on their local hospital for care, they will be the ones most adversely impacted when their local hospitals shut down. If these trends continue, the consequences could be serious. One analysis from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that rural hospital closures increase inpatient mortality by 8.7% for time-sensitive conditions such as stroke, asthma and heart attacks, while urban closures have no measurable impact.

“When a hospital closes, you notice when an emergency department was needed—a child choking, a heart attack, a motor vehicle accident. Those are immediate effects,” says Mark Holmes, director at the Sheps Center at UNC. “But the role of the hospital is to address the health of the community. Access problems in rural America leads to everything from later stage cancer to low birth weight.”

The exterior of Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center

Courtesy Steve Whatley

The hospital at the Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center is considered “critical access,” a designation usually reserved for facilities offering 24/7 emergency care that have 25 beds or fewer and are at least 35 miles from another hospital. It has often been used as a place to stabilize patients before sending them to other facilities. Going forward, it may not just be cardiac arrest and car-accident patients who won’t get that critical interim care, but potentially another wave of COVID-19 victims. More than a third of Randolph County residents are considered obese, while one in five smoke—both of which make people more vulnerable to the coronavirus. Rural Americans more broadly tend to be older and sicker than their urban counterparts. That’s an unsettling thought, given that this virus tends to be deadlier for the most vulnerable among us. Moreover, COVID-19 has recently been working its way into rural states like Nebraska and Montana with devastating effect.

THE LIFEBOAT

Several federal stimulus packages have been made available to hospitals since early in the pandemic. The CARES Act set aside $175 billion for hospitals, physicians, pharmacies and medical clinics hit with financial stresses. Hospitals have received $70 billion of the $124 billion disbursed, according to an October analysis from the American Hospital Association. These funds do not need to be repaid. Furthermore, the Department of Health and Human Services in March expanded its Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) program, which has allocated $85 billion in hospital loans thus far. However, these funds need to be paid back.

Hospital administrators and industry analysts have widely praised the relief funds. The Randolph County hospital authority, for example, received $4.1 million in CARES Act money that allowed the Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center to install negative air pressure rooms, boost staffing and buy protective equipment while covering lost revenues.

The number of COVID-19 patients recovered and discharged is tracked on a whiteboard on the fifth floor of the soon-to-be-closed Bethesda Hospital on May 7 in St. Paul

The number of COVID-19 patients recovered and discharged is tracked on a whiteboard on the fifth floor of the soon-to-be-closed Bethesda Hospital on May 7 in St. Paul

David Joles—Star Tribune/AP

As it stands, hospitals that took AAP dollars will have to repay them. That may not be a problem for larger hospital systems that had cash on hand prior to the pandemic and have recently seen ER visits and outpatient surgeries tick back up. But for hospitals running on razor margins, repayment could prove challenging, if not impossible. The American Hospital Association has asked for loan forgiveness, but so far Congress has only delayed the start of the repayment period to next year. The money “offered rural hospitals that were adrift in financial distress a lifeboat, which has been running out of air,” says Holmes, who notes there were no rural hospital closures in May and June. “The question is, now what?”

Some hospital associations are calling on state lawmakers to help, in part by expanding Medicaid. An August 2018 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that rural hospitals in states that had increased Medicaid eligibility under the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) saw fewer closures than those that didn’t. While Medicaid payments don’t always fully cover costs, a growing body of research indicates that it reduces the debts associated with uncompensated care.

Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama are among a dozen states that have not expanded Medicaid, despite having the highest percentage of financially at-risk hospitals among all states with five or more rural hospitals. The reluctance largely stems from the ACA’s unpopularity among Republicans. To make the idea more palatable, the Mississippi Hospital Association has proposed an ACA-style expansion plan like the one passed in Indiana under then-governor Mike Pence, who’s now the vice president. Still, the topic remains politically fraught.

Some hospital administrators have tried to take survival into their own hands by becoming part of a larger hospital system or, more unusually, joining forces with regional competitors. In Mississippi, for instance, Magee General Hospital—a 44-bed facility in Magee, Miss. that was in its 19th month of chapter 11 bankruptcy when the coronavirus hit—had partnered in April 2019 with nearby Covington County Hospital. The efficiency-boosting move helped Magee emerge from bankruptcy in late May.

“It was an opportunity to grow,” says Gregg Gibbes, who now serves as CEO of both hospitals, plus another that joined the partnership in July. But he cautions that smarter business practices can only go so far if the pandemic worsens. “Financially, we’re still in a state of uncertainty,” he says. “If elective procedures are shut down in the future, that will certainly have some far-reaching effect. It could cripple us permanently if we have to do that again.”

Indeed, collaboration is no guarantee of survival. Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center has been managed by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, a more financially stable hospital about 50 minutes away since 1996. Southwest Georgia Regional paid only $5,000 a year for the arrangement and it reaped benefits including no-interest loans from Phoebe. At the height of the coronavirus surge, Phoebe provided critical resources to maintain staff levels, and even shut down its own hospice center to send staffers to Southwest Georgia Regional. “It was unbelievable the job that the staff and the administration did,” says Whatley. “Our success was because of them.”

And yet, it wasn’t enough to save the hospital at the Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to imagine any intervention that could. “Eventually, you got to reinvest and have capital and we didn’t have the luxury,” says Whatley. “It’s a sad day for our county.”

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How an Ill-Fated Fishing Voyage Helped Us Understand Covid-19 https://technocodex.com/how-an-ill-fated-fishing-voyage-helped-us-understand-covid-19/ https://technocodex.com/how-an-ill-fated-fishing-voyage-helped-us-understand-covid-19/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2020 16:16:15 +0000 https://technocodex.com/how-an-ill-fated-fishing-voyage-helped-us-understand-covid-19/ The threat posed by the virus, though, has made randomized trials extremely difficult to do. While researchers have randomly assigned macaque monkeys to receive either a vaccine or a placebo and then exposed them to the virus (those with vaccine-produced antibodies were less likely to become infected), it would be unethical to perform this experiment […]]]>

The threat posed by the virus, though, has made randomized trials extremely difficult to do. While researchers have randomly assigned macaque monkeys to receive either a vaccine or a placebo and then exposed them to the virus (those with vaccine-produced antibodies were less likely to become infected), it would be unethical to perform this experiment on humans, given the risk of severe illness and death. Instead, vaccine trials are enrolling thousands of people, randomly giving them a vaccine or a placebo and waiting months until, in the normal course of their lives, a small percentage of them become infected; at that point, they’ll learn which group they were in. This process is much less efficient and provides less detailed information about the circumstances and biology of each infection than an experiment in which participants are closely monitored in a controlled setting.

That makes cases like the Dynasty’s, where a high percentage of people under fairly uniform conditions were infected with the virus while others weren’t, potentially very useful. Testing during an outbreak that infected some 700 people on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in February helped reveal that many infections never produced noticeable symptoms. “We’re trying to learn with limited evidence,” says Emily Oster, an economist at Brown University. “Digging into, What are the particular details of an incident that we can learn from? I think there’s a lot of value there.”

Such digging can help generate hypotheses. The classic example is the study by John Snow, an English physician, of a cholera outbreak in London in 1854. Plotting cases of the disease on a map and interviewing residents — “It’s like the original contact tracing,” Oster says — Snow began to suspect that a pump, where many of those getting sick got their water, was the culprit. But Snow had also tested his theory, that cholera was waterborne, by getting maps of households that were (randomly) served by one of two rival water companies, with different water sources, and noting which of them experienced cholera deaths. When the death rate for one company proved much higher than the other, it was clear that its water was the cause. (Sewage contamination was to blame.)

Such “natural experiments,” in which some event or factor has randomized participants into experimental and control groups, have been especially hard to find during the pandemic. The urgent need to stop the spread of the virus has led policymakers to change many variables at once — school and business closures and reopenings, mask ordinances. This makes it difficult to separate their effects. To find out if closing schools lowered community infection rates early in the outbreak, for example, you might look at demographically similar areas where schools closed either in mid-March or early April and compare their infection rates in early May. “But the places that have been hit the hardest might be the ones that are pulling the trigger earlier,” says Joseph Doyle, an economist at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management — which can make it seem that closing schools leads to high infection rates, when actually an anticipated rise in infections caused the schools to close. Randomizing them would mean finding ones that closed for reasons “unrelated to anything about the health of the community,” Doyle says. For instance, several schools in Tennessee were hit by tornadoes in March and shuttered early, while neighboring ones stayed open. Comparing their community infection rates weeks later could approximate a randomized trial — if the storms didn’t meaningfully affect other local interactions.

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Coronavirus UK: Symptoms include loss of taste and smell https://technocodex.com/coronavirus-uk-symptoms-include-loss-of-taste-and-smell/ https://technocodex.com/coronavirus-uk-symptoms-include-loss-of-taste-and-smell/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2020 15:32:20 +0000 https://technocodex.com/coronavirus-uk-symptoms-include-loss-of-taste-and-smell/ Coronavirus continues to tear at the fabric of British society, with the caseload rising in different regions. The result has been increased tension between Downing Street and regional governments as both parties battle it out over the imposition of localised lockdowns. Ordinary citizens are seemingly caught in the cross-hairs of all this chaos, trying to […]]]>

Coronavirus continues to tear at the fabric of British society, with the caseload rising in different regions. The result has been increased tension between Downing Street and regional governments as both parties battle it out over the imposition of localised lockdowns. Ordinary citizens are seemingly caught in the cross-hairs of all this chaos, trying to get on with their lives while remaining safe.

She said: “I love nice meals, going out to restaurants, having a drink with friends but now all that has gone.

“Meat tastes like petrol and prosecco tastes like rotting apples. If my partner, Craig, has a curry the smell is awful.

“It even comes out of his pores so I struggle to go anywhere near him.”

Another COVID-19 patient told the BBC earlier this month: “Everything that had really strong flavours, I couldn’t taste. I was mostly eating Jamaican food and I couldn’t taste it at all, everything tasted like paper or cardboard.”

The prevalence of COVID-19-induced loss of smell and taste has been indicated in a number of studies.

One recent study conducted by Northwestern Medicine observed a loss of taste in nearly 16 percent of patients while a loss of smell was observed in 11 percent of patients.

The study involved 509 patients whose coronavirus symptoms were so severe as to require hospitalisation.

How should I respond to this symptom?

According to the NHS, if you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), get a test as soon as possible.

“Stay at home and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test,” advises the health body.

As it explains, anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also stay at home until you get your result.

A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.

Other main symptoms include:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).

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N.Y. Accuses Religious Health Cost-Sharing Group of Misleading Consumers https://technocodex.com/n-y-accuses-religious-health-cost-sharing-group-of-misleading-consumers/ https://technocodex.com/n-y-accuses-religious-health-cost-sharing-group-of-misleading-consumers/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2020 13:42:13 +0000 https://technocodex.com/n-y-accuses-religious-health-cost-sharing-group-of-misleading-consumers/ The ministry plans may seem even more attractive under a new rule proposed by the Trump administration that would give tax advantages to people buying coverage in a health care sharing ministry, said JoAnn Volk, a research professor at Georgetown University. If the rule is finalized, people may become even more confused about whether this […]]]>

The ministry plans may seem even more attractive under a new rule proposed by the Trump administration that would give tax advantages to people buying coverage in a health care sharing ministry, said JoAnn Volk, a research professor at Georgetown University.

If the rule is finalized, people may become even more confused about whether this coverage amounts to real insurance, she said. “This could potentially exacerbate the problems we had before,” she said.

Matt Lesser, a state senator in Connecticut, said in a warning issued earlier this month by the insurance department: “I’ve personally heard from constituents who have paid for products they believed were health insurance. These reports are alarming — and consumers should be on the lookout. Many of these products claim to be ‘Health Care Sharing Ministries’ which are not insurance and may not cover needed medical care.”

Trinity and Aliera face lawsuits from consumers in four states who say they have been misled. Jay Angoff, a former federal health official and state insurance regulator who is one of the lawyers representing them, says the complaints are widespread. “We’re getting unsolicited calls from people who are saying Aliera hasn’t paid their claims in other states,” he said.

By one estimate, more than 1.5 million Americans have joined Christian groups in which they agree to share medical expenses with other members. People are attracted by prices that are far lower than the cost of traditional insurance that carries strict requirements set by the Affordable Care Act, like guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The Christian groups can offer low rates because they are not classified as insurance, and are under no legal obligation to pay medical claims. Some people have paid hundreds of dollars a month, and then have been left with hundreds of thousands in unpaid medical bills in several states where the ministries, which are not subject to regulation as insurers, failed to follow through on pooling members’ expenses.

Aliera, which is based in Georgia, was the subject of an investigation by The Houston Chronicle. The Texas attorney general sued Aliera to stop it from offering “unregulated insurance products to the public.”

An administrative hearing for the New York case is scheduled for February.

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COVID-19 UK – baby shampoos and mouthwashes could help protect against the virus https://technocodex.com/covid-19-uk-baby-shampoos-and-mouthwashes-could-help-protect-against-the-virus/ https://technocodex.com/covid-19-uk-baby-shampoos-and-mouthwashes-could-help-protect-against-the-virus/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:36:09 +0000 https://technocodex.com/covid-19-uk-baby-shampoos-and-mouthwashes-could-help-protect-against-the-virus/ Study lead Professor Craig Meyers said: “While we wait for a vaccine to be developed, methods to reduce transmission are needed. The products we tested are readily available and often already part of people’s daily routines.” As part of the study, researchers tested several everyday protects, including a 1 percent solution of baby shampoo, peroxide […]]]>

Study lead Professor Craig Meyers said: “While we wait for a vaccine to be developed, methods to reduce transmission are needed. The products we tested are readily available and often already part of people’s daily routines.”

As part of the study, researchers tested several everyday protects, including a 1 percent solution of baby shampoo, peroxide sore-mouth cleansers and mouthwashes.

Each product was allowed to interact with the virus for 30 seconds, one minute and two minutes, before being diluted.

The results showed the 1 percent baby shampoo solution, which is often used to rinse sinuses, inactivated more than 99.9 percent of the virus after two minutes.

READ MORE: New coronavirus symptom reported in UK – how you should respond

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Think You Have ‘Normal’ Blood Pressure? Think Again https://technocodex.com/think-you-have-normal-blood-pressure-think-again/ https://technocodex.com/think-you-have-normal-blood-pressure-think-again/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2020 11:41:11 +0000 https://technocodex.com/think-you-have-normal-blood-pressure-think-again/ The study, directed by Dr. Seamus P. Whelton, cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Baltimore, followed a cohort of 1,457 middle-aged men and women initially free of atherosclerotic vascular disease and known risk factors for 14.5 years. As the participants aged, their risk factors for […]]]>

The study, directed by Dr. Seamus P. Whelton, cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Baltimore, followed a cohort of 1,457 middle-aged men and women initially free of atherosclerotic vascular disease and known risk factors for 14.5 years. As the participants aged, their risk factors for heart disease increased, along with calcium deposits in their coronary arteries and cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes.

The research team focused on increases in systolic blood pressure with age, adjusting the data for changes in other heart risks. They found that for every 10 mm increase in systolic blood pressure, the risk of calcium deposits and cardiovascular events rose accordingly. Compared with people with systolic pressures of 90 to 99 mm, those with pressures of 120 to 129 mm were 4.58 times more likely to have experienced a cardiovascular event.

Still, Dr. Whelton said in an interview that it would be wrong to focus preventive strategies on blood pressure alone. People with high blood pressure, he said, “are also more likely to have higher cholesterol and blood glucose levels. The ideal strategy would focus on all risk factors — blood cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. Maintaining a healthful diet, exercising, not smoking and consuming alcohol only in moderation would improve all the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

Levels of what doctors consider a healthy systolic blood pressure have been falling for about half a century. In August 1950, a report in JAMA suggested that labeling systolic blood pressures of 140, 150 or 160 mm as abnormally high is “arbitrary, particularly when age is concerned.” The authors suggested that raising acceptable blood pressure levels for people over 40 “would result in a decrease in the reported incidence of hypertension and thus allay some of the widespread and unnecessary fear regarding high blood pressure.”

The latest blood pressure advisory, issued in 2017 by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, considers a systolic blood pressure of 120 mm the upper limit of normal, and defines 130 mm and above as high blood pressure that warrants treatment with lifestyle measures or medication.

In an editorial accompanying the new study, Dr. Daniel W. Jones, hypertension specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center who helped formulate the current blood pressure guidelines, wrote, “the risk imposed by a blood pressure level below the currently defined hypertensive level is continuous beginning with a systolic blood pressure as low as 90 mm mercury.”

Dr. Jones said in an interview, “Normal blood pressure can be in the 90s, which is what it is in young healthy women, before the vascular system is damaged by elevated blood pressure over the years. Prevention should start with children, with a healthy diet low in salt and regular exercise, and adults should avoid gaining weight with age, which I realize is very difficult to do in our toxic food society.”

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Recognizing Miscarriage as an Occasion for Grief https://technocodex.com/recognizing-miscarriage-as-an-occasion-for-grief/ https://technocodex.com/recognizing-miscarriage-as-an-occasion-for-grief/#respond Tue, 20 Oct 2020 11:30:07 +0000 https://technocodex.com/recognizing-miscarriage-as-an-occasion-for-grief/ There is a tendency to pathologize this grief, Dr. Hiefner said; if a 5-year-old died, no one would think it was comforting to say, “Oh well, you can have more kids, you’re still young,” but such messages are often offered to people after miscarriage and stillbirth, and they may be criticized if their grief persists. […]]]>

There is a tendency to pathologize this grief, Dr. Hiefner said; if a 5-year-old died, no one would think it was comforting to say, “Oh well, you can have more kids, you’re still young,” but such messages are often offered to people after miscarriage and stillbirth, and they may be criticized if their grief persists.

Dr. Nsoesie was the senior author on a 2019 study of discussions on Twitter of miscarriage and preterm births that traced women’s accounts of their experiences and their stories of grief, including their misgivings about insensitive treatment they felt they had received. “People would say, oh, you’re going to have another baby — clinicians, too,” she said.

Because couples who have experienced a miscarriage may be more susceptible to subsequent separation and divorce, Dr. Hiefner said, her research is now looking at what helps some stay together, “what helps them navigate it successfully as a couple.” And that includes accepting that your partner’s grief may look very different from your own. In a study of couples published earlier this year, she wrote, “the emergent themes create a picture of resilience after loss in these couples, in which the shared nature of the loss was a crucial aspect of the experience.”

Miscarriages and even stillbirths were lost or hidden losses for most of human history, perhaps in part rendered invisible by the volume of grief and anxiety that surrounded the deaths of babies who had been born alive but did not survive to grow up. Many died soon after birth, and many more in the first months of that dangerous first year of life; as recently as the early 20th century, more than 10 percent of the babies born in the United States didn’t make it to their first birthdays.

Babies’ deaths were so taken for granted in the 18th and 19th and even early 20th centuries that many biographies, especially of the fathers of those infants, pass them by in a paragraph, or even a footnote. And there was also the ever-looming specter of maternal death; many women’s obstetric histories, right up through the beginning of the 20th century, were fraught with loss and danger. Even today, maternal mortality in the United States remains up to three times higher for Black and Indigenous women than for white women.

Miscarriages do occasionally make it into biographies, but usually because they are medically dramatic and threaten the life of the mother. Mary Shelley lost a pregnancy in 1822, and her poet husband Percy Bysshe Shelley had to pack her in ice to keep her from bleeding to death. But when it comes to her emotional health and her grief, her biographers have to deal with the ramifications of losing her baby Clara, who was born premature and died at the age of 8 days, her next daughter, also named Clara, who died as an infant, and then her son William, who died at the age of 3 and a half. Of her five pregnancies, only one child, Percy Florence, lived to grow up.

Infant mortality dropped across the first half of the 20th century in the United States, and became even lower in the decades after World War II, as the baby boom got underway. But miscarriage remained a topic that was not much discussed in public, and certainly, the emotional implications of losing — and mourning — a pregnancy were almost completely ignored not just in public discourse, but also by the medical profession.

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