Tag Archives: Scientific American

Covid-19: “Superspreading Events” Responsible For Up To 80% Of Infections

From Scientific American (June 23, 2020):

Scientific AmericanIn fact, research on actual cases, as well as models of the pandemic, indicate that between 10 and 20 percent of infected people are responsible for 80 percent of the coronavirus’s spread.

Researchers have identified several factors that make it easier for superspreading to happen. Some of them are environmental.

  • Poorly ventilated indoor areas seem especially conducive to the virus’s spread – A preliminary analysis of 110 COVID-19 cases in Japan found that the odds of transmitting the pathogen in a closed environment was more than 18 times greater than in an open-air space.
  • Places where large numbers of people congregate – As a group’s size increases, so does the risk of transmitting the virus to a wider cluster. A large group size also increases the chance that someone present will be infectious.
  • The longer a group stays in contact, the greater the likelihood that the virus will spread among them – The benchmark used for risk assessment in her contact-tracing work is 10 minutes of contact with an infectious person, though the CDC uses 15 minutes as a guideline.
  • Some activities seem to make it easier to spread respiratory gunk – Speech emits more particles than normal breathing. And emissions also increase as people speak louder. Singing emits even more particles, which may partially explain the superspreader event at the Washington State choir practice. Breathing hard during exercise might also help the spread of COVID-19.

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Podcast Interviews: “Exercise Is Medicine” Author Judy Foreman

Science Talk logoHealth journalist Judy Foreman talks about her new book Exercise Is Medicine: How Physical Activity Boosts Health and Slows Aging

downloadThis is Scientific American’s Science Talk, posted on April 24th, 2020. I’m Steve Mirsky. And under our current, often locked-down situation, it’s still really important to try to get some exercise. Judy Foreman is the author of the new book Exercise is Medicine: How Physical Activity Boosts Health and Slows Aging. She’s a former nationally syndicated health columnist for the Boston Globe, LA times, Baltimore Sun and other places, and an author for the Oxford University Press.

Judy Foreman is the author of “A Nation in Pain” (2014), “The Global Pain Crisis” (2017), and “Exercise is Medicine,” (2020), all published by Oxford University Press, and was a staff writer at The Boston Globe for 22 years and the health columnist for many of these years. Her column was syndicated in national and international outlets including the Los Angeles TimesDallas Morning NewsBaltimore Sun and others.

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College and has a Master’s from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She was a Lecturer on Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School and a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She spent six months as a guest reporter for The Times of London. She was also a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. She was also host of a live, weekly call-in radio show on Healthtalk.com.

Judy has won more than 50 journalism awards, including a 1998 George Foster Peabody award for co-writing a video documentary about a young woman dying of breast cancer and the 2015 Science in Society award from the National Association of Science Writers.

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Health Infographics: How Exercise Creates “New Neurons In Aging Brains”

New Neurons in Aging Brains Scientific American January 2020 Tami Tolpa

Scientific American logo

Researchers have also documented clear links between aerobic exercise and benefits to other parts of the brain, including expansion of the prefrontal cortex, which sits just behind the forehead. Such augmentation of this region has been tied to sharper executive cognitive functions, which involve aspects of planning, decision-making and multitasking—abilities that, like memory, tend to decline with healthy aging and are further degraded in the presence of Alzheimer’s. Scientists suspect that increased connections between existing neurons, rather than the birth of new neurons, are responsible for the beneficial effects of exercise on the prefrontal cortex and other brain regions outside the hippocampus.

Scientific American article

Health Studies: “Why Your Brain Needs Exercise” (Scientific American)

From a Scientic American online article:

Scientific American logoIn our own study of more than 7,000 middle-aged to older adults in the U.K., published in 2019 in Brain Imaging and Behavior, we demonstrated that people who spent more time engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity had larger hippocampal volumes. Although it is not yet possible to say whether these effects in humans are related to neurogenesis or other forms of brain plasticity, such as increasing connections among existing neurons, together the results clearly indicate that exercise can benefit the brain’s hippocampus and its cognitive functions.

New Neurons in Aging Brains Why Your Brain Needs Exercise Scientific American December 18 2019

In fact, a growing body of research suggests that exercise that is cognitively stimulating may indeed benefit the brain more than exercise that does not make such cognitive demands. For example, Gerd Kempermann and his colleagues at the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden in Germany explored this possibility by comparing the growth and survival of new neurons in the mouse hippocampus after exercise alone or after exercise combined with access to a cognitively enriched environment. They found an additive effect: exercise alone was good for the hippocampus, but combining physical activity with cognitive demands in a stimulating environment was even better, leading to even more new neurons. Using the brain during and after exercise seemed to trigger enhanced neuron survival.

To read more: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-your-brain-needs-exercise/

Healthy Diet Podcasts: “Are Probiotics Safe for Your Immune System?” (Scientific American)

From a Scientific American online release:

Nutrition Diva Health Diet PodcastOne of the immune system’s jobs is to protect us from harmful bacterial. And the beneficial organisms that we refer to as probiotics contribute to this effort in a number of ways. In the gut, a robust population of beneficial bacteria can help crowd out harmful bacteria, making it harder for them to thrive. In addition, probiotic bacteria can influence the activity of our own immune cells, regulating inflammation, barrier function, and cell-to-cell signaling. 

One way to foster healthy intestinal bacteria is to eat more of the foods these bugs like to eat—namely, fiber.  Increasing your intake of plant fibers from vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds is like filling a bird-feeder with the kind of seeds that the beautiful songbirds you want attract like best. If you feed them, they will come!

And if we want to attract a lot of different types of songbirds—er, bacteria—then we want to put out a variety of foods. That means you don’t just want to get all your fiber from a single source, such as a fiber supplement. You want to get it fiber from lots of different kinds of vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds.

To read more: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-probiotics-safe-for-your-immune-system/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly-review&utm_content=link&utm_term=2019-11-13_top-stories&spMailingID=60991971&spUserID=MjUxMzc4MzQ1MzMyS0&spJobID=1761811419&spReportId=MTc2MTgxMTQxOQS2

 

Healthcare Update: Health-Professions Students And Workers Are “Exhausted And Sick”

From a Scientific American online article:

Scientific American - Getty ImagesHealth care is a big business, and our system reimburses hospitals and health care workers for caring for the sickest people rather than healthiest ones. This process depletes healers’ energy and often causes them to become exhausted and sick. That means all of us who work in or study to work in health care are at risk. To break this vicious cycle, we need self-scrutiny and willingness to change.

Health-professions students and workers live in chronically stressful environments—responsible for an increasingly sick population, which they are expected to repeatedly rescue from failure. To heal others, our health care professionals need healing themselves.

American medical students, physicians and nurses: There’s good news and bad news.

The bad news is that our health care system and many of its workers are sick. The good news is that we can heal them. We should waste no time in starting.

To read more: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/american-health-care-is-sick-and-its-workers-are-too/

Boomers Health Care: “Population Health” Looks Beyond The Clinic For Better Outcomes

From a Scientific American online article by Adam Myers:

Projected Federal Spending on Medicare and MedicaidI once witnessed the care of a patient who suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which blocks airflow to lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. Over the course of a particularly hot Texas summer, he was admitted to the hospital time and time again—racking up more than $60,000 in medical expenses. Doctors were treating his breathing problems repeatedly, but they did not understand why the patient continued to have trouble.

One population health–oriented physician dug a bit deeper, holding in-depth conversations about the patient in the hospital—and later, having a team member visit his home. There, it was discovered that he lived without an air conditioner. A caring individual purchased and installed a $400 air conditioner for him, and his hospital visits stopped.

To read more click on following link: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/population-health-how-we-can-cure-whats-ailing-health-care/

Medical Devices: Heartbeat-Powered Pacemaker Successfully Tested In Living Pigs

“The development of these battery-free technologies will revolutionize implantable devices,” says Ramses Martinez, a researcher in industrial and biomedical engineering at Purdue University, who was not involved in either study. “Soon traditional rigid implants will evolve into conformable systems capable of harvesting the energy they need to function from the patient.”

Scientific American Heartbeat-Powered Pacemaker

Current pacemakers have batteries that last less than 10 year and require expensive surgery to replace them. Harini Barath (Scientific American, May 28, 2019) reports that the pig’s heart generated ample energy to power a human pacemaker. Read more below:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-pacemaker-harvests-energy-from-the-heart/