Tag: Health

Can Eating Too Much Make Your Stomach Burst?

I ate so much I’m about to burst!

Someone at your Thanksgiving table likely said this, after you’ve all stuffed your faces with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and the rest.

But how much would you have to eat in order for your stomach to actually burst? Is that even possible?

Interestingly enough, you can rupture your stomach if you eat too much,” says Dr. Rachel Vreeman, co-author of “Don’t Cross Your Eyes … They’ll Get Stuck That Way!” and assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine.

It is possible, but it’s very, very rare.

A handful of reports over the years document the tales of people who literally ate themselves to death, or at least came dangerously close.

Japanese doctors wrote in a 2003 case report that they believed it was a 49-year-old man’s “excessive over-eating” that caused his stomach to rupture, killing him.




And this 1991 case report describes a similar “spontaneous rupture” in an adult’s stomach “after overindulgence in food and drink.

Normally, your stomach can hold about one or one-and-a-half liters, Vreeman says — this is the point you may reach if you overdo it tomorrow, when you feel full to the point of nausea.

Pathologists’ reports seem to suggest the stomach is able to do OK handling up to about three liters, but most cases of rupture seem to occur when a person has attempted to stuff their stomach with about five liters of food or fluid.

It takes a certain amount of misguided determination to manage to override your natural gag reflex and continue to eat.

Which is, not surprisingly, reports of ruptured stomachs caused by overeating are most common in people with some sort of disordered eating, or limited mental capacity, Vreeman says.

Speaking of strong stomachs, you’d best have one in order to read this next paragraph. If vomiting isn’t happening, all that food and fluid still has to go somewhere.

The increasing volume of stuff in the gut puts pressure on the stomach’s walls, so much so that the tissue weakens and tears, sending the stomach contents into the body and causing infection and pain, Vreeman says.

Surgical intervention is necessary to repair a ruptured stomach and save the patient’s life.

In particular, she says, anorexics or bulimics may be at risk. In fact, Cedars-Sinai, the non-profit hospital in Los Angeles, actually lists this as a “symptom” of bulimia.

In rare cases, a person may eat so much during a binge that the stomach bursts or the esophagus tears. This can be life-threatening.

Other reported cases of spontaneous stomach rupture happen in individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome, a congenital disease that is characterized by, among other things, a kind of disordered eating.

An “intense craving for food,” resulting in “uncontrollable weight gain and morbid obesity.” according to the National Institutes of Health.

In a 2007 study examining the deaths of 152 individuals with the condition, 3 percent of those deaths were the result of gastric rupture and necrosis.

The takeaway here: This really happens, sometimes! Also: This is probably not going to happen to you.

Even if you’re starting to feel a bit sick or tired and overwhelmed from eating so much at Thanksgiving, you’re still far, far away from the scenario where you’re going to make your stomach actually explode,” Vreeman assures.

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The Apple Watch Is Inching Toward Becoming A Medical Device

Apple is trying to turn its smartwatch from a niche gadget into a lifeline to better health by slowly evolving it into a medical device.

In its fourth incarnation, called the Series 4 and due out later this month, the Apple Watch will add features that allow it to take high-quality heart readings and detect falls.

It’s part of Apple’s long-in-the-making strategy to give people a distinct reason to buy a wrist gadget that largely does things smartphones already do.

Since the Apple Watch launched in April 2015 , most people haven’t figured out why they need to buy one.

Apple doesn’t release sales figures, but estimates from twoanalysts suggest the company shipped roughly 18 million of the gadgets in 2017.

Apple sold almost twelve times as many iPhones — 216 million — that year. Apple shipped another 7.3 million during the first half of this year, according to Canalys Research, compared to more than 93 million iPhones.




Worldwide, about 48 million smartwatches are expected to be sold this year compared to nearly 1.9 billion phones, according to the research firm Gartner.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has long aimed to emphasize the health- and fitness-tracking abilities of the smartwatch.

The original version featured a heart-rate sensor that fed data into fitness and workout apps so they could suggest new goals and offer digital “rewards” for fitness accomplishments.

Two years later, Apple called its watch “the ultimate device for a healthy life,” emphasizing water resistance for swimmers and built-in GPS for tracking runs or cycling workouts.

In February, the company announced that the watch would track skiing and snowboarding runs , including data on speed and vertical descent.

The latest Apple Watch version unveiled Wednesday is pushing the health envelope even further — in particular by taking electrocardiograms, or EKGs, on the device, a feature given clearance by the US Food and Drug Administration, Apple said.

The watch will also watch for irregular heartbeats and can detect when the wearer has fallen, the company said.

EKGs are important tests of heart health that typically require a doctor visit.

The feature gained an onstage endorsement from Ivor Benjamin, a cardiologist who heads the American Heart Association, who said such real-time data would change the way doctors work

This is enormous,” Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen said of the Apple Watch’s EKG feature. It could turn smartwatches “from something people buy for prestige into something they buy for more practical reasons,” he said.

It could also lead some health insurance plans to subsidize the cost of an Apple Watch, Nguyen said.

That would help defray the $400 starting price for a device that still requires a companion iPhone that can now cost more than $1,000.

The watch will use new sensors on the back and on the watch dial.

A new app will say whether each reading is normal or shows signs of atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rate that increases the risk of heart complications, such as stroke and heart failure.

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Blood Test Could Tell You What Time It Is In Your Body

Whether you’re an early bird, a night owl or a functions-best-at-midday kind of person very much has to do with slight variations in your body’s internal clock.

But if you’re unclear on what time it is inside your body, there might be a blood test one day that can tell you.

That could be important, because a “misalignment” between your body’s clock and the actual time can be harmful.

(An example of such a misalignment would be if the most accurate atomic clock says it’s 8 p.m., while the cells inside a person’s body said, no, it’s 6 p.m.)

The test could also help doctors deliver drug doses at precise times, the researchers said, though more research is needed before the test could be used clinically.

The new blood test, called TimeSignature, uses a machine-learning algorithm that’s trained to look for patterns of gene expression at different times of day.

The researchers recently filed a patent for the blood test and published the results of their study today (Sept. 10) in the journal PNAS.

The team examined 20,000 genes in the body and found that there were around 40 that showed robust gene signals connected to different times.

In other words, these 40 genes were more likely to turn on at certain times of day, based on a person’s internal clock.




For example, if a person’s body thinks it’s 6 a.m., it will express more of gene A than gene B; whereas if it thinks it is 8 a.m., perhaps it will express more of gene C and a little bit of genes A and B.

The TimeSignature test learns those patterns and can spit out an estimate of what time the body’s clock thinks it is.

The researchers tested the TimeSignature algorithm on genetic data from three separate studies that were focused on blood and also tried the test on blood samples from 11 patients.

They found that they could predict when the blood was drawn, typically within a range of 2 hours.

They also reported that once their test is trained on what levels of genes to expect, it can be universally applied to data from various patients.

n order for the test to be accurate, the patient would need to have at least two blood draws that are reasonably spaced apart in time, according to the study.

In contrast, previous tests that aimed to pinpoint the time of the internal clock required blood draws every hour over multiple hours, the researchers said.

Such a test might be able to help medical practitioners deliver drugs at times that are tailored for each individual patient.

So many drugs have optimal times for dosing,” study co-author Dr. Phyllis Zee, the chief of sleep medicine in neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine neurologist, said in a statement.

The best time for you to take the blood pressure drug or the chemotherapy or radiation may be different from somebody else.”

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To Mend A Birth Defect, Surgeons Operate On The Patient Within The Patient

A team of surgeons performs experimental surgery on a fetus with spina bifida at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. A miniature telescope and camera are inserted into the mother’s uterus, above, after it is lifted from her body.

The patient, still inside his mother’s womb, came into focus on flat screens in a darkened operating room. Fingers, toes, the soles of his feet — all exquisite, all perfectly formed.

But not so his lower back. Smooth skin gave way to an opening that should not have been there, a bare oval exposing a white rim of bone and the nerves of the spinal cord.

All right, it’s the real deal,” said Dr. Michael A. Belfort, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief of Texas Children’s Hospital.

The fetus, 24 weeks and two days old, less than two pounds, was about to have surgery. He had a severe form of spina bifida, in which the backbone and spinal cord do not develop properly.

Children born with this condition usually cannot walk, and suffer from fluid buildup in the brain, lack of bladder control and other complications.

A pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. William Whitehead, joined Dr. Belfort at the operating table. Doctors have been performing fetal surgery to repair spina bifida since the 1990s; it is not a cure, but can lessen the degree of disability.




But now Dr. Belfort and Dr. Whitehead are testing a new, experimental technique — one that some in the field are eager to learn, but that others regard warily, questioning its long-term safety for the fetus.

The surgeons had made a wide incision in the mother’s lower abdomen, gently lifted out her uterus — still attached internally — and made two tiny, 4-millimeter slits. In one, they inserted a “fetoscope,” a small telescope fitted with a camera, light and grasping tool.

The second slit was for other miniature instruments. Lit from within, the uterus glowed, red and magical in the darkened room.

Spina bifida occurs early, at three to four weeks of pregnancy, when the tissue forming the spinal column should fold into a tube but does not close properly. There are 1,500 to 2,000 cases a year in the United States.

The causes are not fully understood, but in some cases a deficiency in the B-vitamin folic acid plays a role, which is why supplements are recommended for pregnant women and the vitamin is added to grain and cereal products.

Joshuwa and Lexi Royer the night before an experimental surgery intended to help correct their child’s spina bifida.

Introducing prenatal surgery for spina bifida was a bold step. In the early days, doctors were so worried about risk that they operated only for conditions that would be fatal if left unrepaired; if the surgery did harm, it would be to a fetus that would have died anyway.

Spina bifida is generally not fatal, so the standard practice was to operate after birth. But the results of postnatal surgery were mixed: most children could not walk and had other problems.

Doctors began to suspect that outcomes might be better if they could fix the defect before birth.

Some of the spinal damage is caused by amniotic fluid, which turns increasingly toxic to the exposed nerve tissue as the pregnancy progresses and the fetus passes more and more wastes into the fluid.

Surgeons thought that if the opening could be closed before birth, sealing out the fluid, some of the nerve damage might be averted. They began operating in the 1990s, but it was not clear the surgery was helping.

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The Deadly Combination Of Heat And Humidity

The most deadly weather-related disasters aren’t necessarily caused by floods, droughts or hurricanes. They can be caused by heat waves, like the sweltering blanket that’s taken over 2,500 lives in India in recent weeks.

Temperatures broke 118 degrees in parts of the country. The death toll is still being tallied, and many heat-related deaths will be recognized only after the fact.

Yet it’s already the deadliest heat wave to hit India since at least 1998 and, by some accounts, the fourth- or fifth-deadliest worldwide since 1900.

These heat waves will only become more common as the planet continues to warm.

They don’t just affect tropical, developing countries; they’re a threat throughout the world. The July 1995 heat wave in the Midwest caused over 700 deaths in Chicago.

The August 2003 heat wave in western Europe led to about 45,000 deaths. The July-August 2010 heat wave in western Russia killed about 54,000 people.

But as anyone who’s spent a summer in the eastern United States knows, it’s not just the heat; it’s also the humidity. Together, they can be lethal, even if the heat doesn’t seem quite so extreme.




Scientists measure the combination using a metric known as wet-bulb temperature. It’s called that because it can be measured with a thermometer wrapped in a wet cloth, distinguishing it from the commonly reported dry-bulb temperature, measured in open air.

Wet-bulb temperature can also be calculated from relative humidity, surface pressure and air temperature.

But this fate is not yet locked in. Moderate reductions in emissions of heat-trapping gases sufficient to stop global emissions growth by 2040 and bring emissions down to half their current levels by the 2070s.

This can avoid those paralyzing extremes and limit the expected late-century experience of the average American to about 18 dangerously humid days a year.

And strong reductions — bringing global emissions to zero by the 2080s — can cap the growth of humidity extremes by the midcentury.

Climate change is increasing the risks to our health, our economy and our environment.

Communities need to prepare. But as world leaders get ready for the United Nations climate change conference in Paris this December, it’s also important to recognize that shifting to carbon-free energy will reduce the risks we will face from extreme heat and humidity.

As India’s tragic heat wave shows, these risks cannot be ignored.

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Just Another Day on Aerosol Earth

Take a deep breath. Even if the air looks clear, it is nearly certain that you will inhale millions of solid particles and liquid droplets.

These ubiquitous specks of matter are known as aerosols, and they can be found in the air over oceans, deserts, mountains, forests, ice, and every ecosystem in between.

If you have ever watched smoke billowing from a wildfire, ash erupting from a volcano, or dust blowing in the wind, you have seen aerosols.

Satellites like Terra, Aqua, Aura, and Suomi NPP “see” them as well, though they offer a completely different perspective from hundreds of kilometers above Earth’s surface.

A version of a NASA model called the Goddard Earth Observing System Forward Processing (GEOS FP) offers a similarly expansive view of the mishmash of particles that dance and swirl through the atmosphere.

The visualization above highlights GEOS FP model output for aerosols on August 23, 2018.




On that day, huge plumes of smoke drifted over North America and Africa, three different tropical cyclones churned in the Pacific Ocean, and large clouds of dust blew over deserts in Africa and Asia.

The storms are visible within giant swirls of sea salt aerosol (blue), which winds loft into the air as part of sea spray.

Black carbon particles (red) are among the particles emitted by fires; vehicle and factory emissions are another common source.

Particles the model classified as dust are shown in purple. The visualization includes a layer of night light data collected by the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP that shows the locations of towns and cities.

Note: the aerosol in the visualization is not a direct representation of satellite data.

The GEOS FP model, like all weather and climate models, used mathematical equations that represent physical processes to calculate what was happening in the atmosphere on August 23.

Measurements of physical properties, like temperature, moisture, aerosols, and winds, are routinely folded into the model to better simulate real-world conditions.

Some of the events that appear in the visualization were causing pretty serious problems on the ground.

Last August 23, Hawaiians braced for torrential rains and potentially serious floods and mudslides as Hurricane Lane approached.

Meanwhile, twin tropical cyclones—Soulik and Cimaron—were on the verge of lashing South Korea and Japan.

The smoke plume over central Africa is a seasonal occurrence and mainly the product of farmers lighting numerous small fires to maintain crop and grazing lands.

Most of the smoke over North America came from large wildfires burning in Canada and the United States.

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Scientists Discover A New Type Of Brain Cell In Humans

An international team of 34 scientists has identified a new type of brain cell in humans not found in other well-studied species.

The discovery of “Rosehip” neurons, published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience, raises a number of questions: How does it influence human behavior and experience?

How does it differentiate us from other species? Can it be found in primates and other cognitively advanced species?

But there is one issue this discovery highlights immediately: there’s a neuron in human brains that is missing from the brains of mice and other animals used to model human brains in experiments.

Does this mean current animal models yield distorted results? “If we want to understand how the human brain works, we need to study humans or closely related species,” says Trygve Bakken, co-author of the paper and a neuroscientist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science.




The flow of info

Rosehip neurons are inhibitory neurons that form synapses with pyramidal neurons, the primary excitatory neurons in the prefrontal cortex.

We all have inhibitory neurons and excitatory neurons,” says Bakken, “but this particular type of inhibitory neuron is what’s new in this study. It’s special based on its shape and its connections and also the genes that it expresses.

When a traffic signal turns red it helps controls the flow of traffic. Similarly, inhibitory neurons help control the flow of electrochemical information.

The type of information rosehip neurons control, and why they appear particular to humans, is yet to be discovered. “It has these really discrete connections with [pyramidal] neurons,” says Bakken.

It has the potential to sort of manipulate the circuit in a really targeted way, but how that influences behavior will have to come in later work.”

Found in the neocortex of human brains

The researchers identified rosehip neurons by looking at brain samples from two males who died in their 50’s and donated their bodies to science.

The brain slabs were tissue from the neocortex, a most recent evolutionary development inside our skulls responsible for higher-order thinking.

The neocortex, the outermost layer of cells, is greatly expanded in humans–about a thousandfold compared to mice,” says Bakken.

From neurological studies, if you have a stroke in your neocortex for example, it really impacts your ability to do these sorts of high-order cognitive processing.

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Awesome 5 Things Living On, In, And With You

Computer artwork of bacteria (blue and green) on human skin.

Your body isn’t just yours. It’s home to millions of other life-forms. Organisms too small to see with just your eyes, called microbes, outnumber your human cells ten to one.

But don’t worry—most of them are harmless or even helpful. But that doesn’t mean they’re not gross.




Eyelash Inmate

Tiny eight-legged mites spend their whole lives on your face, spending most of their time at the base of your eyelash hairs. But at night they scurry around on your face.

Belly Button Biodiversity

Most people have about 67 different species living harmlessly in their navels. One man hosted a type of bacteria found only in Japan—even though he’d never been there.

Gut Germs

At least 500 species of bacteria live in your large intestine. They help break down food and even create nutrients like vitamin K. Lunch really is a team effort.

Morning Breath Makers

Morning breath? Blame bacteria. While you sleep bacteria builds up in your mouth. These guys munch on leftover food between your teeth, then secrete a smelly compound.

Foot Fungus

Watch your step! These microbes attach to your feet in places like locker room showers. They can make your feet itchy and painful but are easy to get rid of.

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Gut Bacteria Enzyme Can Transform a Blood Cell’s Type

The key to changing blood types may be in the gut.

Enzymes made by bacteria in the human digestive tract can strip the sugars that determine blood type from the surface of red blood cells in the lab, a new study finds.

That’s important, because those sugars, or antigens, can cause devastating immune reactions if introduced into the body of someone without that particular blood type.

A few enzymes discovered in the past can change type B blood to type O, but the newly discovered group of enzymes are the first to effectively change type A to type O.

That’s always been the biggest challenge,” lead study author Stephen Withers, a biochemist at the University of British Columbia, told reporters today (Aug. 21) at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Boston.

Researchers have tested enzyme-altered blood before, including in a small study in humans published in the journal Transfusion in 2000.




In that study, people received transfusions of either type O blood or enzyme-altered blood.

But that particular enzyme, which could convert only type B blood, was too expensive and inefficient for real-world use, said a 2008 review in the British Journal of Haematology.

A challenge in altering blood types is that the procedure has to be economical on a unit-by-unit basis, said Dr. Alyssa Ziman, the director of transfusion medicine at UCLA Health.

In some targeted situations in which type O blood is scarce, the ability to transform one type to another could come in handy, Ziman told Live Science.

But the process would necessarily be limited in how much blood could be effectively transformed. In order to decrease the risk of spreading infectious disease, donation centers never pool blood donations, she said; that is, they don’t put all type A blood together, etc.

So, any blood that needed to be altered would have to be altered one donation at a time, she said.

Withers, however, said that the enzymes his team discovered could eventually be used in the clinic. It would be possible to alter blood on a bag-by-bag basis, he said.

You could see this being put into the bag at the time of collection, just sitting there doing its job,” Withers said during the press conference.

The next step, though, will be investigating the enzymes for safety — a project Withers and his colleagues have already begun in collaboration with hematologists and Canadian Blood Services, the nonprofit that manages Canada’s supply of donor blood.

The findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Facebook And NYU Want To Use AI To Make MRI Exams 10 Times Faster

MRI scans may some day be available for a lot more people in need.

Facebook on Monday said it’s teaming up with NYU School of Medicine’s Department of Radiology to launch “fastMRI,” a collaborative research project that aims to use artificial intelligence to make MRI — magnetic resonance imaging that is 10 times faster.

Doctors and radiologists use MRI scanners to produce images that show in detail a patient’s organs, blood vessels, bones, soft issues and such, which helps doctors diagnose problems.

However, completing a MRI scan can take from 15 minutes to over an hour, according to Facebook’s blog post.

That’s challenging for children and patients in a lot of pain, who can’t lie still for a long time. It also limits how many scans the hospital can do in a day.




If the project succeeds, MRI scans could be completed in about five minutes, thus making time for more people in need to receive scans.

The idea is to actually capture less data during MRI scans, making them faster, and then use AI to “fill in views omitted from the accelerated scan,” Facebook said in its blog post. The challenge is doing this without missing any important details.

Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research, or FAIR, will work with NYU medical researchers to train artificial neural networks to recognize the structures of human body.

The project will use image data from 10,000 clinical cases with roughly 3 million MRIs of the knee, brain and liver. Patients’ names and medical information aren’t included.

We hope one day that because of this project, MRI will be able to replace a x-rays for many applications, also leading to decreased radiation exposure to patients,” said Michael Recht, MD, chair of department of radiology at NYU School of Medicine, in an email statement.

Our collaboration is one between academia and industry in which we can leverage our complementary strengths to achieve a real-world result.

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