Friday, February 3, 2017

What Do Crocheted Octopuses and Preemies Have in Common?

As much as people like to trash Facebook, I have to say it is a great way to learn about ideas and issues around the world - unique things that you may never have heard about otherwise. Take this story for instance.

Researchers from Denmark discovered that premature babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) respond positively when they have a crocheted octopus at their side. The crocheted tentacles of the octopuses* remind the tiny babies of their umbilical cord. While babies are in utero, they often
grab hold of their cord as they float around in their cocoon-like home, but once they're born, there's nothing for them to grab on to, other than their life-saving tubes that may be pulled out or dislocated. But babies who were each given a crocheted octopus seemed less stressed. Nurses have observed the babies' heart and respiration breathing rates drop when they are able to hold on to the tentacles. Another important benefit: if the babies are holding and pulling on the tentacles, they are less likely to pull on those tubes.

A hospital in the UK decided to give their premature babies their own octopus to see if it would make a difference, according to an online article in Prima. The nurses in the hospital did find that the octopuses helped their little charges.

First kangaroo care (holding baby to the skin), now octopuses, what next will we find will help those fragile babies?

*This is the correct plural form of octopus :-) 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Snow-Related Heart Attacks May Show Up Two Days Later

Every winter we hear stories about people who have heart attacks after a heavy snowfall. It's not hard to imagine. People who are usually sedentary or moderately active take to shovelling out their driveways or to rescue their cars from mountains of snow pushed to the side of the road. A new study suggests that while the heart attack/snow shovelling connection is valid, it's the moderate snowfalls that seem to have the most effect. In addition, the heart attacks often present two days after the snowfall.

© Luckydoor | - Snow Shovel

This large study took place from 2010 to 2015 and looked at over 400,000 adults who had been hospitalized at two hospitals in Boston. The researchers assessed patients who had been admitted with cardiovascular conditions and cold-weather conditions (frostbite and falls/injuries). Interestingly, the researchers found that admissions to hospital for patients with heart disease occurred most often (increased by 23%) after moderate snowfalls, defined as 5 to 10 inches, rather than high snowfalls. Cardiovascular disease admissions actually dropped by 32% on high snowfall days, the authors wrote.

One theory that might explain why moderate snowfalls have more of an effect is that people may stay inside more during heavier snowfalls and that moderate falls seem easier to manage.

So be careful, even if the snowfall isn't drastic and beware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack for a few days after your time shovelling snow:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.