If You're a Woman Having a Heart Attack, You'll Want a Female ER Doctor

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iStock

Women who suffer heart attacks may face a 12 percent greater risk of dying if their care is entrusted to a male doctor, according to a new study reported by Scientific American.

Researchers think one factor in this disparity is the shortage of female physicians, who make up only a quarter of emergency room doctors in the U.S. For the study, published in the journal PNAS, the researchers analyzed a Florida Agency for Health Care Administration database that contained 19 years of records on heart attack cases from nearly every emergency room in the state.

They analyzed the statistical relationship between rates of death and four different physician-patient combinations: male doctors treating men or women, and female doctors treating men or women. The statistics were “indistinguishable except for male doctor–female patient,” the study’s co-author, Brad Greenwood, tells Scientific American.

They found that one out of every 66 women who has a heart attack will die in the emergency room if she is treated by a male doctor instead of a female one.

Although heart disease is the main cause of death in both men and women in the U.S., it’s often wrongly perceived as being a male disease, as well as an ailment that only affects the elderly. However, the disease kills about 15,000 women under the age of 55 each year.

Men are also more likely to recover from it. According to American Heart Association statistics from 2016, 36 percent of men die within five years of a heart attack, compared to 47 percent of women.

Other research has yielded similar findings. A study published in February found that doctors are more likely to ignore signs of a heart attack when they’re reported by young female patients as opposed to young male patients. This could be because the symptoms tend to manifest differently in women than they do in men, with female heart attack patients sometimes complaining of neck and back pains, fatigue, and nausea; because most studies have focused on men, their symptoms are seen as the standard ones.

As a result, many women wait before seeking help. “I can’t tell you how many women I’ve seen who say they felt something and wondered if it was a heart attack,” Harmony Reynolds, a cardiologist who specializes in women’s heart health, told the New York Post in February. “That inkling is there, but for some reason it doesn’t convert into action.”

For more information about the symptoms of heart attacks in women, visit the Go Red for Women website.

[h/t Scientific American]

One Good Reason Not to Hold in a Fart: It Could Leak Out of Your Mouth

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iStock/grinvalds

The next time you hold in a fart for fear of being heard by polite company, just remember this: It could leak out of your mouth instead of your butt. Writing on The Conversation, University of Newcastle nutrition and dietetics professor Clare Collins explains that pent-up gas can pass through your gut wall and get reabsorbed into your circulation. It's then released when you exhale, whether you like it or not.

“Holding on too long means the build up of intestinal gas will eventually escape via an uncontrollable fart,” Collins writes. In this case, the fart comes out of the wrong end. Talk about potty mouth.

A few brave scientists have investigated the phenomenon of flatulence. In one study, 10 healthy volunteers were fed half a can of baked beans in addition to their regular diets and given a rectal catheter to measure their farts over a 24-hour period. Although it was a small sample, the results were still telling. Men and women let loose the same amount of gas, and the average number of “flatus episodes” (a single fart, or series of farts) during that period was eight. Another study of 10 people found that high-fiber diets led to fewer but bigger farts, and a third study found that gases containing sulphur are the culprit of the world’s stinkiest farts. Two judges were tapped to rate the odor intensity of each toot, and we can only hope that they made it out alive.

Scientific literature also seems to support Collins’s advice to “let it go.” A 2010 paper on “Methane and the gastrointestinal tract” says methane, hydrogen sulfide, and other gases that are produced in the intestinal tract are mostly eliminated from the body via the anus or “expelled from the lungs.” Holding it in can lead to belching, flatulence, bloating, and pain. And in some severe cases, pouches can form along the wall of the colon and get infected, causing diverticulitis.

So go ahead and let it rip, just like nature intended—but maybe try to find an empty room first.

[h/t CBS Philadelphia]

A Chemical in Spider Venom Could Be a Key to Killing Skin Cancer Cells

Alan Couch, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Alan Couch, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Despite their formidable reputation in the eyes of arachnophobes, spiders contribute to human society in a number of positive ways. On a practical level, they can reduce the population of insects in your home by trapping them for meals. Outdoors, they keep pests from destroying gardens and crops, making sure we don't slip into a period of famine and anarchy. In the lab, scientists have identified a number of chemicals in their venom as possible building blocks for medicines treating everything from pain to muscular dystrophy.

That field of study has led to a promising discovery. In Australia, researchers have isolated one particular compound in a funnel-web spider's venom that can diminish skin cancer cells.

Scientists at QIMR Berghofer and the University of Queensland began studying the Australian funnel-web spider known as Hadronyche infensa after a similar Brazilian arachnid, Acanthoscurria gomesiana, was shown to carry a peptide in its venom called gomesin that has cancer-fighting properties. Identifying a similar peptide in the Australian spider, the researchers demonstrated that the chemical was effective in killing skin cancer cells while leaving healthy skin cells alone.

The peptide was tested on human melanoma cells, eradicating the majority of them. In mice, it also slowed the growth of the melanomas. The peptide was even effective in killing cells found in facial tumors of Tasmanian devils, a marsupial susceptible to an aggressive form of skin cancer transmittable through biting. The results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

These peptides are able to be manipulated, taking on different properties as scientists alter amino acids to create new and potentially more potent versions. It’s hoped that this line of research will lead to the development of treatments for skin cancer in humans.

It's something to think about the next time you consider swatting a spider—though if you happen to reside in Australia and see the funnel-web variety, you might not have a choice. While there are 35 different species of funnel-webs of varying potency, some are so formidable that their fangs can pierce fingernails, and their venom is able to kill a human in less than 15 minutes.

[h/t New Atlas]

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