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Study Shows Happiness Can Trigger 'Broken Heart Syndrome'

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Cardiologists believe they’ve found a surprising new trigger for the condition commonly known as “broken heart syndrome”: joy. The doctors have just published their findings in the European Heart Journal

The technical term is takotsubo syndrome (TTS) or takotsubo myopathy. Sudden weakening of heart muscles can distort the heart’s left ventricle, forcing it to expand at the bottom and resulting in a shape similar to a takotsubo, or Japanese octopus trap. Because TTS is frequently triggered by intense emotions like anger, fear, and grief, it’s also known as “broken heart syndrome.” The condition most frequently affects older women, but has been known to affect a wide range of adults.

But the authors of the new paper weren’t so sure “broken heart” was the right term. They wondered if happy events could trigger TTS, too. 

To find out, they tapped into the International Takotsubo Registry, which yielded case reports on 1750 patients from nine different countries. Of those 1750 cases, 485 had clear emotional triggers. Most of these were clearly negative: 30 patients were diagnosed after the death of a spouse, and 16 after attending funerals. Car accidents triggered TTS in 11 patients, while family arguments accounted for another 17 diagnoses. One person developed TTS after a nightmare, while another came down with the condition after losing her purse. The extent of the emotional trauma varied, but the majority fit the “broken heart” stereotype.

But there were a few patients whose TTS arose after happy or exciting events. The doctors classified 20 people, or 4 percent of the emotional-onset TTS cases, as experiencing what they termed “happy heart syndrome.” Triggers included the birth of great-grandchildren, winning at the casino, attending a wedding, and getting good news from a doctor. Three of the 20 cases were related to birthday parties. The authors found this especially interesting, because, as they noted, previous studies have shown that people predisposed to heart problems are 27 percent more likely to have a cardiac event on their birthdays. 

The “happy heart syndrome” patients were very similar to those in the “broken heart” category, with one exception: Their hearts were more likely to have ballooned up mid-ventricle (as opposed to near the bottom). 

A 4 percent prevalence is pretty small, but the researchers say it’s worth further study. "We have shown that the triggers for TTS can be more varied than previously thought,” co-author Jelena Ghadri said in a press release. “A TTS patient is no longer the classic ‘broken hearted’ patient, and the disease can be preceded by positive emotions too. Clinicians should be aware of this and also consider that patients who arrive in the emergency department with signs of heart attacks, such as chest pain and breathlessness, but after a happy event or emotion, could be suffering from TTS just as much as a similar patient presenting after a negative emotional event."

While it's a recent discovery, the concept isn't new. "We believe that TTS is a classic example of an intertwined feedback mechanism involving the psychological and/or physical stimuli, the brain and the cardiovascular system,” Ghadri’s co-author Christian Templin continued in the press release. “Perhaps both happy and sad life events, while inherently distinct, share final common pathways in the central nervous system output, which ultimately lead to [this condition]."

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How to Choose the Best Watermelon
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Buying a watermelon is an experience one can grow to resent. The 92 percent moisture content of Citrullus lanatus means you're basically buying a giant ball of water. On the plus side, they're delicious and packed with enough vitamin C and D to keep you from getting scurvy.

But how to select the best of the batch? Food blogger Emma Christensen over at kitchn recently offered some advice, and it involves a little weight-training. When you examine watermelons in the produce section of your local grocery, you want to look for the heaviest one for its size. The denser the fruit, the more juice it has. That's when it's at its most ripe.

Next, check the underside of the watermelon for the "splotch." That's the yellow patch the watermelon develops by resting on the ground. If it's a creamy yellow, it's also a good indicator of being ripe.

Finally, give the underside a little smack—not aggressive enough to draw attention from grocery workers, but enough so that you can determine whether the watermelon sounds hollow. If it does, that's good. If it sounds dull, like you're hitting a solid brick of material, it's overripe; put the watermelon down and slowly back away from it.

If you're not confident in your watermelon evaluation abilities, there's another option: Local farmers markets typically have only choice product available, so any watermelon you pick up is likely to be a winner. You can also ask the merchant to pick one out for you. Pay attention to what he's doing and then try to emulate it the next time you're forced to choose your own produce.

[h/t: kitchn]

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Health
The CDC Makes It Official: Public Pools Are Disgusting
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Every summer, warm weather sends people across the country looking for a cool refuge in public pools, hotel pools, spas, and other water-based destinations. Before you take the plunge, you may want to heed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Jumping into a publicly-populated pool could be like bathing in someone else’s diarrhea, as Men’s Health reports.

The health agency revealed its findings in their Mortality and Morbidity Report, which explains why pools are ground zero for bacteria. Between 2000 and 2014, the CDC traced 493 outbreaks and over 27,000 cases of illness that could be connected to exposure to a public pool. The primary culprit was Cryptosporidium, a parasite found in feces that causes intestinal distress. The determined little bugs can survive for up to seven days after encountering the CDC’s recommended levels of one to three parts per million (PPM) of free chlorine. Even if the pool is being cleaned and maintained properly, Cryptosporidium can idle long enough to infect someone else. The report also indicated that Legionella (which causes Legionnaire’s disease) and Pseudomonas (responsible for ear infections and folliculitis) were found in some of the pools.

The problem is likely the result of swimmers entering the pool while suffering from an upset stomach and leaving trace fecal matter behind. The CDC recommends that you not enter a public pool if you feel unwell, that you ask for a pool inspection report if you’re concerned about the hygiene of the facility, and that you absolutely not swallow any water. The agency also recommends that any pool owner who has experienced a “diarrheal incident” in their water opt for hyperchlorination to kill bacteria.

[h/t Men’s Health]

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