An article about sex

Given the average age of our readership (more on that in a future edition), this seems appropriate. A study reported by the BBC found that sex is a very rare trigger for cardiac arrest. Only 34 out of the 4,557 instances of cardiac arrest examined were associated with sex. And of those, 32 were men, mostly middle-aged. (No, men, you may not use this increased risk to explain the earnings gap.) Disturbingly, CPR was found to have been performed in only about a third of the cases. Maybe the other two-thirds just figured they fell asleep? But seriously, if you don’t know how to perform CPR, here’s a guide. It can save a life. And preserve a sexual partner.

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Surprise! You now have high blood pressure

That’s the news 4.2 million Americans woke up to on Monday when the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released new guidelines on what is considered hypertension. Now, if your sphygmomanometer reads 130/80, then your blood pressure is considered high. But the new guidelines aren’t changing much in terms of treatment—the physicians are advising that only about 80,000 more patients will benefit from hypertensive drugs. Those newly within the high blood pressure range are pretty much just being put on notice to change their lifestyle habits. However, nearly everyone can benefit from lowering their blood pressure—here’s 10 ways to do that without medication.

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Swab, Spit, or Blood

We’ve all seen the Ancestry.com ads for DNA tests that reveal your ethnic mix. Harmless enough. But what if a similar test indicated you had a low risk for coronary heart disease? Would you start swallowing these 2,000+ calorie bombs at every meal? Not harmless. Consumers are increasingly embracing genetic health risk (GHR) testing to understand their individual risk for developing diseases and the FDA recently released an update to streamline the development and review pathway for GHR tests. These tests can be valuable for drug development (see how Novartis is using genetic testing in an Alzheimer’s trial) and treatment decisions and the CDC has some thoughts on the topic.

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Biomedical big brother

Last week, we mentioned how medication adherence is a problem that costs a ton of money. In that study, researchers couldn’t get patients to increase their adherence through time-tested techniques like bribery. Well Otsuka has partnered with Proteus Digital Health to come up with a new solution—pills with sensors that register when the medication has been taken. While targeting schizophrenia medication adherence might not be the best patient population to start with—delusions of being watched are literally right there on the symptom list—it’s still an interesting idea. The sensor is tiny and made from digestible materials, but requires the use of a skin patch that you need to replace every week. We’ll keep watching to see if this sticks (we’ll be here all week.)

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5000-to-1, here’s hoping these odds are better

What does the greatest upset in modern sports have to do with diabetes? Read on. Leicester has been selected as the first UK city for a Novo Nordisk-led global initiative, Cities Changing Diabetes, which aims to stop the rise of type II diabetes in urban areas. Turns out Leicester has one of the largest populations with diabetes – almost 9%, well above the UK average of 6.4%. The upset? We must apologize to our European readers that we have to explain to football-naïve Americans that last year the Leicester City Foxes held 5000-1 odds to win the Premier League, and they did. Not since Roy Hobbs propelled the NY Knights into the World Series has there been such an upset. Let’s win one for the Gipper and knock out diabetes. Sports.

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You don’t have to be a close talker, but it might help

As a top nominee in the “weird, but cool” category, researchers found the breath of children who tested positive for malaria smells different than those who tested negative, suggesting it may be possible to identify malaria based on a “breathprint.” Weird. Good news for you close talkers if the victim of your close talking can tell the difference, otherwise it’s just annoying as hell. Kidding aside, this is really good news because the gold standard test, blood-smear microscopy, is difficult to implement in resource-poor settings. BTW, according to the WHO, there were 214 million malaria cases worldwide in 2015 and ~90% of the ~500,000 malaria deaths occurred in Africa. The fight to end malaria has long been a focus of The Gate Foundation, and now we feel bad for cursing at Windows.

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Stem cell sheets save skin

The situation: a seven-year-old had lost two-thirds of his skin to junctional epidermolysis bullosa. German doctors had tried nearly everything to try to treat the condition which they thought would soon be fatal. When the boy’s father asked if there were any experimental treatments they could try, they found one with Dr. Michele De Luca who was able to use the kid’s stem cells to construct a fully functional skin graft to replace 80% of his skin. And it took! This marks the first time a stem cell other than the hematopoietic kind has been successfully transplanted. The kid has made a full recovery, and is off to playing soccer with his friends, likely with much less fear of scraping a knee.

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