Space Coast Daily Healthcare Headlines of the Week

By  //  October 9, 2014

Topics Include: Texas Ebola Patient Dies; U.S. Life Expectancy Reaches Record High; Social Media Changing Our Brain – and More.


According to officials from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Thomas Eric Duncan, the 42-year old Liberian man who tested positive for Ebola in Dallas last month, died on Wednesday morning.

The hospital’s brief statement said that Duncan was pronounced dead of the disease at 7:51 a.m. local time Wednesday. “Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola,” the statement said. “He fought courageously in this battle.”

Residents Quarantined In Dallas Apartment Where Ebola Patient Had StayedThe initial management of Duncan’s case at his first presentation to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s emergency department has been the focus of controversy.

He originally presented at the hospital Sept. 26 with fever and abdominal pain but was sent home with antibiotics, only to return two days later with progressive symptoms of Ebola.

“He fought courageously in this battle,” the hospital said in their statement.

“Our professionals, the doctors, and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing. We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time.” 

Meanwhile, Texas health officials and the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) are continuing to monitor the health of 48 people with definite or possible contact with Duncan while he had Ebola symptoms. Only 10 are regarded as being at high risk, including family members and healthcare workers.

As of Tuesday, officials said, none of the people being monitored had developed fever or other symptoms consistent with Ebola. (Berman and Brown, Washington Post, 10/8)


The National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that life expectancy at birth among the US population – defined as “the average number of years that a group of infants would live if the group was to experience throughout life the age-specific death rates present in the year of birth” – increased from 78.7 years in 2011 to 78.8 years in 2012, which is the longest life expectancy ever recorded.

Happy-Old-PeopleThe report authors say this increase in predicted longevity can be attributed to a decline in many major causes of death, such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Women’s life expectancy continues to be almost 5 years more than men, with predicted longevity of women at 81.2 years, and men at 76.4 years.

Life expectancy at the age of 65 for the total population also saw an increase, from 19.2 years in 2011 to 19.3 years in 2012. (Whiteman, Medical News Today, 10/8)


Reuters reports that Facebook is taking aim at your healthcare. “The company is exploring creating online ‘support communities’ that would connect Facebook users suffering from various ailments. A small team is also considering new ‘preventative care’ applications that would help improve their lifestyles,” the article states.

medicalfacebookLike Google, Microsoft and Apple, all of which have or are in the process of venturing out into the healthcare realm, Facebook is throwing its hat in the ring in the hopes that healthcare might work as a tool to increase engagement with the site.

However, privacy, an area where the company has faced considerable criticism over the years, will likely prove a challenge.

With many stories about Facebook “Asking For Forgiveness” in breaking users privacy, instead of Facebook “Asking For Permission,” will users really be inclined to put their private health information out there? (Farr and Oreskovic, Reuters, 10/3)


A team of experts from the University of Chicago, led by otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon Dr. Jayant Pinto, studied and reported on the loss of olfactory function (sense of smell) as a predictor of impending death.  

pg-health-woes-of-aging-08-fullThey found that the risk of dying within the next 5 years after losing the sense of smell was several times higher than that of a similar population with olfactory function intact.

Mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease have previously been linked to olfactory dysfunction, but never so clearly to overall risk of near-term death.

Pinto said in a press statement that, of all the senses, “smell is the most undervalued and under-appreciated—until it’s gone,” and told The Atlantic that he hopes this study raises the profile of smell as a sense to be regularly evaluated by doctors, and that people will be attuned to changes in their own olfactory acuity. (Hamblin, The Atlantic, 10/3)


According to a new study in the Annals of Surgery, parents who are given the prices of various forms of surgery are more likely to choose the less-costly option for their children, and are very appreciative when options are explained and they are given a choice.

surgery costFor the study, pediatric appendicitis patients and their parents were shown one of two videos describing both open and laparoscopic appendectomy procedures.

The videos were identical, except one of them revealed the price of the surgeries. The study participants then selected their preferred procedure and answered questions about what factors influenced their decision.

The average total cost of the traditional open surgery is about $2,000 less than the laparoscopic approach.

Almost 66 percent of parents chose the less-costly procedure when they were informed about the procedures’ prices and similar outcomes, with cost being the primary influence on their decision in 31 percent.

Study co-author University of Utah pediatric surgeon Dr. Eric Scaife told the New York Times that the results suggest parents are more likely to choose a less-costly form of surgery regardless of health insurance or economic status, and that physicians should be versed on the cost of procedures and routinely notify their patients of the price to take advantage of an opportunity to affect change in health care spending. (Rosenthal, New York Times, 10/1)


ASAPSCIENCE is the creative brainchild of two Canadians, Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, who, after graduating from the University of Guelph with biology degrees, recognized the power of YouTube to inform and entertain.

06e1ec9Their very popular YouTube channel produces three-minute lessons that bring logic, reason, and scientific evidence to some of the most common of questions.

In the video below they look at fascinating facts related to how social media affects our brain.

Psychological addiction, diminished ability to multi-task, phantom vibration syndrome, increasing self-involvement and dopamine stimulation, and a statistical increase in successful partnerships started on line are all scientifically linked to social media, which is now being utilized by 1/3 of the entire world.