Longer Looks: Interesting Reads You Might Have Missed
Each week, KHN finds longer stories for you to sit back and enjoy. This week's selections include stories on the human brain, PPE, ventilation, the heart, dieting, palliative care, MTV and more.
The Washington Post:
Why Human Brains Are Bad At Assessing The Risks Of Pandemics
More than six months into a pandemic in the United States, we know a few things. We know that the novel coronavirus can be fatal, that it's passed via respiratory droplets, that masks and social distancing help stop its spread. And yet many Americans, weary of lockdowns, seem determined to return to social gatherings and other "normal" activities, even though experts have warned against this. The question is, why? Why do some take the threat of the virus more seriously than others? (Kvatum, 9/8)
Amid A Global Pandemic, Designers Aim To Reimagine PPE
In March, as Covid-19 cases spiked and supplies of N95 protective masks dwindled at the Bay Area hospital where her brother-in-law works, Megan Duong launched a local search for N95s. Along with her sister-in-law, Sabrina Paseman, Duong enlisted volunteers and tracked down 7,000 masks — barely enough to cover the needs of two hospitals for one day. “We just knew that it was not a scalable solution,” Duong said.So, Duong and Paseman, both former Apple employees, set out to invent a new tool that, they hoped, would make available mask technologies more effective and accessible. (Thomasy, 9/9)
How To Better Ventilate Your Home During The Pandemic
My obsession with ventilation began long before the pandemic. Five years ago, when I moved from central Tokyo to the coast of Japan, a blanket of humidity seemed to levitate out from the sea and the surrounding mountains, wrapping everything I owned in a moist haze. Combined with crushing summer heat, it cultivated a perfect recipe for mold. (Mod, 9/8)
Our Health Depends On Our Homes And Work Spaces
When COVID-19 hit the U.S., most of us became homebodies. Journalist Emily Anthes was thus propitious in the timing of her new book, The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of How Buildings Shape Our Behavior, Health, and Happiness (Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux). You may distract yourself from cabin fever by learning about the cabin.Actually, the work covers a wide variety of indoor situations. One chapter looks at architectural design that encourages exercise. For example, apartment building planners stumbled on this shocking strategy: to get people to use the stairs more, make the stairwells wider and well lit. You know, nicer to use. (Mirsky, 9/1)
Did COVID-19 Mess Up My Heart?
The stairs have become my daily Everest. Just six months ago, the steep climb to my fourth-floor walk-up in Brooklyn was a nuisance only when I was carrying bags of groceries. Now, every time I mount those 53 steps, no matter how slowly, even if I’m empty-handed, my heart rate shoots up to marathon-level. I can actually feel the thud-thud in my throat. Sometimes I have to pause between landings to lie on the floor and stick my feet up in the air to avoid passing out. (Copaken, 9/4)
The Washington Post:
Italy’s Bergamo Is Calling Back Coronavirus Survivors. About Half Say They Haven’t Fully Recovered.
The first wave is over, thousands have been buried, and in a city that was once the world’s coronavirus epicenter, the hospital is calling back the survivors. It is drawing their blood, examining their hearts, scanning their lungs, asking them about their lives. Twenty people per day, it is measuring what the coronavirus has left in its wake.“How are you feeling?” a doctor recently asked the next patient to walk in, a 54-year-old who still can’t ascend a flight of steps without losing her breath. (Harlan and Pitrelli, 9/8)
How Good A Diet Is Intermittent Fasting?
Healthy weight management comes with many perks. Among the proven benefits: a reduced risk of diabetes, less joint pain, lower chances of certain cancers and an overall fitter cardiovascular system. Some regimens, particularly the Mediterranean diet, seem especially well suited to delivering these advantages, though, as with all diets, only to the degree that people can stick with them and avoid overeating. Now research hints that another trendy diet may offer even more extensive health benefits. At least that is the claim by some who study an approach to eating—and not eating—called intermittent fasting. (Wallis, 9/1)
The Washington Post:
Palliative Care Offers More Than Treatment For Dying
Palliative care has an image problem. It’s a medical specialty that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness to improve the quality of life for both patient and caregivers. But while the specialty’s goal is to help all patients with a serious, potentially life-threatening illness, palliative care specialists are almost always involved with patients approaching the end of life. The result is that the very phrase “palliative care” has become frightening to many people with critical illnesses and their families, wrongly raising the idea that they are being sent to specialists who will help them die. Now a growing movement is advocating to rename palliative care so that patients — and doctors — won’t fear using it. (Warraich, 9/7)
The Interstate Highway System As A Model For U.S. Health Care
Driving from California to Vermont, as I did this summer, offers time to think and plenty to look at. The vast interstate highway system that I followed for much of my journey, championed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was created in large part by the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1956, which declared that building this highway system was “essential to the national interest.” (Williams, 9/10)
The New York Times:
What I Learned As A Parent Of A Transgender Child
Sweat trickled down my neck as I stood in the heat alongside my daughter and husband, waiting for our turn to march in the Los Angeles Pride Parade in 2018.While I had been a spectator at Pride before, I never guessed that one day I would be marching beside my teenager, dark maroon lipstick painting her lips, a barrette pinning back her now almost shoulder-length hair, a “she” pin fastened to her “love wins” shirt. She was beaming and radiant.I looked over at my husband and held his gaze. We each ceremoniously waved the pink, blue and white striped trans-pride flag with one hand and gripped our daughter’s hand with the other. (Hassouri, 9/8)
The Washington Post:
With Shows Like '16 And Recovering,' MTV Is One Of The Networks Looking To Change How We See Mental Health On TV
When MTV introduced its long-running documentary series “True Life” in 1998, the first installment offered a grim look at heroin addiction. Reporting from the affluent Dallas suburb of Plano, Tex. — where a spate of teen overdose deaths had caused nationwide alarm — Serena Altschul interviewed young adult subjects as they used intravenous drugs. Director Wilson Van Law told the Houston Chronicle he was so unsettled by what he’d documented in “True Life: Fatal Dose” that he temporarily quit smoking and drinking. “It certainly depressed me,” he told the newspaper. “It was the most difficult story I’ve worked on, and I’ve done some pretty dark stuff.” (Butler, 9/9)
Musclebound Mice Thrived In Space With The Help Of A Drug
Some mighty mice have overcome one of the major obstacles to interplanetary space flight: muscle and bone loss.The mice got a drug that prevented the usual decreases in muscle and bone mass during a month on the International Space Station, a team reports in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The drug was effective not just in preserving the muscle mass and bone mass, but actually caused the muscles and bones to grow," says Dr. Se-Jin Lee, a professor at The Jackson Laboratory and the University of Connecticut. (Hamilton, 9/8)