Asthma Death Rates Decline, Most Notably Among Seniors

Asthma in seniors declinesThe death rate from asthma in the U.S. fell from 2.1 to 1.2 per 100,000 people from 1999 to 2015, even as the prevalence of the condition continues to grow, MedPage Today reports. In 2013, 23 million people in this country were living with the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that asthma accounted for 3,630 deaths that year, 18 million emergency department visits, nearly 350,000 hospital admissions, and a total cost exceeding $20.7 billion. The drop in asthma deaths was most dramatic among people 65 and older. Experts called the finding “good news” and attributed it partly to increased awareness — especially among those caring for seniors — improved medications and better devices to deliver those meds.

Can a Brain Scan Avert Suicides?

Brainscan detects suicide risksJon Hamiltion of National Public Radio spotlights a promising experiment using a technology called functional MRI to identify individuals at serious risk of suicide. In the experiment, conducted by psychiatrists and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University Pittsburgh, volunteers lie in a brain scanner and watch a series of words come up on a computer screen. Hamilton notes that some of the words are obvious — apathy, death, desperate and funeral — while others were less so. By capturing the brain activity of the volunteers, “the computer soon learned to tell which brains belong to a person who was suicidal” and even those who had only thought about suicide and those who actually made an attempt.

Which ‘Biggest Loser’ Kept Weight Off — and Why?

Biggest LoserWhile the right diet is the most significant factor in losing weight, keeping those pounds off may require significantly more physical exercise than the CDC recommends. Gina Kolata notes in the New York Times, that a study of 14 participants of the TV show “The Biggest Loser” found that those who maintained impressive weight loss “had 80 minutes a day of moderate activity, like walking, or 35 minutes a day of vigorous exercise, like running.” CDC guidelines recommend that healthy adults get 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise. The study was published in the journal Obesity.