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Dog ownership was linked to improved outcomes after a major CV event and with a lower risk for death in the long term, according to two studies published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

“The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 American Heart Association Scientific Statement ‘Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk’ that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events,” Glenn N. Levine, MD, professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, director of the cardiac care unit at Michael E. DeBakey Medical Center in Houston and chair of the writing group of the AHA’s scientific statement on pet ownership, said in a press release. “Further, these two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality.”

Study on Swedish patients

Mwenya Mubanga, MD, PhD, assistant undergoing research training in the department of medical sciences, molecular epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data from 181,696 patients with MI (mean age, 71 years; 64% men) and 154,617 patients with stroke (mean age, 73 years; 55% men) between 2001 and 2012 from the Swedish National Patient Register. Patients were aged 40 to 85 years and did not have an event between 1997 and 2001. Information on dog ownership was collected from two dog registers, as dogs are required to be registered in Sweden since 2001.

Death was the main outcome that was assessed in this study. A secondary outcome included rehospitalization for the same event after 30 days.

Dog ownership accounted for 5.7% of patients with MI and 4.8% of those with stroke.

During 804,137 person-years of follow-up for patients with MI, dog owners had a reduced risk for death after hospitalization, which was seen in those who lived alone (adjusted HR = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.61-0.75) and those who lived with a partner or child (aHR = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.8-0.9).

Similar results were seen for patients with ischemic stroke during 638,219 person-years of follow-up. The adjusted HR for patients who owned a dog and lived alone was 0.73 (95% CI, 0.66-0.8) and 0.88 for those who owned a dog and lived with a partner or child (95% CI, 0.83-0.93).

Dog ownership was also associated with a reduced risk for hospitalization for recurrent MI (HR = 0.93; 95% CI, 0.87-0.99).

“One mechanism may be an increased motivation for engagement in consistent physical activity in dog owners, a factor regarded important in post-event recovery of cognition, arm function, balance and gait,” Mubanga and colleagues wrote. “Another explanation is reduced risk of depression, an important risk factor for death after myocardial infarction.”

Systematic review, meta-analysis

In another study from the same publication, Caroline K. Kramer, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the division of endocrinology and metabolism at University of Toronto, and colleagues performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of data from 3,837,005 participants from 10 studies published between 1950 and May 24, 2019.

Studies were included if they included original data of prospective observational studies, included patients older than 18 years, reported CV mortality or all-cause mortality and evaluated dog ownership at baseline.

During a mean follow-up of 10.1 years, there were 530,515 deaths.

There was a 24% risk reduction for all-cause mortality in participants who owned a dog compared with those who did not (RR = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.67-0.86). Six studies showed a significant reduction in the risk for death in participants who owned a dog.

Participants with prior coronary events who lived in a home with a dog had an even more pronounced reduction in the risk for all-cause mortality (RR = 0.35; 95% CI, 0.17-0.69; I2 = 0%). When the analyses were restricted to studies that evaluated CV mortality, there was a 31% risk reduction for CV death in participants who owned a dog (RR = 0.69; 95% CI, 0.67-0.71; I2 = 5.1%).

“Taken together, our meta-analysis suggests the need for further investigation of the potential for dog ownership as a lifestyle intervention that may offer significant health benefits, particularly in populations at high risk for cardiovascular death,” Kramer and colleagues wrote.

https://www.healio.com/cardiology/vascular-medicine/news/online/%7B32f1f7e0-a796-4e8b-8a0d-75c32fa1de7d%7D/dog-ownership-may-improve-outcomes-reduce-mortality-risk-after-cv-events?utm_source=selligent&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cardiology+news&m_bt=1162769038120

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A woman wrote her own obituary before passing away at the age of 32 after a brave battle with cancer.

Ashley Ann Kuzma began by saying, “When you have recurrent laryngeal cancer that just won’t take no for an answer, you have a lot of time to think about death. The good thing is I no longer have to worry about saving for retirement, paying off student loans, or trying not to get skin cancer??? One positive outcome from having recurrent cancer was that it taught me to let go of the insignificant things and to just enjoy the people and places.”

Kuzma said her body finally had enough after three recurrences of cancer. She passed away last month at the Cleveland Clinic.

She was a gifted teacher at a high school in Erie, Pennsylvania; and loved reading, cuddling with her cats and traveling.

Kuzma wrote that after she found out her cancer was back for the fourth time, she went to Mexico and saw Chichen Itza.

“I am extremely grateful for the life that I lived. I was fortunate to have a loving family, supportive friends, a stable and meaningful job, and a house to call my own. My wish for you is to stop letting insignificant situations stress you out. Do what is important to you. Relax and enjoy the company of those around you. What do you value in your life? In the end, that’s what matters.”

Kuzma’s family told Good Morning America they didn’t know she had written her obituary until they found it on her computer following her death.

Kuzma’s mom, Vicky, said, “When we found it we were like, ‘What do we do?’ and I said, ‘She wrote this. We have to publish this. ‘ This is her last message to us, how could we not?”

In her obituary, Kuzma asked that a celebration of life be held for her “since I think viewings are too sad for everyone.”

She also asked that donations be made to the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania (Erie Humane Society), Orphan Angels Cat Sanctuary & Adoption Center Erie, Pa., or Hope Lodge, Cleveland, Ohio.

Ashley Ann Kuzma
1987 – 2019
Ashley Ann Kuzma Obituary
When you have recurrent laryngeal cancer that just won’t take no for an answer, you have a lot of time to think about death. The good thing is I no longer have to worry about saving for retirement, paying off student loans, or trying not to get skin cancer??? One positive outcome from having recurrent cancer was that it taught me to let go of the insignificant things and to just enjoy the people and places. After three recurrences, my body finally had enough and I passed away on Sunday, September 22, 2019 at the Cleveland Clinic.

I was born on May 21, 1987 in Beaver County, Pa. I grew up in Conway and attended Freedom Area High School (class of 2005). I earned a Bachelor’s in History and Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh (class of 2009), where I also became a member of Kappa Delta Sorority. I completed my teaching certificate and Master of Education degree at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. After I graduated high school, my family moved to Erie. While I spent a few years teaching in Lancaster County, I returned to Erie to plant my roots and became a gifted support teacher at McDowell Intermediate High School. In my spare time, I enjoyed reading, cuddling with my cats, wine tasting, relaxing on my dad’s boat, watching movies, golfing, decorating my house, watching football (go Steelers!), appreciating a good sunset, and watching TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, the original Will and Grace, and Friends. While in college I spent a semester abroad in London and was able to travel to Paris, France, Krakow, Poland (it had been a goal of mine to visit Auschwitz for many years), Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome, Italy. Some of my favorite family vacations include experiencing the awe of the Grand Canyon and enjoying the sun, sand, and family time in the Outer Banks. After I found out my cancer was back for the fourth time, I went to Mexico and saw Chichen Itza. I am extremely grateful for the life that I lived. I was fortunate to have a loving family, supportive friends, a stable and meaningful job, and a house to call my own. My wish for you is to stop letting insignificant situations stress you out. Do what is important to you. Relax and enjoy the company of those around you. What do you value in your life? In the end, that’s what matters.

I am survived by my wonderful parents, John William Kuzma and Vicky Lynn (Barron) Kuzma of Fairview, Pa.; my sister, Kristen Marie Kuzma of Clinton, Pa.; our family dog, Lizzy; my cats, Archie and Stella; my maternal grandmother, Verda Ann (Durst) Barron of New Brighton, Pa.; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and many friends.

I was preceded in death by my paternal grandparents, John Allen Kuzma and Dolores Marie (Gajewski) Kuzma; my maternal grandfather, Robert Eugene Barron; my childhood cat of 18 years, Sammy; our beloved family dog of 17 years, Dylan; and my cat, Leo.

Since I think viewings are too sad for everyone, I requested that my family host a celebration of my life. Please join them on Sunday, October 13, 2019 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Perry Highway Hose Co. Oliver Rd., Erie, Pa. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania (Erie Humane Society), Orphan Angels Cat Sanctuary & Adoption Center Erie, Pa., or Hope Lodge, Cleveland, Ohio.

This obituary was written by Ashley preceding her passing as part of the many preparations to make the transition easier on her family.

Sign the Guestbook at http://www.GoErie.com/obits.Sign the
Published in the Erie Times-News on Oct. 3, 2019

By Rafi Letzter

Giant molecules can be in two places at once, thanks to quantum physics.

That’s something that scientists have long known is theoretically true based on a few facts: Every particle or group of particles in the universe is also a wave — even large particles, even bacteria, even human beings, even planets and stars. And waves occupy multiple places in space at once. So any chunk of matter can also occupy two places at once. Physicists call this phenomenon “quantum superposition,” and for decades, they have demonstrated it using small particles.

But in recent years, physicists have scaled up their experiments, demonstrating quantum superposition using larger and larger particles. Now, in a paper published Sept. 23 in the journal Nature Physics, an international team of researchers has caused molecule made up of up to 2,000 atoms to occupy two places at the same time.

To pull it off, the researchers built a complicated, modernized version of a series of famous old experiments that first demonstrated quantum superposition.

Researchers had long known that light, fired through a sheet with two slits in it, would create an interference pattern, or a series of light and dark fringes, on the wall behind the sheet. But light was understood as a massless wave, not something made of particles, so this wasn’t surprising. However, in a series of famous experiments in the 1920s, physicists showed that electrons fired through thin films or crystals would behave in a similar way, forming patterns like light does on the wall behind the diffracting material.

If electrons were simply particles, and so could occupy only one point in space at a time, they would form two strips, roughly the shape of the slits, on the wall behind the film or crystal. But instead, the electrons hit that wall in complex patterns suggesting the electrons had interfered with themselves . That is a telltale sign of a wave; in some spots, the peaks of the waves coincide, creating brighter regions, while in other spots, the peaks coincide with troughs, so the two cancel each other out and create a dark region. Because physicists already knew that electrons had mass and were definitely particles, the experiment showed that matter acts both as individual particles and as waves.

But it’s one thing to create an interference pattern with electrons. Doing it with giant molecules is a lot trickier. Bigger molecules have less-easily detected waves, because more massive objects have shorter wavelengths that can lead to barely-perceptible interference patterns. And these 2,000-atom particles have wavelengths smaller than the diameter of a single hydrogen atom, so their interference pattern is much less dramatic.

To pull off the double-slit experiment for big things, the researchers built a machine that could fire a beam of molecules (hulking things called “oligo-tetraphenylporphyrins enriched with fluoroalkylsulfanyl chains,” some more than 25,000 times the mass of a simple hydrogen atom) through a series of grates and sheets bearing multiple slits. The beam was about 6.5 feet (2 meters) long. That’s big enough that the researchers had to account for factors like gravity and the rotation of the Earth in designing the beam emitter, the scientists wrote in the paper. They also kept the molecules fairly warm for a quantum physics experiment, so they had to account for heat jostling the particles.

But still, when the researchers switched the machine on, the detectors at the far end of the beam revealed an interference pattern. The molecules were occupying multiple points in space at once.

It’s an exciting result, the researchers wrote, proving quantum interference at larger scales than had ever before been detected.

“The next generation of matter-wave experiments will push the mass by an order of magnitude,” the authors wrote.

https://www.space.com/2000-atoms-in-two-places-at-once.html?utm_source=notification

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today joined Chicago Public Library (CPL) Commissioner Andrea Telli to announce a new policy to eliminate library late fees and remove outstanding debt for library patrons. Beginning October 1, CPL will eliminate overdue fines on all CPL-owned items currently in circulation, removing unfair barriers to basic library access, especially for youth and low-income patrons. These new policies are the latest in a series of efforts by Mayor Lightfoot to eliminate regressive fines and fees policies that have historically prevented too many Chicagoans from contributing to the local economy, and replace them with new policies to promote economic inclusion for all of Chicago’s communities.

With the announcement, Chicago becomes the largest city, and largest public library system in the U.S., to join the growing movement of eliminating overdue fines. Such fines have increasingly been found to be an ineffective tool in encouraging the return of library materials. Library patrons will still be responsible for returning books, and those who that do not return their books will still need to either replace, or pay for the value of, any materials not returned.

“Like too many Chicagoans, I know what it is like to grow up in financially-challenging circumstances and understand what it is like to be just one bill or one mistake away from crushing debt,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “The bold reforms we’re taking to make the Chicago Public Library system fine-free and forgive City Sticker debt will end the regressive practices disproportionately impacting those who can least afford it, ensure every Chicagoan can utilize our city’s services and resources, and eliminate the cycles of debt and generational poverty because of a few mistakes.”

CPL data indicates the disproportionate impact late fines have on different communities in the city, with 1 in 3 patrons in CPL’s South District (below 59th Street) currently unable to check out items because they owe ten dollars or more in fines and fees. In CPL’s North District, from North Avenue to Howard Street, this number drops to 1 in 6. Furthermore, many of the blocked users are those who can benefit most from the resources at Chicago Public Libraries – 1 in 5 suspended library cards citywide belong to children under 14.

“I’m thrilled that CPL has taken this important step towards ensuring that the library is accessible for all,” said CPL Commissioner Andrea Telli. “CPL welcomes home the thousands of Chicagoans who have become disconnected from their local branch due to fines. We are excited to see what we can build together with equitable access to information and learning.”

By October 1, all patrons will have any outstanding overdue fines from CPL materials cleared from their accounts. Materials checked out by CPL patrons will now automatically renew up to fifteen times if there are no holds on the item. Items will be marked as “lost” and accounts will be charged replacement costs one week after the last due date, but the charge will be cleared if the item is returned. Inter-library loan items and Museum Passports (which allow free admission to Chicago museums for) will still be subject to overdue fines.

“This is honestly the most exciting thing to happen at CPL since I’ve been here,” said CPL Branch Manager Lisa Roe. “It’s amazing to ‘walk the walk’ with regard to free and open access for all patrons.”

Research from other fine-free systems has indicated that fines do not increase return rates, and further that the cost of collecting and maintaining overdue fees often outweighs the revenue generated by them. Late fines constitute just 0.7% of CPL’s total budget. Additionally, fine collection often results in negative patron/staff interactions, undermining general public trust and comfort in the public library.

“The essential mission of publicly funded libraries is free, equal and equitable access to information in all its forms,” said America Library Association Executive Director Mary Ghikas. “We applaud Mayor Lightfoot’s and Commissioner Telli’s move to eliminate Chicago Public Library fines, which create economic barriers and negatively impact the working poor, children and marginalized populations. Every member of the community has a right to library service. Eliminating fines in Chicago will transform lives through education and lifelong learning.”

As a result of these policy changes, Chicago Public Library anticipates the return of thousands of outstanding items as well as thousands of patrons whose access to library materials has been impeded by overdue fines.

Chicago Public Library’s previous amnesty periods have shown that eliminating fines has a significant impact on making the library system more accessible for all. The most recent fine amnesty in 2016 resulted in over 15,000 new patrons and patrons returning their cards to good standing and also included a return of over $800,000 of CPL material. When CPL previously offered an amnesty program in 2012, the library received 101,301 overdue items valued at approximately $2 million and waived $641,820 worth of fines. 29,500 users renewed or applied for cards. The late materials ranged from items only a few weeks overdue to one book that had been due in 1934. Almost every item returned was able to be put into circulation within a few days so that other patrons could check them out.

The CPL Board authorized the elimination of overdue fines at their board meeting on September 18, 2019. The board also approved several administrative changes to reduce punitive measures and to help increase the return rate. With new policies in place to incentivize participation in Libraries across the city, new and returning Library patrons will benefit from the recent expansion of branch locations and programs, including three new library branches co-located with CHA apartments that opened earlier this year, an expansion of teen YOUmedia learning labs to eight new locations across the city and the upcoming opening of Legler Branch, the first regional library branch located on the city’s West Side since the 1970s.

https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2019/september/EliminateLibraryLateFees.html

By Laura Counts

Can’t stop checking your phone, even when you’re not expecting any important messages? Blame your brain.

A new study by researchers at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has found that information acts on the brain’s dopamine-producing reward system in the same way as money or food.

“To the brain, information is its own reward, above and beyond whether it’s useful,” says Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu, a neuroeconomist whose research employs functional magnetic imaging (fMRI), psychological theory, economic modeling, and machine learning. “And just as our brains like empty calories from junk food, they can overvalue information that makes us feel good but may not be useful—what some may call idle curiosity.”

The paper, “Common neural code for reward and information value,” was published this month by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Authored by Hsu and graduate student Kenji Kobayashi, now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, it demonstrates that the brain converts information into the same common scale as it does for money. It also lays the groundwork for unraveling the neuroscience behind how we consume information—and perhaps even digital addiction.

“We were able to demonstrate for the first time the existence of a common neural code for information and money, which opens the door to a number of exciting questions about how people consume, and sometimes over-consume, information,” Hsu says.

Rooted in the study of curiosity

The paper is rooted in the study of curiosity and what it looks like inside the brain. While economists have tended to view curiosity as a means to an end, valuable when it can help us get information to gain an edge in making decisions, psychologists have long seen curiosity as an innate motivation that can spur actions by itself. For example, sports fans might check the odds on a game even if they have no intention of ever betting.

Sometimes, we want to know something, just to know.

“Our study tried to answer two questions. First, can we reconcile the economic and psychological views of curiosity, or why do people seek information? Second, what does curiosity look like inside the brain?” Hsu says.

The neuroscience of curiosity

To understand more about the neuroscience of curiosity, the researchers scanned the brains of people while they played a gambling game. Each participant was presented with a series of lotteries and needed to decide how much they were willing to pay to find out more about the odds of winning. In some lotteries, the information was valuable—for example, when what seemed like a longshot was revealed to be a sure thing. In other cases, the information wasn’t worth much, such as when little was at stake.

For the most part, the study subjects made rational choices based on the economic value of the information (how much money it could help them win). But that didn’t explain all their choices: People tended to over-value information in general, and particularly in higher-valued lotteries. It appeared that the higher stakes increased people’s curiosity in the information, even when the information had no effect on their decisions whether to play.

The researchers determined that this behavior could only be explained by a model that captured both economic and psychological motives for seeking information. People acquired information based not only on its actual benefit, but also on the anticipation of its benefit, whether or not it had use.

Hsu says that’s akin to wanting to know whether we received a great job offer, even if we have no intention of taking it. “Anticipation serves to amplify how good or bad something seems, and the anticipation of a more pleasurable reward makes the information appear even more valuable,” he says.

Common neural code for information and money

How does the brain respond to information? Analyzing the fMRI scans, the researchers found that the information about the games’ odds activated the regions of the brain specifically known to be involved in valuation (the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex or VMPFC), which are the same dopamine-producing reward areas activated by food, money, and many drugs. This was the case whether the information was useful, and changed the person’s original decision, or not.

Next, the researchers were able to determine that the brain uses the same neural code for information about the lottery odds as it does for money by using a machine learning technique (called support vector regression). That allowed them to look at the neural code for how the brain responds to varying amounts of money, and then ask if the same code can be used to predict how much a person will pay for information. It can.

In other words, just as we can convert such disparate things as a painting, a steak dinner, and a vacation into a dollar value, the brain converts curiosity about information into the same common code it uses for concrete rewards like money, Hsu says.

“We can look into the brain and tell how much someone wants a piece of information, and then translate that brain activity into monetary amounts,” he says.

Raising questions about digital addiction

While the research does not directly address overconsumption of digital information, the fact that information engages the brain’s reward system is a necessary condition for the addiction cycle, he says. And it explains why we find those alerts saying we’ve been tagged in a photo so irresistible.

“The way our brains respond to the anticipation of a pleasurable reward is an important reason why people are susceptible to clickbait,” he says. “Just like junk food, this might be a situation where previously adaptive mechanisms get exploited now that we have unprecedented access to novel curiosities.”

How information is like snacks, money, and drugs—to your brain

A tetraplegic man has been able to move all four of his paralyzed limbs by using a brain-controlled robotic suit, researchers have said.

The 28-year-old man from Lyon, France, known as Thibault, was paralyzed from the shoulders down after falling 40 feet from a balcony, severing his spinal cord, the AFP news agency reported.

He had some movement in his biceps and left wrist, and was able to operate a wheelchair using a joystick with his left arm.

Researchers from the University of Grenoble in France, biomedical research center Clinatec and the CEA research center implanted recording devices on either side of Thibault’s head, between the brain and skin, to span the sensorimotor cortex — the area of the brain that controls motor function and sensation.

Electrode grids collected the man’s brain signals and transmitted them to a decoding algorithm, which translated the signals into movements and commanded a robotic exoskeleton to complete them.

Over a period of two years, Thibault trained the algorithm to understand his thoughts by controlling an avatar — a virtual character — within a video game, making it walk and touch 2D and 3D objects.

He trained on simple virtual simulations before using the exoskeleton — which is assisted by a ceiling-mounted harness — to eventually walk, and reach for targets with his arms.

Over the course of the study, Thibault covered a total of 145 meters (around 476 feet) with 480 steps using the avatar, video and exoskeleton combined, researchers said in the study, which was published in the Lancet Neurology journal on Friday.

Scientists have said that the technology is an experimental treatment for now, but once improved, it could have the potential to improve patients’ lives.

“I can’t go home tomorrow in my exoskeleton, but I’ve got to a point where I can walk. I walk when I want and I stop when I want,” Thibault told AFP.

“Our findings could move us a step closer to helping tetraplegic patients to drive computers using brain signals alone, perhaps starting with driving wheelchairs using brain activity instead of joysticks and progressing to developing an exoskeleton for increased mobility,” Professor Stephan Chabardes, a neurosurgeon from Grenoble University Hospital and author of the study, said in a press release.

The team has recruited three more patients to the trial, and aims to allow patients to walk and balance without using a ceiling suspension system in the next phase of the research.


Two strategies for choosing a parking spot save far more time than a third, according to researchers’ estimates.

Physicists have compared three typical strategies for finding a parking spot to determine which saves the most time — at least in a highly simplified parking scenario.

Paul Krapivsky at Boston University in Massachusetts and Sidney Redner at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico modelled an idealized car park in which the parking spots are in a single row between the entrance to the park and the drivers’ ultimate destination, such as a building.

An ‘optimistic’ strategy, which aims to minimize the time spent walking, is to drive straight to the destination and then backtrack to find a spot. Drivers using a ‘meek’ strategy try to reduce the time spent driving by picking the spot immediately before the first parked car that they come across. An intermediate, or ‘prudent’, strategy is to park in the first encountered gap between two cars.

The authors calculated that the prudent strategy is on average slightly more efficient — in terms of time spent walking and driving — than the optimistic one; the meek strategy was a distant third. Still, even the prudent strategy left many good spots near the target empty.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02903-y?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=c699f7417d-briefing-dy-20190927&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-c699f7417d-44039353