Posts Tagged ‘death’



Researchers found that a black-box algorithm predicted patient death better than humans.

They used ECG results to sort historical patient data into groups based on who would die within a year.

Although the algorithm performed better, scientists don’t understand how or why it did.

Albert Einstein’s famous expression “spooky action at a distance” refers to quantum entanglement, a phenomenon seen on the most micro of scales. But machine learning seems to grow more mysterious and powerful every day, and scientists don’t always understand how it works. The spookiest action yet is a new study of heart patients where a machine-learning algorithm decided who was most likely to die within a year based on echocardiogram (ECG) results, reported by New Scientist.

The algorithm performed better than the traditional measures used by cardiologists. The study was done by researchers in Pennsylvania’s Geisinger regional healthcare group, a low-cost and not-for-profit provider.

Much of machine learning involves feeding complex data into computers that are better able to examine it really closely. To analogize to calculus, if human reasoning is a Riemann sum, machine learning may be the integral that results as the Riemann calculation approaches infinity. Human doctors do the best they can with what they have, but whatever the ECG algorithm is finding in the data, those studying the algorithm can’t reverse engineer what it is.

The most surprising axis may be the number of people cardiologists believed were healthy based on normal ECG results: “The AI accurately predicted risk of death even in people deemed by cardiologists to have a normal ECG,” New Scientist reports.

To imitate the decision-making of individual cardiologists, the Geisinger team made a parallel algorithm out of the factors that cardiologists use to calculate risk in the accepted way. It’s not practical to record the individual impressions of 400,000 real human doctors instead of the results of the algorithm, but that level of granularity could show that cardiologists are more able to predict poor outcomes than the algorithm indicates.

It could also show they perform worse than the algorithm—we just don’t know. Head to head, having a better algorithm could add to doctors’ human skillset and lead to even better outcomes for at-risk patients.

Machine learning experts use a metric called area under the curve (AUC) to measure how well their algorithm can sort people into different groups. In this case, researchers programmed the algorithm to decide which people would survive and which would die within the year, and its success was measured in how many people it placed in the correct groups. This is why future action is so complicated: People can be misplaced in both directions, leading to false positives and false negatives that could impact treatment. The algorithm did show an improvement, scoring 85 percent versus the 65 to 80 percent success rate of the traditional calculus.

As in other studies, one flaw in this research is that the scientists used past data where the one-year window had finished. The data set is closed and scientists can directly compare their results to a certain outcome. There’s a difference—and in medicine it’s an ethical one—between studying closed data and using a mysterious, unstudied mechanism to change how we treat patients today.

Medical research faces the same ethical hurdles across the board. What if intervening based on machine learning changes outcomes and saves lives? Is it ever right to treat one group of patients better than a control group that receives less effective care? These obstacles make a big difference in how future studies will pursue the results of this study. If the phenomenon of better prediction holds up, it may be decades before patients are treated differently.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/a29762613/ai-predict-death-health/

By Steven Reinberg

Loneliness can take a heavy toll on heart patients — including a higher risk of death in the year after hospitalization, researchers found.

“This study confirms what has also been indicated in previous research regarding the serious health consequences of loneliness,” said lead researcher Anne Vinggaard Christensen, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.

“Loneliness should be considered a serious risk factor in patients with cardiac disease and should be included in risk evaluation of patients,” added Christensen, who is with the hospital’s heart center.

The Danish researchers cautioned, however, that their findings can’t prove that loneliness caused people to die, only that loneliness and the risk of death appear to be connected. But the differences in mortality between those who felt lonely and those who didn’t can’t be explained by their medical condition alone, they said.

Loneliness is a subjective experience, one that is distressing and unpleasant, the researchers noted.

The connection between loneliness and health is complex, Christensen said.

People who are lonely or socially isolated tend to have more unhealthy lifestyles. They smoke more, are less likely to be physically active and don’t take their medication, she said.

“Having a social network helps motivate people to make healthier choices,” Christensen said. “A social network can act as a buffer for stress.”

Also, lonely people have been found to have higher levels of stress hormones and lower immune function, she added.

“These different pathways are interconnected and help us understand why people feeling lonely or socially isolated experience worse health,” Christensen said.

James Maddux is a professor emeritus in the department of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Reviewing the findings, he took issue with the study’s methodology.

“My major concern about the methodology is that their measure of loneliness is rather weak and is not consistent with most studies about loneliness that I am familiar with,” Maddux said. He explained that the question used to measure loneliness failed to capture loneliness “as a profound sense of isolation and disconnected from others, accompanied by sadness and a longing to be with others. In other words, loneliness is painful.”

Still, even in its flawed state, the new study “adds to the growing research on the perils of social isolation among people in general and among older adults over 60 in particular,” said Maddux. “These results help reaffirm what we’ve learned so far about how unhealthy social isolation can be.”

For the study, Christensen and her colleagues collected data on more than 13,400 heart patients after they left the hospital from 2013 to 2014. Their average age was in the mid-60s.

Participants completed questionnaires on their health, psychological well-being, quality of life and levels of anxiety and depression.

Compared to people who didn’t feel lonely, those who said they were lonely were nearly three times more likely to be anxious and depressed and have a lower quality of life, the researchers found.

A year later, Christensen’s team found that feeling lonely had a significant impact on participants’ health.

Regardless of other factors, lonely women were nearly three times more likely to die than women who weren’t lonely, and lonely men were more than twice as likely to die, the researchers found.

Living alone, however, is not necessarily equal to feeling lonely, and it was linked to a lower risk of depression and anxiety than living with others.

But among men, living alone was tied with a 39% greater risk for poor heart health. This may be because men tend not to have an extensive support network after divorce or death of a spouse, compared with women, the researchers noted.

“Loneliness can have many causes and can occur even if you have people around you,” Christensen said.

For some, it would help to have a family member who remembers to ask how they are doing and is ready to listen, she said.

“For others, help with practical things might be what they need, and for some, the opportunity to talk to other patients who have gone through the same thing is helpful,” Christensen said.

She also stressed that the effects of loneliness are not confined to heart disease. “It’s also [detrimental] for individuals who do not suffer from an illness. Loneliness seems to be damaging to your health no matter what,” Christensen said.

The report was published online Nov. 4 in the journal Heart.

https://consumer.healthday.com/cardiovascular-health-information-20/misc-stroke-related-heart-news-360/risks-mount-for-lonely-hearts-after-cardiac-surgery-751879.html

By Jonathan Lambert

If you’re looking for motivation to take up running, perhaps this will help. A new study finds that people who run as little as once a week have a lower risk of early death compared with people who don’t run at all.

In fact, any amount of running was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of premature death. And researchers found no evidence that running more alters that number significantly, according to a new meta-analysis published November 4 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“This is good news for the many adults who find it hard to find time for exercise,” says Elaine Murtagh, an exercise physiologist at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, Ireland, who was not involved in the study. “Any amount of running is better than none.”

While this conclusion might seem obvious to runners, the science has been fairly mixed, says public health researcher Željko Pedišić of Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. “Some studies found a significant benefit of running, but others did not,” he says.

Also unclear was whether the duration or intensity of running mattered. Researchers who study the effects of running think about the activity in terms of doses, as though it were itself a medicine. Pedišić says that while it might make sense that more running would yield greater health benefits, some studies have sparked debate by suggesting that higher levels of running — more than 250 minutes a week — could actually negate any benefits in terms of mortality.

Pedišić and his colleagues tried to make sense of these conflicting findings by pooling and reanalyzing data from previous studies, an approach known as a meta-analysis. They settled on 14 previously published studies, which collectively asked 232,149 participants about their running habits and then tracked their health over a period of time from 5 ½ to 35 years.

Over the course of each study a total of 25,951 participants died, allowing the researchers to look for statistical associations between running and risk of death.

The researchers found that runners, even those who reported running as infrequently as once a month, had a 27 percent reduced risk of death from any cause compared with non-runners. Each study differed slightly in how they defined a runner, making it difficult to say exactly how little running is necessary for a benefit, though Pedišić says taking just a few strides a week is almost certainly not enough.

Still, the lower risk of early death was more or less the same across all running doses, from running no more than once a week for less than 50 minutes to running every day for a weekly total of 250 minutes. “All these doses of running are significantly associated with lower risk of death,” Pedišić says. “There was no significant difference between frequency, duration or pace,”

“Not finding a trend does not mean that the trend does not exist,” Pedišić cautions. A trend could be too small to be detected within the sample size. Studying the health effects of heavy running can be difficult because there aren’t many people who run that much, he says.

While more evidence is needed to determine if there is an upper limit to how much running is beneficial, this study fits with other research finding health benefits for any level of activity, says Angelique Brellenthin, a kinesiologist at Iowa State University in Ames who was not involved in the study, “Any amount of physical activity that you can fit into your schedule is good for you,” she says.

Running just once a week may help you outpace an early death


Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin pose for a photo in 2013.

By Scottie Andrew

Alexei Leonov, the first person to perform a spacewalk, died this week. He was 85.

Russian space agency Roscosmos Space Corporation announced his passing Friday. State news agency RIA-Novosti reported he’d been chronically ill before his death.

Though Leonov wasn’t the first man on the moon (a goal he wasn’t shy about), he earned his own “first” in the space race between the US and Soviet Union. On March 18, 1965, he embarked on the first spacewalk, spending 12 minutes outside the Voskhod 2 capsule.

The first American to walk in space, Ed White, wouldn’t do so until June that same year.

On the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975, Leonov met with US astronauts in space and gave TV viewers tours of their respective crafts, the first time Soviet and US cosmonauts collaborated in space. The mission is credited with kick-starting eventual international cooperation aboard the International Space Station.

Leonov was also a celebrated artist who brought colored pencils to space to sketch the view of Earth. His drawing of the sunrise is considered the first piece of art created in space.

His funeral will be held October 15 at Mytishchi Military Memorial cemetery outside Moscow.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/11/world/alexei-leonov-first-spacewalk-death-scn-trnd/index.html

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 Alice Park

While death is inevitable, knowing when it will come isn’t necessarily, and scientists have been trying to develop a test that could reliably and easily predict how long a person will live — or, more technically, how healthy they are and therefore how vulnerable they might be to major mortality risk factors. Blood tests are the most likely avenue to such a test, since it’s easy to obtain blood samples and labs equipped to handle them are common.

The latest effort is described in a new paper published in Nature Communications, by a team led by Joris Deelen, postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Aging and P. Eline Slagboom, head of molecular epidemiology at Leiden University Medical Center. The researchers report that, in a group of more than 44,000 healthy patients, their blood test was around 80% accurate in predicting mortality risk within five to 10 years.

The patients, who ranged in age from 18 to 109 years, provided blood samples and had their health events tracked for up to 16 years. The researchers analyzed a group of 226 so-called metabolites, or by-products of things that various cells and tissues in the body pour into the blood stream for circulation and removal. From this collection of markers, the team narrowed down the list to 14 that they determined could together, and along with the person’s sex, provide a pretty good picture of each person’s health risk, and, by association, their risk of dying in the next five to 10 years. They accomplished this by comparing those who died during the study to those who did not and isolating which agents in their blood differed to statistically significant amounts. The link between the final 14 factors and mortality remained strong even after the scientists accounted for potential confounding factors that also affect survival such as age, sex, and cause of death.

“We want to tackle the vulnerability of people’s health that is hidden and that doctors cannot see from the outside,” says Slagboom. “I am still surprised by the fact that in a group of people you can take one blood sample at one point of time in their life, and that would say anything meaningful about their five to 10 year mortality risk.”

Both Deelen and Slagboom stress that the test is not ready yet for doctors to use in the clinic with their patients, but that it does establish a foundation for one down the road. An eventual test could be most useful at first in assessing older patients and guiding treatment decisions, since the 14 metabolites represent a range of processes including the breakdown of fat and glucose, inflammation and fluid balance in the body, that impact a range of chronic ailments, as well as a person’s ability to recover from illness or injury.

Researchers at Leiden University are currently studying the test to see if it can help doctors predict which patients with hip fractures are more likely to develop complications during their recovery after surgery. Another study is looking at whether the test can predict which people with kidney failure are more likely to develop dementia or side effects like delirium as a result of their treatment; this information could help doctors to better adjust dosage and treatment decisions.

The researchers are also hoping to work with large databanks around the world to further validate the findings. “We see this as a foundation,” says Slagboom, “we do not see this test as an endpoint.”

https://time.com/5656767/blood-test-longevity/

Peter Mayhew, the towering actor who donned a huge, furry costume to give life to the rugged-and-beloved character of Chewbacca in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and two other films, has died, his family said Thursday.

Mayhew died at his home in north Texas on Tuesday, according to a family statement. He was 74. No cause was given.

As Chewbacca, known to his friends as Chewie, the 7-foot-3 Mayhew was a fierce warrior with a soft heart, loyal sidekick to Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon.

Mayhew went on to appear as the Wookiee in the 2005 prequel “Revenge of the Sith” and shared the part in 2015′s “The Force Awakens” with actor Joonas Suotamo, who took over the role in subsequent films.

“Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character,” Ford said in a statement Thursday. “These aspects of his own personality, plus his wit and grace, he brought to Chewbacca. We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him… My thoughts are with his dear wife Angie and his children. Rest easy, my dear friend.”

Mayhew defined the incredibly well-known Wookiee and became a world-famous actor for most of his life without speaking a word or even making a sound — Chewbacca’s famous roar was the creation of sound designers.

“He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films,” the family statement said. “But, to him, the ‘Star Wars’ family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.”

Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker alongside Mayhew, wrote on Twitter that he was “the gentlest of giants — A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly. I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him.”

Born and raised in England, Mayhew had appeared in just one film and was working as a hospital orderly in London when George Lucas, who shot the first film in England, found him and cast him in 1977′s “Star Wars.”

Lucas chose quickly when he saw Mayhew, who liked to say all he had to do to land the role was stand up.

“Peter was a wonderful man,” Lucas said in a statement Thursday. “He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature … and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend and I’m saddened by his passing.”

From then on, “Star Wars” would become Mayhew’s life. He made constant appearances in the costume in commercials, on TV specials and at public events. The frizzy long hair he had most of his adult life made those who saw him in real life believe he was Chewbacca, along with his stature.

His height, the result of a genetic disorder known as Marfan syndrome, was the source of constant health complications late in his life. He had respiratory problems, his speech grew limited and he often had to use scooters and wheelchairs instead of walking.

His family said his fighting through that to play the role one last time in “The Force Awakens” was a triumph.

Even after he retired, Mayhew served as an adviser to his successor Suotamo, a former Finnish basketball player who told The Associated Press last year that Mayhew put him through “Wookiee boot camp” before he played the role in “Solo.”

Mayhew spent much of the last decades of his life in the United States, and he became a U.S. citizen in 2005.

The 200-plus-year-old character whose suit has been compared to an ape, a bear, and Bigfoot, and wore a bandolier with ammunition for his laser rifle, was considered by many to be one of the hokier elements in the original “Star Wars,” something out of a more low-budget sci-fi offering.

The films themselves seemed to acknowledge this.

“Will somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way?!” Carrie Fisher, as Princess Leia, says in the original “Star Wars.” It was one of the big laugh lines of the film, as was Ford calling Chewie a “fuzzball” in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

But Chewbacca would become as enduring an element of the “Star Wars” galaxy as any other character, his roar — which according to the Atlantic magazine was made up of field recordings of bears, lions, badgers and other animals — as famous as any sound in the universe.

“Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together,” Ford said in his statement.

Mayhew is the third major member of the original cast to die in recent years. Fisher and R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker died in 2016.

Mayhew’s family said he was active with various nonprofit groups and established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which is devoted to alleviating disease, pain, suffering and the financial toll from traumatic events. The family asked that in lieu of flowers, friends and fans donate to the foundation.

Mayhew is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children. A private service will be held June 29, followed by a public memorial in early December at a Los Angeles “Star Wars” convention.

https://www.post-gazette.com/news/obituaries/2019/05/02/Peter-Mayhew-original-Chewbacca-Star-Wars-died-74/stories/201905020200