Those in Their 80s, Ceteris Paribus, Less Likely to Be Offered Bypass Surgery

(p. B6) A U.S. study out Wednesday finds that heart attack patients who turned 80 within the previous two weeks were less likely to get bypass surgery than those who were two weeks shy of that birthday, even though the age difference is less than a month.

Guidelines do not limit the operation after a certain age, but doctors may be mentally classifying people as being “in their 80s” and suddenly much riskier than those “in their 70s,” said the study leader, Dr. Anupam Jena of Harvard Medical School.

. . .

Death rates during the first two months after the heart attack were higher among those over 80, suggesting they might have been harmed by not being offered surgery, Jena said.

For the full story, see:

Marilynn Marchione / The Associated Press. “80 Is Not the New 70: Study Finds That Your Age May Bias Heart Care.” The Omaha World-Herald (Wednesday, February 20, 2020): 3A.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the same date as the print version, and has the title “80 Is Not the New 70: Age May Bias Heart Care, Study Finds.” Where there are slight differences in the wording of the online and print versions, the passages quoted above follow the online version.)

Daylight-Saving Time Is Bad for Brain and for Health

(p. A12) Beth Ann Malow, a professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., wrote in an opinion piece in JAMA Neurology that switching between daylight-saving time and standard time is bad for the brain. “Going back and forth is ridiculous and disruptive, it makes no sense,” said Dr. Malow, who believes permanent standard time would be healthier for all.

. . .

Muhammad Adeel Rishi, a pulmonologist and sleep physician at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Wisconsin, is the lead author of a daylight-saving time position statement that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine intends to publish this year.

About half-a-dozen studies have found a 5% to 15% increased risk of having a heart attack during the days after shifting to daylight-saving time. “It’s a preventable cause of cardiac injury,” Dr. Rishi said. One study found the opposite effect during the fall, in the days after the transition back to standard time. “So maybe the risk stays high throughout the time when we are on daylight-saving time,” he said.

For the full commentary, see:

Sumathi Reddy. “YOUR HEALTH; Why Daylight-Saving Time Is Bad for You.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, March 5, 2020): A12.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date March 4, 2020, and has the title “YOUR HEALTH; Here’s Why Health Experts Want to Stop Daylight-Saving Time.” Where there is a difference in wording in the first quoted paragraph, the online version is used.)

The opinion piece co-authored by Beth Ann Malow, and mentioned above, is:

Malow, Beth A., Olivia J. Veatch, and Kanika Bagai. “Are Daylight Saving Time Changes Bad for the Brain?” JAMA Neurology 77, no. 1 (2020): 9-10.

Open Offices Speed Spread of Covid-19

(p. B6) After years of squeezing ever more workers into tighter office spaces, companies are realizing how efficiently the modern workspace can spread diseases like the coronavirus.

Cubicles and private offices have made way for open floors, where a sneeze or cough can circulate uninterrupted.  . . .

Between 2018 and 2019, the average office space per seat in North America declined by 14.3% to 195.6 square feet, according to brokerage firm JLL’s 2020 Occupancy Benchmarking Report.

Many companies also have abolished assigned seating, rotating workers through the office. That means workers in many offices are now more likely to touch surfaces contaminated by others.

. . .

In a study of more than 1,800 Swedish office workers that was published in 2014, a group of researchers from Stockholm University found that open-plan offices lead to more sick leaves. Among the possible explanations is that these offices can be more stressful, and risk of infection may be greater. The study also found that offices without assigned desks lead to more extended sick leaves, but only among men.

For the full story, see:

Konrad Putzier. “Open Offices Spur Virus Worries.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, MARCH 11, 2020): B6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 10, 2020, and has the title “Your Open-Floor Office Could Help Spread Coronavirus.”)

At Nonprofit Hospitals Revenue Rises and Charity Care Falls

(p. 7) On paper, the average value of community benefits for all nonprofits about equals the value of the tax exemption, but there is tremendous variation among individual hospitals, with many falling short. There is also intense disagreement about how those community benefits are calculated and whether they actually serve the community in question.

Charity medical care is what most people think of when it comes to a community benefit, and before 1969 that was the legal requirement for hospitals to qualify for tax-exempt status. In that year, the tax code was changed to allow for a wide range of expenses to qualify as community benefits. Charitable care became optional and it was left up to the hospitals to decide how to pay back that debt. Hospitals could even declare that accepting Medicaid insurance was a community benefit and write off the difference between the Medicaid payment and their own calculations of cost.

An analysis by Politico found that since the full Affordable Care Act coverage expansion, which brought millions more paying customers into the field, revenue in the top seven nonprofit hospitals (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report) increased by 15 percent, while charity care — the most tangible aspect of community benefit — decreased by 35 percent.

. . .

The average chief executive’s package at nonprofit hospitals is worth $3.5 million annually. (According to I.R.S. regulations, “No part of their net earnings is allowed to inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.”) From 2005 to 2015, average chief executive compensation in nonprofit hospitals increased by 93 percent. Over that same period, pediatricians saw a 15 percent salary increase. Nurses got 3 percent.

For the full commentary, see:

Ofri, Danielle. “Nonprofit Hospitals Are Too Profitable.” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sunday, February 23, 2020): 7.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Feb. 20, 2020, and has the title “Why Are Nonprofit Hospitals So Highly Profitable.”)

The Politico article mentioned in the passages quoted above, is:

Diamond, Dan. “Health Care; How Hospitals Got Richer Off Obamacare.” Politico (Posted July 17, 2017). Available from https://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/obamacare-non-profit-hospital-taxes/.

Under Cover of Coronavirus Chaos, Chinese Communists Arrest Hong Kong Defender of Free Speech

(p. A12) HONG KONG — A Hong Kong media tycoon known for his ardent opposition to China was arrested on Friday [Feb. 28, 2020] over his role in a pro-democracy protest last year, the police said, dealing another blow to the city’s independent media.

The tycoon, Jimmy Lai, a rare figure among Hong Kong’s elite for his willingness to take on Beijing, owns Next Media Group, which publishes a popular pro-democracy newspaper and website called Apple Daily. His arrest comes as the city has been dealing with the twin shocks of the protest movement and now the coronavirus outbreak.

His singular status as a prominent businessman in Hong Kong who openly supports the democracy movement and antigovernment protests has made him a frequent target of Beijing-backed elements.

. . .

The arrests were made the same week as a court in China sentenced a Hong Kong bookseller, Gui Minhai, to 10 years in prison. Mr. Gui sold gossipy books about China’s leaders and disappeared mysteriously in Thailand in 2015 and later emerged as a target of China’s effort to quell dissent.

For the full story, see:

Elaine Yu. “Media Baron Is Arrested Over Protests In Hong Kong.” The New York Times (Saturday, February 29, 2020): A12.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 28, 2020, and has the title “Jimmy Lai, Hong Kong Media Baron, Is Arrested Over Role in Protests.”)

“Good Stress” Causes “a Burst of Energy That Focuses the Mind”

(p. A27) It was a staple of medical thinking dating to the 1910s that stress was the body’s alarm system, switching on only when terrible things happened, often leaving a person with an either-or choice: fight or flight.

The neuroscientist Bruce S. McEwen trailblazed a new way of thinking about stress. Beginning in the 1960s, he redefined it as the body’s way of constantly monitoring daily challenges and adapting to them.

Dr. McEwen, who died on Jan. 2 [2020] at 81, described three forms of stress: good stress — a response to an immediate challenge with a burst of energy that focuses the mind; transient stress — a response to daily frustrations that resolve quickly; and chronic stress — a response to a toxic, unrelenting barrage of challenges that eventually breaks down the body.

For the full obituary, see:

Randi Hutter Epstein. “Bruce McEwen, Who Discovered That Stress Can Alter the Brain, Dies at 81.” The New York Times (Tuesday, February 11, 2020): A27.

(Note: bracketed year added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Feb. 10, 2020, and has the title “Bruce McEwen, 81, Is Dead; Found Stress Can Alter the Brain.”)

Chinese Communist “Tradition” of Local Officials Lying to Please Beijing Central Planners

(p. A27) There is a tradition in China (and likely much of the world) for local authorities not to report bad news to their superiors. During the Great Leap Forward, local officials reported exaggerated harvest yields even as millions were starving. More recently, officials in Henan Province denied there was an epidemic of AIDS spread through unsanitary blood collection practices.

For the full commentary, see:

Elisabeth Rosenthal. “Why Is Data on Coronavirus So Limited?” The New York Times (Saturday, February 29, 2020): A27.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Feb. 28, 2020, and has the title “Sanders Is Stirring Cold War Angst. Young Voters Say, So What?.”)