Beats Going To Work

By Scott LaFee

August 9, 2017 5 min read

If your regular workday involves long hours, you may be at greater risk of an irregular heartbeat. Researchers reviewed health data from more than 85,000 individuals participating in longitudinal studies. They divided them into groups based on hours they worked. None of the patients had been diagnosed with an irregular heart rhythm — atrial fibrillation — at the start of their studies.

The scientists found that 10 years into the studies, persons who worked 55 hours or more each week were 40 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than those who worked 35 to 40 hours. Caveat: The findings indicate an association, not cause-and-effect.

Pay Doc'ed

The average medical school student graduates nearly $200,000 in debt, which no doubt is a consideration when students choose which medical specialty to pursue. Physician paychecks vary a lot. At the top pay scale are orthopedic surgeons, who can earn more than $450,000 a year. At the bottom: pediatricians and family medicine practitioners at a comparative paltry $200,000 or so.

Of course, as Zach Nayer at STAT notes, there's a high opportunity cost. Medical students must endure four years of basic training to get their MD, then three to six more years of residency, followed by perhaps a year or two of fellowships. An orthopedic surgeon or a neurologist might not hit peak salary until a decade after graduating with his or her degree.

Body of Knowledge

The human brain operates on only 10 watts of energy, less than a refrigerator light.

Get Me That, Stat!

More than 2 billion people in the world don't have access to safe, clean water at home, according the World Health Organization. An estimated 361,000 kids under age 5 die each year due to diarrhea resulting from unsanitary conditions. Roughly 2.3 billion people don't have access to basic sanitation services, such as a toilet.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of scrubbing the bathtub on your hands and knees burns 258 calories (based on a 150-pound person or the equivalent of almost half of a Big Mac. Of course, if it takes you an hour to scrub the tub, you probably deserve the whole thing.

Stories for the Waiting Room

A couple of Revolutionary War-era amputation kits once owned by Continental Army surgeon Dr. John Warren, who would later Harvard Medical School, went up for auction, but they'll cost an arm and a leg. Estimated value was at least $50,000.

Doc Talk

Stork mark: an impermanent blemish on the skin of a newborn baby

Phobia of the Week

Hodophobia: fear of road travel

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for salted butter is 7 quarter-pound sticks in 5 minutes, held by Don Lerman. Records do not indicate Lerman's margarine of victory over the competition.

Best Medicine

Patient: Doc, my stomach sure is getting big.

Doctor: Maybe you should diet.

Patient: Really! What color?

Observation

"Two babies were born on the same day at the same hospital. They lay there and looked at each other. Their families came and took them away. Eighty years later, by a bizarre coincidence, they lay in the same hospital, on their deathbeds, next to each other. One of them looked at the other and said, 'So what did you think?'"

—Comedian Steven Wright

Medical History

This week in 1865, Dr. Joseph Lister became the first surgeon to perform an antiseptic operation by liberally employing carbolic acid (phenol) as a disinfectant. Lister had studied Louis Pasteur's germ theory of disease, which suggested that infections are caused by bacteria. Lister knew carbolic acid had been effective in treating sewage and decided to try using it to kill germs that might infect wounds. He poured it on bandages, ligatures instruments and directly on the wound and hands. His first patient was 12-year-old James Greenlees who had broken his leg. Greenlees' dressing was soaked with carbolic acid and linseed oil; no infection occurred.

Self Exam

Q: Paper cuts are painful, but which of these is not a reason for the pain?

a) Paper leaves trace elements in the wound.

b) The location of most paper cuts (the hand) is commonly used, making it more prone to being painful.

c) Nerve endings are concentrated in a relatively small surface area.

d) Nerve endings in your hand are the largest in the body.

A: d.

Final Words

"Thank God. I'm tired of being the funniest person in the room."

—Improvisational comic Del Close (1934-1999)

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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