Mega-storms such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria disrupt uncounted lives and leave psychological scars that can last for decades and recur every hurricane season. Experts who have tracked survivors of Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago explain what survivors of new storms can expect in their lives.
Dr. Howard Osofsky, Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Dr. Thomas Hauth, Medical Director, Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority
When a person suffers a severe emotional shock, they may suffer what looks like a heart attack but is actually what doctors call “stress cardiomyopathy.” Most patients recover but the condition can be fatal, confirming that it is possible to die of a broken heart. An expert explains.
Dr. Tracy Stevens, cardiologist, St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO
A number of studies have found that people who drink diet soda end up gaining more weight than people who drink higher-calorie beverages. Now a study in the journal “Current Biology” explains why. Researchers say that a food’s sweet taste is just as important as its calorie count as far as your metabolism is concerned. In most foods, sweetness indicates high energy, but in artificially-sweetened foods there’s a mismatch, so the brain is confused. Diet foods trigger the metabolism to run as if the food contains many more calories.
Pregnant women who contract a fever in their first trimester have a risk of delivering a child with heart defects or facial deformities. Researchers have known of a connection for years, but didn’t know if fever itself was the cause or the virus or infection that caused it. Now a study in the journal “Science Signaling” concludes it’s the fever. Doctors say acetaminophen is safe for pregnant women so they shouldn’t hesitate to consider taking it to reduce fever.
And finally, science has come up with an answer as to whether cats or dogs are smarter, and the answer won’t please cat owners. A study in the journal “Frontiers in Neuroanatomy” finds that dogs have significantly more neurons in their brains, the “little gray cells” associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviors. Dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons, researchers say, while cats have about 250 million. that compares with about 16 billion in people.