Health Buzz: Examining In-Flight Medical Emergencies

Female breadwinners and love in a new economy; Plus, which comes first: depression or weight gain?

Wear your luggage? Here are some offbeat saving strategies for air travelers
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Fainting, Lightheadedness, Respiratory Symptoms and Nausea are Most Common Culprits of In-Flight Medical Emergencies

Lightheadedness and cardiac arrest are concerning issues at any altitude, but they can be especially frightening when flying tens of thousands of feet above sea level. But these in-flight emergencies do happen, and researchers investigated the occurrences in a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. For more than two years, researchers tracked the calls to a medical communications center from five domestic and international airlines, which represent approximately 10 percent of flight passenger volume worldwide. They estimate a rate of 16 medical emergencies per 1 million passengers, and about one emergency per 604 flights. The most common emergencies, which made up about 38 percent of the total, were those categorized as syncope or presyncope (loss of consciousness, blacking out and feeling lightheaded). Respiratory symptoms, nausea and vomiting were also fairly common emergencies. For about a third of all sick passengers, their issues were resolved before landing. Others – often those with cardiac arrest, stroke-like, obstetrical or genealogical or cardiac symptoms – were transported to a hospital among landing. Researchers recorded 36 deaths – 30 of which occurred in flight.

In many situations, passengers with medical expertise were able to help those in need. The study authors write: "On the basis of our findings, we believe that airline passengers who are health care professionals should be aware of their potential role as volunteer responders to in-flight emergencies."

Female Breadwinners and Love in a New Economy

The great American conundrum of how to manage work and home life became national conversation Wednesday with the news that a record number of women are their family's primary provider.

Among these "Breadwinner Moms," the title of the report by Pew Research Center, 63 percent are single and 37 percent are married; in both cases, the statistics stem from more women in the workplace, Pew states.

Amid such major socio-economic shifts, men and women are re-orienting their roles and, at times, expectations to make their unions work in the new economy. For some couples, it's simply an updated approach to meeting the demands of modern life. [Read more: Female Breadwinners and Love in a New Economy]

Which Comes First: Depression or Weight Gain?

For many people, weight is depressing, writes U.S. News blogger Yoni Freedhoff. Whether consequent to society's hateful weight biases, which expose individuals with obesity to mood-killing bullying, scorn and discrimination, or to personally held beliefs and attitudes, there's little doubt that weight is often a huge psychological burden.

There's little doubt, too, that those who struggle with both weight and depression often feel a tight relationship between them, that their depression would lift were they to lose weight. And for some it does.

A recent meta-analysis of the impact of intentional non-pharmacologic weight-loss programs on depression revealed that indeed weight loss is associated with an improvement in mood. But that's not the whole story. And so, before you rush out and join a weight-loss program, you need to know that the mood benefits shown occurred in folks enrolled in behavioral weight-loss programs, regardless of whether or not they lost weight. In other words, it wasn't the losing that was helping mood, it was something else. [Read more: Which Comes First: Depression or Weight Gain?]

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