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Sorry Wrong Number: A Basis In Reality February 17, 2010

One of the less cheery films that we as a family like – because it reminds us of some of our relatives – is Sorry, Wrong Number, a 1948 noir film with Barbara Stanwyck.  As a young girl, the Stanwyck character has heart palpitations, or many of the symptoms of a heart attack, when she does not get what she wants; and unfortunately, when this happens, she does get what she wants, and is positively reinforced.  By the end of the film, even though she has nothing organically wrong with her, she finds herself a semi-cripple, which works greatly to her disadvantage when she figures out that she is on tap to be murdered.

Well, the Wall Street Journal recently had a story and a video on a condition that the Japanese call takotsubo, or octopus trap, in which the left ventricle of the heart, under physical or emotional stress, froze in a shape like a Japanese octopus trap.  (It is not clear to me whether anyone actually dies of this, but they lose consciousness and display many symptoms similar to that of a heart attack.  A true heart attack is triggered by an obstruction of the blood flow to the heart muscle itself.)  I wondered whether the medical professionals, either Japanese or American, had ever seen the movie!  And I wonder if a proclivity to takotsubo syndrome can be encouraged by rewarding people who display it!  That would be an interesting bit of research.

Related: “Hearts Actually Can Break” by WSJ Online
Video: “News Hub: Why You Can Die of a Broken Heart” WSJ Online

2 Comments
SteveB7SFG 02/18/2010

Another great article Howard, actually I like that movie as well. Look forward to a Japanese/American research team doing a takotsubo paper. All the best,

curt.deckert 02/20/2010

The research you mentioned could present high risk if subjects knew a lot about the condition. It would also be difficult to get test subjects. There may be unpublished research data from doctors, hospitals, hospice, or even death camps. Environments surrounding the person with the condition probably have a lot to to bringing it on.

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