Daughter Of The Revolution ?

;They say you can't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. Andrew Batten has just walked not one but nine miles in the sort of shoes that American soldiers wore during the Revolutionary War--hard-soled, hobnailed, lacking arch supports or padding. Boots like that pinch the feet after blocks, let alone miles. And he's been trudging in them for hours, all the while toting the musket and bayonet of an 18th-century Continental Army soldier. As the bone-chilling cold seeps through his...

The Survivor's Story

Robert Tools Had A Foot In The Grave When He Volunteered To Receive The World's First Fully Implantable Artificial Heart. Now He's Talking About Fishing Again

Meeting Robert Tools

I did not know the patient's name or anything about his life. We were, in fact, complete strangers. Yet from the moment I heard about the groundbreaking surgery in which he became the first recipient of the AbioCor artificial heart, I felt a connection to the anonymous man.I'd been following preparations for the first implant for several months. Then, just days after the surgery, Dr. Laman Gray Jr. at Louisville's Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville told me that the patient had...

A Million Amazing Beats

The patient, a man in his mid- to late 50s, was about as sick as it's possible to be--and that just may have saved his life. He was in end-stage heart failure, his lungs filling with fluid, barely able to eat or walk a few steps. Chronic kidney failure ruled him out for a human-heart transplant; the 2,000 or so that are available each year are reserved for patients with better prognoses. When the patient was admitted to Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky., on June 27, cardiac surgeon Laman Gray...

Nourishing Your Brain

It's no secret that the fats in fish and walnuts are good for your heart.  New research suggests they may also ward off depression and mental maladies.

What About Hamburger?

The chances of getting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are very small. So far, U.S. officials believe no one here has contracted the disease from eating beef. But given CJD's deadly nature and the fact that scientists are still unraveling its mysteries, consumers may be uneasy. Here are answers to some common questions:Should I stop eating beef?That depends on your level of risk tolerance. You can't contract variant CJD (the human form of mad-cow disease) unless you eat meat from an infected...

Soda Pop That Packs A Punch

So there's this dude named Mike, and he goes, "Lemonade is good and all, but I bet it tastes better with alcohol." He squeezes a bunch of lemons, adds some sugar and malt liquor. Then he carbonates the stuff and sticks it in a bottle. Mike's totally casual about it, but everybody loves his brew so much that success sort of sneaks up on him "like a windshield sneaks up on a bug." That's what it says on the six-pack. It used to say this stuff is reallygreat--"as in when you die and go to heaven...

A Hidden Health Hazard

Deena Karabell had lived in her New York City apartment for 15 years, so when she fell ill in 1983, she never suspected that her apartment itself could be to blame. Over the next 15 years she grew progressively weaker. Finally, in the spring of 1998, she lost 30 pounds and went into anaphylactic shock three times. She literally lay dying in her bedroom when a hired nurse noticed a strong odor of mold in the closet. Suddenly things clicked. Karabell's family moved her out immediately. Today--at...

A Certain Bittersweet Comfort

As a boy, Steven Peterson of Seattle didn't worry too much about the affliction that landed his grandmother in a nursing home. Everyone's grandparents were frail. But when Peterson was only 17, his father, then 45, was diagnosed with the same disorder--a rare genetic disease called spinocerebellar ataxia. As Peterson learned all too well over the next two decades, the disease gradually destroys an area of the brain called the cerebellum, taking muscle control with it. It starts gently with...

When 'Knowledge' Does Damage

Nobody understands the promise and pitfalls of genetic testing better than Nancy Seeger, 56, of Evanston, Ill. She was only 14 years old when her mother died of breast cancer. Within five years, her mother's sister was dead of the same disease. No wonder Seeger secretly hoped that scientists would one day devise a test that could peer into her DNA and tell her whether she would meet the same fate.Then, several years ago, researchers developed such a test--for a gene defect that predisposes a...

A Revolution In Medicine

Ann Miscoi had seen her father and her uncle die of organ failure in their mid-40s, so she figured she was lucky to be living when she turned 50 last year. The trouble was, she felt half dead. Her joints ached, her hair was falling out and she was plagued by unrelenting fatigue. Her doctor assured her that nothing was seriously wrong, even after a blood test revealed unusually high iron levels, but Miscoi wasn't so sure. Scanning the Internet, she learned about a hereditary condition called...

How To Get To Your Golden Years

Tithonus, the legendary Greek warrior, had almost everything going for him. His paramour, the beautiful goddess Eos, so loved him that she persuaded Zeus to grant him eternal life. Unfortunately, she forgot to mention eternal youth. So while Eos stayed as fresh as the dawn she presided over, Tithonus spent eternity growing ever more shriveled and infirm. None of us is at serious risk of living that long, but as futurist Ken Dychtwald observes in his recent book "Age Power," the Tithonus story...

Drugstore Dangers

Teresa Vasquez was not worried when she couldn't read her husband's prescription for heart medication. Who can read a doctor's scrawl? Anyway, that was the pharmacist's job. But fate was against the Monahans, Texas, woman that day in June 1995. As it turned out, a pharmacist looked at the handwritten word "Isordil," a drug for angina, and saw instead "Plendil," a medication for high blood pressure. An unsuspecting Vasquez took the prescription home and gave it to her spouse, 42-year-old Ramon...

Dyslexia And The New Science Of Reading

The first thing Kathryn Nicholas will tell you about her 11-year-old son Jason is that he's a bright, curious kid who can build elaborate machines out of Legos and remember the code names and payloads of bombers. "He has a phenomenal desire to see how things work," she says proudly. But reading, for Jason, was a train wreck. In first grade he was assigned to special-education classes with three mildly retarded children. Two years later, despite extra help, he still couldn't decipher a sentence,...

Stress In The Skies

Over the coming four-day weekend, more than 6 million Americans will board commercial flights, a record for this typically heavy holiday. While the EgyptAir crash may continue to blanket the news, fatal crashes are the exception. Last year the death rate on U.S. carriers was zero; by contrast, over last Thanksgiving weekend alone, 598 people died on U.S. highways. And yet, even as the industry rightly touts its safety record, the Unfriendly Skies have increasingly become a source of lesser...

Dyslexia And The New Science Of Reading

The first thing Kathryn Nicholas will tell you about her 11-year-old son Jason is that he's a bright, curious kid who can build elaborate machines out of Legos and remember the code names and payloads of bombers. "He has a phenomenal desire to see how things work," she says proudly. But reading, for Jason, was a train wreck. In first grade he was assigned to special-education classes with three mildly retarded children. Two years later, despite extra help, he still couldn't decipher a sentence,...

The Perils Of Pasta

Mary Mack thought she was dying. For 11 years, the secretary from Baton Rouge, La., suffered digestive problems. Her weight dropped from 140 pounds to 110. Her hair fell out in clumps. Good teeth were coming out. Her bones ached. Doctors diagnosed ulcers, colitis, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome--everything except what was actually ailing her. Finally her aunt handed her an article on celiac disease. Mack had already noticed that she felt particularly ill when she ate certain foods,...

The Winged Menace

Dr. Deborah Asnis was perplexed. Chief of infectious diseases at Flushing Hospital in New York, she had three elderly patients in intensive care with high fevers, but they were not responding to either antibiotic or antiviral drugs. Asnis called the city health department on Aug. 23 to see if there was anything unusual going around. If there was, the city didn't know about it. But officials began interviewing patients' families in search of clues. The patients had only three things in common....

Finding The Right Rx

David Slawson was sitting at his desk one morning last February when a colleague called to tell him that one of his patients was in the emergency room, suffering from pneumonia. The patient, an otherwise healthy 43-year-old woman, was in no immediate danger, but the ER doctor wanted to hospitalize her just to be safe. Few physicians would have stopped to question whether hospital care actually benefits such a patient. But Slawson, a family practitioner at the University of Virginia, had an easy...

To Build A Cancer Cell

Human cells don't become malignant all at once. It typically takes a prolonged assault to turn them cancerous, and several genes have to go awry. But which ones? For the last two decades, biologists have been identifying many of the rogue genes in tumors. But despite repeated, frustrating attempts, they've never been able to prove that a specific combination of bad genes actually caused a malignancy. Nor have they been able to accomplish this sinister feat of creation in a laboratory. Until...

What Is Same

She was making lunch for herself and a friend one Saturday this spring when an unfamiliar feeling swept over her. The 50-year-old social worker had fallen deep into depression two years earlier, and had given up on prescription antidepressants when the first one she tried left her sluggish, sexually dormant and numb to her own emotions. Then, in mid-March, she heard about a naturally occurring substance called SAMe (pronounced "Sammy"). She had been taking it for just a few days when she began...

New Clues To The Puzzle Of Dyslexia

There's new evidence that dyslexia, a common reading disability, is caused by a problem with processing sounds in the brain. Dyslexics get confused when trying to link rapid-fire consonants like "b" and "d" to specific letters, say scientists at the University of California, San Francisco. In a study published last week, the researchers recorded brain-wave responses of adults to a series of two beeps. The dyslexics showed distinct responses to both tones--but only when there was a half-second...

Chemo In Question

For a woman, perhaps the only news worse than "you've got breast cancer" is the diagnosis "and it's spread." Hearing those words, thousands of women in the last decade have chosen aggressive, debilitating treatment--ultrahigh doses of chemotherapy, followed by a bone-marrow transplant . Common sense dictates that chemotherapy at five to 30 times the normal dose should kill more cancer cells and increase survival, but there's a worrisome lack of supporting research. Results released last week...

The Heart Of Women's Health

Back in the 1980s, says housekeeper Josephine Tucker of Martha's Vineyard, she was "a heart attack waiting to happen." She reveled in fried foods, carried more than a few extra pounds and had blood pressure and cholesterol levels high in the danger zone. She even had a family history of heart disease. Yet four doctors on 12 separate occasions dismissed her complaints of chest pain as job-related stress. They'd learned in medical school that heart disease was a man's problem. In 1990, at 50,...

Symptoms And Solutions, Defeating Breast Cancer

A CURE IS NOT AT HAND, BUT NEW APPROACHES TO PREVENTION, DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT ARE MAKING THE DISEASE LESS FEARSOME BY GEOFFREY COWLEY AND ANNE UNDERWOODIt will happen 175,000 times this year. After sampling the errant tissue that causes a lump in the breast or a speck on a mammogram, a physician will speak the dreaded words, You have cancer. "There is a whole array of emotions," says Dartmouth biochemist Constance Brinckerhoff, who had just watched her sister die of breast cancer when she...

The Ovarian Cancer Conundrum

What did comedienne Gilda Radner, singer Laura Nyro and actress Jessica Tandy have in common? All three were great performers--and all three died of ovarian cancer. Fortunately, the disease is far rarer than breast cancer. A woman's lifetime risk of developing it is only 1 in 57, versus 1 in 8 for breast cancer. But when it strikes, ovarian cancer is much deadlier. Though only 25,000 women are diagnosed each year, nearly 15,000 die. That's because just 25 percent of cases are detected early,...

Do Scopes Spread Sickness?

ONE OF THE FEW good things you can say about tuberculosis is that it doesn't spread easily. To get infected, you normally have to live or work in close quarters with someone who's acutely ill. So how did an elderly woman in Baltimore contract TB from a much younger woman she didn't even know? The two lived in different parts of the city and moved in different social circles. But within two days in 1995 both women had their lungs examined in the same hospital. In fact, as researchers later...

How The Plague Began

E ARE MORE satisfying than solving a mystery--especially if it involves 14 million deaths and has stumped the world for nearly 20 years. So imagine the satisfaction of Dr. Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. On Sunday she announced to a conference of virologists in Chicago that she'd learned the origins of HIV-1, the virus responsible for 99 percent of the world's 33 million AIDS cases. Her findings, which also appear this week in the journal Nature, confirm what...

A Little Help From Serotonin

FOR RHESUS MONKEYS, LIFE IN THE WILD IS A little like high school. Some animals--call them losers--slouch around looking aggrieved. They're volatile and bellicose, slow to form alliances and loath to reconcile after a spat. One in five dies during the passage to adulthood. But while the losers scrap over bits of chow, other animals--call them winners--stay busy grooming each other. They maintain wide networks of allies. They deflect challenges without resorting to violence, and 49 out of 50...

Surgeon, Drop That Scalpel

IT HAS BEEN A CENTURY OF MEDICAL WONDERS. Vaccines have all but vanquished such killers as polio and diphtheria. We've learned to control our moods, fertility and blood pressure with pills. And surgeons routinely fix or replace our failing joints and organs. Yet we continue to pay a high price for these marvels. Lifesaving surgery often maims and our miracle drugs cause all manner of devastating side effects. In any given year, roughly 63,000 Americans die from taking prescription drugs as...

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