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Cigna 2017

Beatriz Martinez was exercising at the gym one day when she suddenly felt unusually breathless and a little dizzy and got a pain in her stomach.

She stopped and took a minute to breathe, which made her feel a little better. But the pain was still there. Maybe she had pushed herself too hard and pulled a muscle?

"I thought it was the exercises, a muscle ache," says Beatriz. So, she decided to call it quits for the day and drove home.


Beatriz Martinez in her home in Miami. Image via Beatriz Martinez, used with permission.

She made lunch, washed her hair, and went about the whole day like everything was normal — even though the dull ache in her stomach never really went away. That evening, she and her husband even went to a party. But at that point, the pain had gotten worse, and by the time they went home, she was vomiting and the pain had spread to her chest.

They went straight to the emergency room.

At the hospital, they ran some tests — and Beatriz was told she was having a heart attack.

One of the most important arteries in her heart, the left anterior descending (LAD), was completely blocked. "That I'm alive, it's like a miracle," she says.

She had a stent put in and she was in recovery at the hospital for six days before she was able to go home again.

Beatriz's story is not uncommon.

Heart disease is actually one of the most common causes of death for women in the United States. But in some cases, it can be prevented — which is why preventive health care is so important.

Image via iStock.

"What creates problems for people are the things that they don't know and therefore can't change," says Dr. Nicholas Gettas, a family doctor who is now a medical officer at Cigna.

With health issues, such as heart disease, it is the cumulative effect over time of risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, that can cause a problem — like a heart attack. That’s why it is important to be informed about your four health numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and body mass index (BMI).

Image via iStock.

Even if you eat well and exercise, it's still worth getting checked. "You might see a person who is thin, who exercises, whose diet appears to be great ... [but] there is some genetic issue that means that their cholesterol is still high," says Gettas. In fact, he adds, he had a patient with a similar experience.

"The earlier you identify, the earlier you can moderate and modify the issue and the more likely you are to get a better long-term result," he says.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if everyone got their recommended preventive care, we could probably save 100,000 lives in America every year.

Beatriz's experience taught her a lot about the importance of keeping an eye on her health.

Even at the hospital, when everyone was rushing around to treat her, Beatriz says she couldn't help but think they were overreacting because she still didn't think it was that serious.

"I never thought that I had anything wrong with my heart," Beatriz says. She had always thought of herself as healthy: She was active, she exercised regularly, and she wasn't overweight.

Image via iStock.

She was also unaware of something very important: The symptoms of a heart attack are often very different for women than they are for men.

Most of the heart attack indicators we hear about are actually what happens when men have a heart attack — such as the left arm going numb or the obvious severe chest pain. In women, heart attack symptoms can be more subtle, as Beatriz experienced:

  • The pain isn't always in the chest. It can be in the neck, jaw, upper back, or stomach region.
  • Sometimes it just feels like a bad case of indigestion.
  • Other times it just causes shortness of breath — which is sometimes mistaken as a panic attack — or dizziness.
  • It can also cause nausea and vomiting.

This means women are more likely to ignore their pain or downplay the symptoms, causing a dangerous delay in treatment that can be deadly. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, women often show up in emergency roomsafter heart damage has already occurred.

Image via iStock.

But there are some warning signs — Beatriz just didn’t know to look for them.

"Before I had the heart attack, I felt breathless a lot and had pain in my jaw, but I didn’t pay attention to that because I didn’t know that was symptoms of your heart," she says. There was also a history of heart disease in her family, she adds, "but I never thought I was going to have it in my life. I never thought it would happen to me."

Beatriz wants other women to know the risk factors for heart disease before a health incident makes them all too aware of it.

She has gotten involved with the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and has become a WomenHeart Champion. She wants to spread awareness about heart health and the symptoms of heart disease to women across the United States. And she wants to encourage them to take control of their health before they ever get sick.

Image via Beatriz Martinez, used with permission.

It has been almost five years since Beatriz had her heart attack, and she says she's come a long way in terms of taking control of her health.

She started on medication and a special diet immediately after the heart attack. And now, not only does she go to the gym, but she also does aerobics three times a week, and she works with a personal trainer three hours a week. With the help of her doctor, she also keeps close tabs on her four health numbers. And now that Martinez has taken control, her health has never been better.

"I went to my cardiologist [recently] and he said that now, my cholesterol numbers are excellent, my blood sugar is excellent — my numbers are excellent," she says.

Beatriz says that the one thing her heart attack taught her was that she can’t become complacent about her health. "You can die if you don't take care of yourself," she says.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

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Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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