Tag Archives: heart disease

Researchers Use Twitter To Determine Heart Attack Risk

I love Twitter. Besides all the conversations and the relationships I’ve built being on the platform, I love it because it’s opening itself up to new and more interesting developments that not just impact our social status but our future in so many capacities.

Sure, at some points it can be overrun with advertisements, Twitter chats, advertisements through Twitter chats, but in the end, I like it more than any other social network. Moving on, I’m sure you’ve all seen this already as it was picked up by the New York Times and now Fast Company: Your Tweets Can Tell if You’re Going To Have a Heart Attack.

LanguageWhen I saw that, I was appalled. Really? What is the reasoning behind this, I wondered. And then I thought, am I going to have a heart attack?

So I took to Penn News and read about the study that was done. Just so you know, this is a cross between psychology, computer and information science and engineering. They took the old-fashioned idea of surveys meant to measure the emotions and feelings of people and applied the theory to Twitter, drawing from the language chosen and emotional states of individuals.

Since coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, the five researchers (among them one woman) decided to see if they could show connections between emotional states and physical outcomes using Twitter.

Margaret Kern, an assistant professor and the University of Melbourne, Australia, was the one woman researcher:

“Psychological states have long been thought to have an effect on coronary heart disease,” said Kern. “For example, hostility and depression have been linked with heart disease at the individual level through biological effects. But negative emotions can also trigger behavioral and social responses; you are also more likely to drink, eat poorly and be isolated from other people which can indirectly lead to heart disease.”

So off they went, pulling a set of public tweets from 2009 to 2010, establishing “emotional dictionaries” and word clusters that showed behaviors and attitudes. The tweets sampled also came from those who allowed for geo-tagging of their tweets, coming from “1,300 counties which hold 88 percent of the country’s population.”

What they found was that if people are more prone to writing expletives and are angry in their tweets, they are CDC Twitter Mapencircled by a community full of anger, which may make them prone to dying from heart disease. Whereas using positive words protected individuals from heart disease. They seemed to find a high-level, long-term communal characteristic.

What if my life actually sucks but I like to play the fact that I’m careless and fancy free and happy on social? Well, they found that it varied from location to location– down to the zip code.

Gregory Park is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Psychology:

“Twitter seems to capture a lot of the same information that you get from health and demographic indicators,” Park said, “but it also adds something extra. So predictions from Twitter can actually be more accurate than using a set of traditional variables.”

When lined up with the CDC’s map of heart disease happenings, what this team of researchers found was that it was surprisingly accurate in the end. How cool is that? The innovation of thought process is incredible. Does this mean that the rate of diabetes can also be determined since it is closely tied to heart-disease? I wonder.

I wonder what people would be able to tell from Facebook statuses?

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Health, Research

Research Study: How Does Diabetes Affect Sleep?

Hi again and happy New Year!

It’s 2015…already. This year brings a lot of different things, like turning 30 and rethinking my life plan.

However, this is not what this blog post is about. I’m actually glad I’m getting something out in January, to tell you the truth. I’ve been busy– working, curating art, eating cleanly, working out, managing diabetes– you know the drill.

No, this blog post is about something that I went through in November of last year, the same week as World Diabetes Day. A friend told me about a research study that was happening at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The study was to observe people with Type 1 diabetes and the relationship of diabetes to sleep and cardiovascular disease.

How intense! But being the person with diabetes that I am, and a health enthusiast, you know I wanted to know more. That’s when I called Sarah. She’s a nursing student studying to get her PhD. This was part of her dissertation.

The way I understood this, when she told me, was that cardiovascular disease and diabetes are linked. If you have diabetes, either type, you have a higher risk for heart disease. This is something we know, because they tell us– over and over again. On the flip side, if you don’t sleep well you are also at risk for heart disease and diabetes. among other things.

Got that? OK.

Now, if you’re like me, you’ve had hypoglycemic episodes in the middle of the night causing you to get up, cursing the extra exercise you did or the fact that you didn’t eat enough. We’ve all been there. I’ve also had to get up repeatedly in the middle of the night to pee because of hyperglycemia. Again, disturbed sleep patterns.

Could this be an added reason as to why we are more at risk for heart disease? Because, face it, sometimes sleep is ridiculously uncontrollable like a bad day in Diabetes-land.

The aggregation of information from my body lasted three days. I went in to UIC, met Sarah, who was really cool, and chatted with her about diabetes and her studies while I filled out forms about my sleeping behavior. I think I’m a pretty good sleeper, you know?

She put me on a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) to track my blood sugars for a couple of days and then I had to spend the night at the sleep center while they monitored everything from my blood sugar to my urine to, of course, my sleep.

IMAG0666Surprisingly, my room looked like a little hotel, with an individual bathroom and a television. But of course, next to the bed sat the sleep monitors that tracked everything my brain was doing while I snored away.

The stay wasn’t bad. While I was being hooked up for monitoring, I talked to Sarah and the other sleep nurse (who was also named Sarah) about travels, books and experiences with hair during sleep studies. The glue they use to stick to your scalp is extra sticky, so there was a way the nurse lined it up making it easier to remove in the shower.

The multicolored wires were strapped and stuck to different parts of my body that included my legs, neck and head, along with a breathing monitor up my nose.

Additionally, there was another larger remote control looking thing that laid by my side instead of a teddy bear. It kept me company; I can’t complain.

IMAG0667Sarah left me while I laid in the dark, couldn’t see anything since I had taken my glasses off and (not lying) kind of wanted to sleep so that I could wake up and get it over with. I went through exercises with the nurse over the intercom and the only thing I could think about was, ‘What happens if I have to pee?’ They assured me however, that all I would have to do was yelp.

So there I was, laying in the dark, calming myself to go to sleep and I started thinking about this blog post and how what I was doing was important for the future of medicine. Along the process, Sarah took tubes of blood out of me at least three times. One of those tubes would go to research for the future of diabetes– in case they found anything unique or abnormal — but would only be tied to age, race and sex.

If those of us who have diabetes under control participate in these studies, sleep or otherwise, we could help the future of endocrinology. Think about it: we’ve had it for enough time that we’re use to it already. What if these studies lead to a cure in the not-too-far-distant future?

The next morning, I went off to do my daily routine, and said good-bye and thanked Sarah. And yes, there was compensation for the time and sleep over.

I left feeling like I did something for the future of diabetes. Whether or not that’s true, I’ll probably never know. But knowing that I was helping Sarah was satisfying enough. By the way, I commend Sarah for her efforts in learning about diabetes. She went through the steps that we went through to learn and put herself in our positions. She tried checking her blood sugar daily (with expired strips no less), she wore a CGM and she even drew her own blood! When she told me that, I was appalled.

There was no pity from her. If anything, she wanted to learn and help. And after the countless times I’ve heard, “I would never be able to do that,” here’s someone with so much interest and no need that she actually tried it and survived.

How about that?

Leave a comment

Filed under Diabetes, Health