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Married people have lower risk of heart disease

On Friday at the American College of Cardiology Meeting in Washington D.C., research was presented that showed that married people have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.  According to Fox News, researchers from New York University’s Langone Medical Center found that married people have a significantly decreased risk of heart disease compared to people who are widowed, single or divorced.

This study looked at 3.5 million men and women.  Dr. Carlos Alviar, who is an NYU Langone cardiology fellow that is part of the research team, said this study is the largest of its kind and provides the most comprehensive look at the connection between relationship status and cardiovascular disease.  Until now, research on the connection between relationship status and heart disease has had conflicting results.  This study was unique because it did not just distinguish between married and unmarried like previous studies, but examined different types of marital statuses.

The research team analyzed rates of four types of cardiovascular disease in people between the ages of 21 and 99.  Overall, married people had a 5 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to unmarried people.  The benefits were more pronounced for younger people.  Married participants under the age of 50 had a 12 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to young unmarried people.

The American Heart Association describes cardiovascular disease as a variety of problems related to the heart and blood vessels.  Many heart disease issues are related to atherosclerosis, a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup makes it harder for blood to flow through.  If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow and can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Other types of heart disease include heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve problems.  In each of these conditions, the heart is not functioning in the way that it should.  The American College of Cardiology is working to improve cardiovascular health through education, research, quality care, and health policy.  The conference in D.C. is one example of its efforts to improve cardiovascular health through research and education.

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Catheter for aortic valve replacement may carry lower risk of death

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, compared surgical risk for different methods of treatment for individuals with severe aortic stenosis and an increased risk of death during surgery.  The researchers compared a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), using a bioprosthesis, with surgical aortic valve replacement.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the risk of death among severe aortic stenosis patients one year after treatment was lower in those who received a prosthetic valve inserted through a catheter than in those who had the valve replaced during surgery.  The catheter is inserted through an incision in the groin and threaded through an artery to the aorta. A stent and the prosthetic valve open when the catheter is unsheathed.

In January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the device for extreme-risk patients, the patients who are too sick for open-heart surgery.  This new study could pave the way for FDA approval for patients who are eligible for surgery but are at high risk of dying.  Now, fewer patients with aortic stenosis may have to face open heart surgery.

Medline Plus describes aortic stenosis as a disease of the aortic valve.  The aorta is the main artery carrying blood out of the heart.  When blood leaves the heart, it flows through the aortic valve, into the aorta.  In aortic stenosis, the aortic valve does not open fully. This decreases blood flow from the heart.  In adults, aortic stenosis usually occurs due to calcium deposits that narrow the valve. This is called calcific aortic stenosis, and it generally affects older people.

People with aortic stenosis may have no symptoms until late in the course of the disease.  The diagnosis may have been made when the health care provider heard a heart murmur and performed tests.  Symptoms include breathlessness, chest pain, fainting, weakness, dizziness, and palpitations.  Each year, aortic stenosis is diagnosed in about 100,000 people.

A total of 795 people were enrolled in the study at 45 centers nationwide.  Of these, 14.2 percent of patients who received the valve through a catheter died after one year, compared with 19.1 percent of those who had surgery.  Complications are inherent in both procedures, but are lower with less invasive treatment.

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Facebook wants to use drones to provide Internet access to remote areas

For awhile now, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has been working at spreading internet access to every corner of the world. The campaign, part of a global partnership called Internet.org, is – according to the organization’s website – “dedicated to making affordable internet access available to the two thirds of the world not yet connected.” Zuckerberg has pushed various solutions in the past, such as balloons carrying internet equipment, but now he is shackling his ideas to another airborne trend: drones.

In a Facebook blog post published earlier this week, Zuckerberg stated that his division of the Internet.org partnership – a Facebook department called the “Facebook Connectivity Lab” – had been working on solutions that would allow them to provide internet signals from the skies of third-world countries. The developments at Facebook, he claimed, included innovations in drones, satellites, and lasers.

The goal with such airborne signal generators would be to provide potential internet access to anyone and everyone on the ground. Though computers are still not commonplace in many of the countries where Internet.org is working to establish a presence, smartphones have now become so ubiquitous that even many citizens of poorer nations have them. With the help of projects like Internet.org and the Facebook Connectivity Lab, these users would finally have the internet signals they need to connect their mobile devices to the web and join the global internet community.

According to Zuckerberg, the Facebook Connectivity Lab has already been extremely successful in its partnership with Internet.org. The CEO wrote that, in the past year, the social media company has been working specifically in the Philippines and Paraguay, where their efforts have paid off in the form of 3 million new internet users. Adding drones – which would broadcast internet signals in a similar to fashion as satellites, but would do so at significantly lower and closer altitudes – would only push that number higher.

Of course, there are significant hurdles to be faced in developing drones that would orbit around at a certain point in the air and provide consistent Wi-Fi coverage in the process. Facebook, of course, has no experience with drone science or really with anything in the aerospace field. A post of WSBRadio.com indicates that Facebook may be in talks to purchase a company called Titan Aerospace to help with the drone engineering side of things, but as of yet, such claims are merely speculation.

 

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Microsoft will stop spying on suspected thieves

If you’re like most computer and internet users, every time you are asked to read a “terms of service” agreement, you simply scroll rapidly through the document, check “I agree” at the bottom the page, and go about your business. However, according to a recent post from InTheCapital, Microsoft has been using this corner-cutting tendency as a means of sneaking questionable provisions into its terms of service policies.

The current issue with Microsoft involves a policy in the company’s customer service agreements that has, for years now, given the corporation the right to snoop through the emails and other private content of any customers suspected of pirating or otherwise stealing Microsoft products, services, software, and other assorted property. In other words, if Microsoft suspected you of using a pirated copy of Microsoft Office, their terms of service agreements would essentially give them the legal right to go rifling through your emails and other internet communications to try to find proof.

Of course, while Microsoft can’t be legally targeted for this practice – due to airtight contractual language and sheer customer ignorance – that doesn’t mean that they haven’t earned the vehemence of customers for exercising dishonest practices. In fact, when a 2012 court case involving the thief snooping provision hit the headlines, the Washington-based software giant faced notable backlash that likely encouraged more than a few customers to jump ship on Microsoft products and services. Now, in the wake of last year’s Edward Snowden NSA leak – as well as the myriad privacy infringement revelations it brought to the forefront of public discussion – Microsoft is feeling more pressure than ever before to respect the privacy of its customers and keep snooping to a minimum.

For that reason, the company announced this week that it was in the process of rewriting and re-defining its policy regarding potential Microsoft software thieves. Now, if the company receives indication that a customer has been infringing upon Microsoft copyrights, it will pass that information off to law enforcement rather than launching a private investigation and digging through the alleged thief’s private information. The new change will soon be reflected in Microsoft’s customer terms of service agreements.

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Lady Gaga sports rose-inspired nude suit to concert at Roseland Ballroom

The always unpredictable Lady Gaga wore a flower-covered nude suit for the first of seven shows at the Roseland Ballroom on Friday night.

According to the New York Daily News, Gaga’s concert included six outfit changes (no surprise there), as well as performances of “Just Dance, ” “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face.” Sadly, the performances will be the final shows at the famous venue; a place that has seen stars such as The Rolling Stones, Madonna and Beyonce come through its doors.

“Went to my old apt last night. Nostalgia is magical. Even better celebrating at the bar I turned 21 in. #samefriends,” Gaga tweeted after the show.

The Associated Press points out that Gaga’s Roseland Ballroom show was far tamer than the performance she gave at SXSW. During the show in Austin, Texas, a “vomit painter” vomited green liquid all over the singer.

Are you surprised by Gaga’s outfits anymore? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo credit: Twitter/@LadyGaga

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Taco Bell introduces waffle taco, recruits Ronald McDonald to endorse breakfast menu

Watch out McDonalds and Burger King; there’s a new player in the fast food breakfast game.

According to a post published recently on Syracuse.com, Taco Bell is planning on adding breakfast hours to its daily schedule. Of course, quesadillas and chalupas aren’t many people’s idea of a morning meal, so Taco Bell is also unveiling a few new menu offerings, including Waffle Tacos and A.M. Crunch Wraps. Most of Taco Bell’s 6,000 United States locations will begin taking breakfast orders, from 7 to 11 a.m., on March 27.

So what exactly is a “Waffle Taco,” and why would anyone want to eat it? The concept of the waffle taco is pretty simple. Instead of using a tortilla shell to hold the whole enterprise together, the base is a circular waffle. There are two variations on the recipe, the first including scrambled eggs and a sausage patty, the second boasting scrambled eggs and bacon. These ingredients take the place of the usual ground beef and cheese or vegetables in a taco. Finally, waffle tacos are topped with maple syrup, combining together the sweet and savory flavors of breakfast.

If that doesn’t sound appetizing, the Taco Bell breakfast menu also includes less experimental recipes like the A.M. Crunchwrap, which uses Taco Bell’s regular flour tortillas as a base instead of a waffle. The “crunch” of the title is provided by a hash brown, which is then topped with cheesy eggs and supplemented with either sausage or bacon. The menu also includes more conventional breakfast burritos and breakfast tacos, as well as Cinnabon and hash brown side dishes. The entire breakfast menu – as well as its not-so-flattering nutritional information – can be viewed on the Taco Bell website.

Taco Bell’s higher-ups know that they are going against more established fast food breakfast offerings here, and instead of ignoring that fact, they are embracing it. The ad campaign for the new Taco Bell breakfast menu recruited a bunch of guys who are actually legally named Ronald McDonald and had them offer endorsements for the new menu. Now, Taco Bell can actually say that Ronald McDonald supports their breakfast menu. It may be a gimmick, but for pulling focus away from McDonalds and onto the new Taco Bell breakfast menu, it’s a genius marketing move.

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Ryan Seacrest's company won't be allowed to sell Blackberry-like iPhone case

It seemed like a great idea at first.

Last year, Typo, a company founded by American Idol host and all-around radio and television personality Ryan Seacrest, unveiled a specialized phone case for Apple’s iPhone 5 and 5S models. The Typo case included a full physical keyboard that would send signals to the phone and allow users to type messages without use of the touch screen. For those who love the iPhone’s functionality, but miss the days of easier-to-use (and more error proof) physical keyboards, the case was a perfect compromise, and users responded by inundating Typo with pre-orders for the as-yet-unreleased product.

However, now it appears that Typo will either have to launch a redesign or cancel those preorders and go out of business. In January, Blackberry sued Typo, alleging that the company had infringed upon the physical keyboard design that is its trademark. Indeed, the similarities between the Typo case and Blackberry’s physical keyboard design are notable, though, to be fair, only so much innovation is possible with a standard-issue QWERTY keyboard.

Still, despite the rather frivolous nature of the case, United States District Judge William Orrick ruled on Friday that Typo had infringed upon Blackberry’s keyboard patents – a decision that could potentially spell the end for Typo. Orrick sided with Blackberry, which had argued throughout the case that the similarities between the Typo case and Blackberry’s phones were “unmistakable” and that Blackberry’s market share would be “irreparably harmed” by a company stealing their trademark factor. Orrick also balked at the idea that a temporary sales ban and re-design period would put Typo out of business, and dismissed the Seacrest company’s argument that Blackberry is already struggling to such a point that any additional competition wouldn’t make much of a difference.

Even if Blackberry’s difficulties couldn’t win a court case for Typo, however, they are still a very real concern. Despite the Typo victory, Blackberry’s stock plummeted to its lowest point in months on Friday when CEO John Chen indicated that sales growth for the company was still a long way off. Blackberry has struggled recently to compete with products from Apple, Samsung, and other smartphone makers.

Typo, meanwhile, has stated plans to appeal the ruling.

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'Ching Chong Ding Dong' tweet inspires #CancelColbert

Stephen Colbert went on the defensive recently, explaining to his fans that he wasn’t responsible for a racist tweet that was posted by @ColbertReport late Thursday. At 4:02 pm yesterday, @ColbertReport tweeted: “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” The tweet was deleted shortly thereafter.

In response to the backlash, which eventually spawned #CancelColbert, Colbert has said that the tweet was posted by his show’s Twitter account not his personal account: “#CancelColbert – I agree! Just saw @ColbertReport tweet. I share your rage. Who is that, though? I’m @StephenAtHome.”

In fact, @ColbertReport is actually a Comedy Central promotional account. “For the record @ColbertReport is not controlled by Stephen Colbert or his show. He is @StephenAtHome Sorry for the confusion #CancelColbert,” @Colbert Report tweeted in reponse to the outrage.

The tweet in question was associated with a Colbert Report episode from earlier in the week about Washington Redskins owner Dan Synder’s effort to establish the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. Colbert made fun of Snyder’s effort, calling it a PR move.

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Watch live: Louisville faces Kentucky in Bluegrass rivalry

The Louisville Cardinals are preparing to take on the Kentucky Wildcats at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday tonight. The rivalry is known affectionately as the Bluegrass rivalry in Kentucky.

The NCAA basketball game will air on CBS at 9:45 pm EDT. Until then, basketball fans are wondering if Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s quest for his team to repeat as champions will be fulfilled.

The Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals have been rivals since first playing against each other way back in 1913. Although that rivalry extends to every sport they play against each other, their basketball rivalry is second to none.

“We’re looking for revenge,” former Louisville star Darrell Griffith said on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. “We didn’t play a good game at Kentucky, and they’ve got a real good team (that’s) playing the way a lot expect them to play now. We’ve got a great team. We’re undersized, but that doesn’t matter. You see a lot of teams on the sidelines now. You play to your strengths and which team’s strengths prevail is the one that’s going to win. Everybody’s got to have their ‘A’ game from here on out.”

Both the Wildcats and Cardinals are hot right now, obviously, as they’ve both made it to the Sweet Sixteen. Louisville in particular is on a seven game winning streak and Kentucky just recently defeated the undefeated Wichita State Shockers.

Watch the game live here.

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Being married is good for your heart

In a study involving the medical records of 3.5 million people, researchers have concluded that married folks have lower rates of heard disease (and fewer cardiovascular conditions like hardened arteries and blood clots) than people who are single, widowed or divorced. Keep that in mind the next time you get into a rift with your spouse.

The news was presented today in Washington at the American College of Cardiology meeting.

As with many studies of this nature, scientists aren’t yet sure of the causal mechanisms behind the correlation – they only know that it exists. Still, the study reinforces the notion posed by many others before it: Married individuals live longer, healthier lives than their single counterparts.

“We are not advising people to get married as a way to prevent cardiovascular disease,” said Carlos Alviar, a cardiology fellow at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and the study’s lead author in an e-mail to Bloomberg. “When it comes to cardiovascular disease, marital status does indeed matter and it is important for clinicians to take this into account when they are examining patients.”

Doctors hypothesize that marriage may lead to a more active lifestyle and improve access to preventative medicine, both of which help avoid heart disease. Overall, married couples had a 5% lower risk of vascular disease (includes conditions like hardening of the arteries or blood clots) than singles and a whopping 19% reduced chance of peripheral artery disease, in which plaque builds up in the body’s arteries. The effect was most pronounced in couples aged 50 and under. Apparently, even love isn’t enough to prop up an aging heart.

So next time you feel as though your spouse it nit-picking or nagging you, pause for a moment – they may literally be saving your life.

“Those who have a spouse may be more likely to comply with doctors’ appointments and medications,” said Alvarez.