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On Science and Smartphones

Friday, October 19, 2012

By Meghann Ackerman

You know what’s cool? Science.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize how much science gives me without asking for anything in return. Despite barely understanding it, science keeps providing me with new ways to make my life easier, better and more fun.

I started thinking about my parasitic relationship with science last week when I got a new phone. When I got my first smartphone a couple of years ago it was cutting-edge technology. This new phone, though, is exponentially more advanced. Not only does it know when I’m looking at it, but it also gets philosophical when I ask it, “What’s the meaning of life?”

Whether life has any meaning or not, I think it’s important to enjoy it as much as possible. So, I was very excited to learn that the mortality rate for congenital heart patients has shifted greatly over the past few decades. (Thanks, science!)

Last month Victor turned 30, which is not exactly old, but does put him square in adulthood. Although we are all, in the words of Pink Floyd, shorter of breath and one day closer to death, there is a heightened awareness of that for someone with a congenital heart defect. Tired of assumptions, I used my fancy new phone to do some research into congenital heart defect mortality rates.

Once again, good guy science pulled through for me. A Journal of the American College of Cardiology article showed that mortality rates have shifted significantly since the 1980s. Data from 1987-1988 (five years after Victor was born) showed that almost 30% (by far a plurality) of congenital heart defect deaths were in the under one-year age group. Pretty depressing statistics.

Then I saw some more recent statistics. In 2004-2005 the largest percentage of congenital heart defect deaths were among 80-84 year olds. 80- to 84-year-olds! Thanks to advances in treatments, surgeries and medications it’s much more likely that someone with a congenital heart defect will live to a ripe old age.

As someone who wouldn’t mind keeping her husband around for another 50 years, I’ve got to say, “Thanks, science!”

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The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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