Baskerville effect: A fatal heart attack triggered by extreme psychological stress. The effect is named after Charles Baskerville, a character in the Arthur Conan Doyle story “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” who suffers a fatal heart attack due to extreme psychological stress.
The term “Baskerville effect” was coined in 2001 in the course of a research study that found Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans had a 7% greater death rate from heart disease on the 4th day of the month (BMJ 2001;323:1443-1446). There was no such peak mortality for white Americans. Since both Chinese and Japanese regard the number four as unlucky, it appears that heart fatalities increase on psychologically stressful occasions.
(The stressful nature of the number 4 for Chinese and Japanese comes from the fact that in Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese) and Japanese the words “four” and “death” are pronounced almost identically. Some Chinese and Japanese hospitals do not have a fourth floor or number any rooms “4.” Mainland Chinese omit the number 4 in designating military aircraft. Japanese people may avoid traveling on the 4th of the month.)
Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859. He received his medical degree from the University there and practiced briefly as a doctor but left medicine to write full-time. This he was able to do because of the popularity of his Sherlock Holmes stories. However, he tired of Holmes and in 1893 he tried to “kill” him in “The Final Problem.” However, because of public mourning for Holmes, he brought him briefly back to life in 1901 in “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Conan Doyle was knighted in 1902 for his work in Boer War propaganda and, some said, because of “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Sir Arthur died in 1930.
Basophil: A type of white blood cell (leukocyte) with coarse, bluish-black granules of uniform size within the cytoplasm. Basophils are so named because their cytoplasmic granules stain with basic dyes. Basophils normally constitute 0.5 to 3 percent of the peripheral blood leukocytes, and contain histamine and serotonin. Also known as a basophilic leukocyte.
- Bather's eruption
Bather’s eruption: An intensely itchy rash due to contact with the tiny thimble jellyfish (Linuche unguiculata). These jellyfish are common between March and August in the waters off of Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. There may be no adult jellyfish around as a warning. The jellyfish larvae look like […]
- Batten disease
Batten disease: a rare, fatal genetic condition that typically begins in childhood. It is a form of a group of neurologic disorders called the neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses, or NCLs. The term Batten disease is sometimes used to refer to all the NCL disorders. Early signs can be vision changes, seizures, clumsiness, or behavior changes. With […]
Bathophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of depths. Sufferers from bathophobia experience anxiety even though they realize they are safe from falling into or being consumed by depths. The feared object may be a long, dark hallway, a well or a deep pool or lake. “Bathophobia” is derived from the Greek “bathos” (depth) and “phobos” […]
- Battered child syndrome
Battered child syndrome: A disease in which children are physically abused. The battered child syndrome is a form of child abuse. Not until the 19th century were children granted the same legal status as domesticated animals in regard to protection against cruelty and/or neglect. In 1962 the term “battered child syndrome” entered medicine. By 1976 […]