Intended for healthcare professionals



BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 16 June 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1456

If we watch someone getting hurt, we often experience a strong emotional empathetic response. But according to scientists writing in Nature Neuroscience ( 5 Jun 2005; doi: 10.1038/nn1481), it's also a physical thing. When transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to record changes in hand muscles, volunteers who watched a pin being stuck into another person's hand or foot and who rated the pain's intensity as high had a reduction of muscle excitability in the muscle that they saw being pricked.

Unlike most people who were nailed to a cross to die, Jesus is said to have died in less than six hours, whereas most crucifixions take up to four days. A letter in the latest electronic issue of Thrombosis and Haemostasis ( doi: 10.1111/j.1538-7836.2005.01525.x) suggests that his Jewish heritage may have endowed him with a hypercoagulable state, making pulmonary embolus from deep vein thrombosis due in part to dehydration and immobilisation the most likely cause of his more rapid death. The genetic mutation is common in Israel, especially in people who live in the Galilee area.

There seems to be a link between length of gestation in humans and the risk of the off-spring eventually dying from cerebrovascular disease (but not ischaemic heart disease). A Swedish study …

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