Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Curious uses of the word "acute"

From a post on Biology News Net [emphasis mine]:

Researchers led by neuropathologist Hannah Kinney, MD, and neuroscientist David Paterson, PhD, at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School examined brain autopsy specimens from 31 infants who had died from SIDS and 10 who had died acutely from other causes, provided by the San Diego Chief Medical Examiner's office.

I was under the impression that death, in whatever form it occurred, was pretty acute, but apparently there are gradations even here. I suspect non-acutely is the way you want to go.

I've also always wondered about the expansion for SARS -- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Aren't "severe" and "acute" redundant here ? The only explanation I can come up with is that if the "severe" bit were left out, the pronunciation would be a bit embarrassing [though entertaining for the juvenile-minded, like me] whereas SARS minus the A would be unpronounceable ["I'd like to buy a vowel, Vanna".]

I assume there is a precise medical meaning attached to "acute" that merits its use in these circumstances, and that I'm just unaware of said meaning.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

acute is the opposite of chronic.

-jdchung

8:08 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Hmm. "Chronic death" =) ? That seems like it might be applicable to cats using up their 9 lives ...

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I distinctly recall ... when I was little... when my "nose" problem migrated from acute sinusitis to... chronic sinusitis...

Me: "I'm going to die from this?"
Doc: "No, you'll just be blowing your nose constantly for the rest of your life."

10:36 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

Indeed: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2133
Thanks for clueing me in !

10:51 AM  
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