Health Desk

On Aging
4:05 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

As America Grays, A Call For Dignity In Aging And Elder Care

Originally published on Sun February 1, 2015 5:19 pm

The baby boomers are getting older: This year, 4 million people in America will turn 65.

In her new book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, author Ai-jen Poo says that means the country is on the cusp of a major shift.

"The baby boom generation is reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 people per day," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "What that means is that by 2050, 27 million Americans will need some form of long-term care or assistance, and that's the basis for this book."

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Your Health
4:05 pm
Sun February 1, 2015

Why Are Americans Getting Bigger?

Originally published on Sun February 1, 2015 4:51 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Shots - Health News
6:56 am
Sun February 1, 2015

Family Struggles With Father's Wish To Die

Robert Schwimmer, 66, and his son Scott Schwimmer, 21, spoke with NPR about Robert's wish to hasten his death under certain circumstances. Here β€” as in the family photo above β€” they're in Kauai, Hawaii, on the family's "last big trip" after Robert received a 6-month prognosis in October.
Courtesy Scott Schwimmer

Originally published on Sun February 1, 2015 10:39 am

When 66-year-old Robert Schwimmer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013, he didn't take it all that seriously. His doctors told him it was "operable," and that was the only word he seemed to hear.

Now he's in hospice care and, as he tells NPR's Rachel Martin, he accepts that he's no longer trying to prolong life, but rather living out what's left of it.

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The Salt
4:44 am
Sun February 1, 2015

College Life Doesn't Have To Mean Crummy Cuisine, Says Dorm Room Chef

No oven necessary: Hu makes her pumpkin cake in the microwave.
Courtesy of Emily Hu

Originally published on Sun February 1, 2015 1:07 pm

Emily Hu is a veritable master chef of the dorm room.

No oven? No problem. The college student is skilled at navigating the cooking limitations of campus living β€” she can whip up cakes with just four ingredients and a microwave, and make muffins in a toaster oven.

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Goats and Soda
4:19 pm
Sat January 31, 2015

Mindy Kaling's Super Bowl Ad: Are Indian Women Invisible?

After years of being treated like she's not there, Mindy Kaling realizes she just might be invisible.
via YouTube

Originally published on Sun February 1, 2015 9:03 am

A Super Bowl commercial for Nationwide Insurance shows an Indian-American woman β€” none other than author and actor Mindy Kaling β€” trying to hail a cab in New York City. And it's not easy.

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Shots - Health News
4:05 pm
Sat January 31, 2015

After Alzheimer's Diagnosis, 'The Stripping Away Of My Identity'

Greg O'Brien (left), with Colleen, Mary Catherine, Conor, and Brendan O'Brien, has been grappling with Alzheimer's disease for the last five years.
Courtesy Greg O'Brien

Originally published on Sun February 1, 2015 8:01 am

This is the second in NPR's series "Inside Alzheimer's," about the experience of living with Alzheimer's. In part one, Greg O'Brien talked about learning that he had the disease.

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StoryCorps
4:33 am
Sat January 31, 2015

Soldier With PTSD, Woman Who Lost Husband To It, Find Solace Together

Stefanie Pelkey, left, and T.J. Hart met while volunteering at a veterans center in Houston.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 12:20 pm

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from those who have served since 9/11 and their loved ones.

Stefanie Pelkey, 39, is a former Army captain. Her husband, Michael, served in Iraq as an Army captain in 2003 and struggled when he returned.

"When he came back, he wasn't the same person that left. His light was gone. That's the only way I know how to say it," she says. "He just didn't joke around anymore. He had a lot of anxiety. He'd shake his legs a lot while he was sitting there talking, like, he'd tap his feet a lot.

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Goats and Soda
4:33 am
Sat January 31, 2015

A Former Child Soldier Finds Escape, Heaven Through His Music

"Through music," says former child soldier Emmanuel Jal, "I was able to become a child again."
Courtesy of Gatwitch

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 1:11 pm

Emmanuel Jal was only 8 when he was dragged into Sudan's long civil war. Like 12,000 other children, he was recruited as a soldier, fighting and killing alongside South Sudanese armed groups.

Only a few, like Jal, have managed to escape.

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Shots - Health News
4:31 am
Sat January 31, 2015

Why Do We Love Football So Much? Theater Tackles Tough Questions

Football rules, uniforms, helmets and protective gear have changed a lot over the years.
Keystone-France Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Originally published on Sat January 31, 2015 12:20 pm

Football injuries have long been seen by some as a badge of honor. A broken sternum, a busted knee, a pierced kidney: all evidence of tenacity on the field.

But the emerging science around head injuries in football β€” and the long-term effects of repeated concussions – is forcing players, team owners and football fans to come to grips with the idea that the sport they love may be extracting a much higher price than anyone knew.

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Shots - Health News
3:40 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

By Impersonating Her Mom, A Comedian Grows Closer To Her

Think of human relationships as entanglements. How do they bind you; how do they reveal who you really are?
Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 6:21 pm

In this episode of Invisibilia, NPR's new show about human behavior, we wanted to explore entanglements: the invisible ways we're entangled with each other. So we called a comedian.

I'm a fan of Maria Bamford, who has done impressions of her mother throughout her career:

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Shots - Health News
12:23 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Obama Wants Funding For Research On More Precise Health Care

Harvard University student Elana Simon introduces President Obama before he spoke at the White House Friday about an initiative to encourage research into more precise medicine.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

You may soon be able to donate your personal data to science. There are plans afoot to find 1 million Americans to volunteer for a new Precision Medicine Initiative that would anonymously link medical records, genetic readouts, details about an individual's gut bacteria, lifestyle information and maybe even data from your Fitbit.

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Shots - Health News
10:42 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Experiments With Coordinating Medical Care Deliver Mixed Results

Medical homes are a simple, compelling idea: Give primary-care doctors resources to reduce preventable medical crises for diabetics, asthmatics and others with chronic illness, and it will reduce hospital visits, improve lives and save money.

But it's not so easy in practice.

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Shots - Health News
10:22 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Diabetes Technology Inches Closer To An Artificial Pancreas

The Dexcom Share device is designed to help monitor glucose levels remotely.
Dexcom, Inc.

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 4:33 pm

Every person who uses insulin to manage diabetes wants what they don't have β€” a replacement for their malfunctioning pancreas. And though the technology isn't yet to the point of creating an artificial pancreas, it's getting a lot closer.

Just last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a mobile app-based system that can monitor a person's sugar levels remotely. Parents can monitor a child's sugar while she or he is in school, for example, providing greater peace of mind.

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Shots - Health News
3:17 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Could This Virus Be Good For You?

Augustine Goba (right) heads the laboratory at Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone. He and colleagues analyzed the viral genetics in blood samples from 78 Ebola patients early in the epidemic.
Stephen Gire AP

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 9:46 am

Viruses are usually thought of as the bad guys β€” causing everything from Ebola and AIDS to hepatitis and measles. But scientists have been following the curious story of a particular virus that might actually be good for you.

The virus is called GB Virus-C, and more than a billion people alive today have apparently been infected with it at some point during their lives, says Dr. Jack Stapleton, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa.

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Shots - Health News
6:24 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Rise In Measles Cases Marks A 'Wake-Up Call' For U.S.

Aly Hurt/NPR

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 12:26 pm

After a few cases here and there, measles is making a big push back into the national consciousness.

An outbreak linked to visitors to the Disneyland Resort Theme Parks in Orange County, Calif., has sickened 67 people in California and six other states according to the latest count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Goats and Soda
6:06 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Ebola Cases Plummet In West Africa, As Endgame Begins

Ebola cases have steadily declined in Liberia and Sierra Leone over the past several weeks.
World Health Organization

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 7:33 pm

The tide may have turned on the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Last week, only 99 cases were reported. That's the lowest weekly count since June.

Cases have plummeted in the two countries hit hardest by Ebola, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In December, Sierra Leone was reporting more than 500 cases a week. It tallied only 65 last week.

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Sports
5:16 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Pro Football Hall Of Fame Tackles Assisted Living Center

The newest inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame will be picked on Saturday. This happens as the Hall itself is planning a radical change over the next four years β€” transforming from a museum into a complex of hotels, conference centers and corporate training facilities β€” what backers envision as the Disney of Pro Football.

But, perhaps the most unusual part of that project is an assisted living center for aging Hall of Fame football players.

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Around the Nation
4:16 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

To Protect His Son, Father Pushes School To Bar Unimmunized Kids

Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 5:54 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
10:44 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Cleveland Hospitals Grapple With Readmission Fines

Cleveland Clinic pharmacist Katie Greenlee talks with Morgan Clay about how he should take his prescriptions when he leaves the hospital.
Sarah Jane Tribble WCPN/Ideastream

At the Cleveland Clinic's sprawling main campus, Morgan Clay is being discharged early one Tuesday afternoon.

Clay arrived a couple of weeks earlier suffering from complications related to acute heart failure. He's ready to go home. But before he can leave, clinic pharmacist Katie Greenlee stops by the room.

"What questions can I answer for you about the medicines?" Greenlee asks as she presents a folder of information about more than a dozen prescriptions Clay takes.

"I don't have too many questions," Clay says. "I've been on most of that stuff for a long time."

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Shots - Health News
3:12 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Insurance Choices Dwindle In Rural California As Blue Shield Pulls Back

Lori Lomas, an insurance agent with Feather Financial in Quincy, Calif., has noticed that her clients in San Francisco have many more health carrier options than her mountain neighbors.
Pauline Bartolone for KXJZ

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 9:32 am

After the insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act first went live in late 2013, Lori Lomas started combing the website of Covered California on a hunt for good deals for her clients. Lomas is an agent at Feather Financial, in the Sierra Nevada town of Quincy, Calif.; she's been selling health policies in rural communities for more than 20 years.

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Shots - Health News
5:00 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Florida Health Officials Hope To Test GMO Mosquitoes This Spring

A couple of male, genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes take flight.
Dr Derric Nimmo/Oxitec

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 6:27 pm

The FDA is considering whether to approve the experimental use of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys to help stop the spread of dengue fever and other diseases. Mosquito control officials in the region say they hope to get approval to begin releasing the insects in the Keys as soon as this spring.

There are few places in the United States where mosquito control is as critical as the Florida Keys. In this southernmost county of the continental U.S., mosquitoes are a year-round public health problem and controlling them is a top priority.

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Health Desk
2:26 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Cervical Cancer Awareness

Credit http://www.rpmh.net/

January is "Cervical Health Awareness Month" and those in the health field around the country, including SIUΒ School of Medicine in Springfield, are urging women to get screened. Cervical cancer is usually caused by HPV, a virus that can sometimes be prevented with the use of vaccines. You can find guidelines on how frequently Pap tests are suggested by The American Cancer Society here.

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Goats and Soda
1:43 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

India Grows, Canada Disappears: Mapping Countries By Population

Can you find Australia and Canada? The cartogram, made by Reddit user TeaDranks, scales each country's geographic area by its population. (Click through to see the high-resolution map.)
TeaDranks via Imgur

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 6:55 pm

World maps distort β€” it's inherent in their design.

Take a spherical object (the Earth) and try to represent it on a flat plane (paper), and some parts of the sphere are going to get stretched. On most maps, Canada and Russia get puffed up, while countries along the equator get shrunk.

Every now and then, though, you stumble across a map that enlightens.

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Shots - Health News
11:02 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Is It OK To Pay Pregnant Women To Stop Smoking?

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth, stillbirth and infant death.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 1:42 pm

Women who smoke while they're pregnant are more likely to have health problems, and their babies are at risk, too. But attempts to get women to stop smoking while pregnant usually fail.

When pregnant women in Scotland got paid to quit, 23 percent of them managed to stop smoking, compared with 9 percent who quit after they got counseling, support calls and free nicotine replacement therapy, according to a study published Tuesday in The BMJ.

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Around the Nation
5:22 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Measles Outbreak Spreads; Unvaccinated Urged To Get Vaccine

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 7:19 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Shots - Health News
2:30 am
Wed January 28, 2015

VA Steps Up Programs As More Veterans Enter Hospice Care

A hospital bed is draped with a flag after a veteran died in the hospice ward at St. Albans VA in Queens, N.Y.
Quil Lawrence NPR

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 3:32 pm

Ask Americans if someone in their family served in the military, and the answer is probably no. After all, fewer than 1 percent of Americans serve these days.

But ask if one of their grandfathers served, and you'll likely get a different answer. Between World War II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam, millions of men were drafted into service β€” and both men and women volunteered.

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Goats and Soda
5:12 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

For Dollars Donated To Vaccine Campaigns, Norway Wears The Crown

A Pakistani polio vaccination worker gives a dose to a child in Islamabad during a 2014 campaign.
Farooq Naeem AFP/Getty Images

GAVI asked and the world gave.

GAVI is the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. At a conference in Berlin today, the nonprofit group asked for help in meeting its goals of vaccinating 300 million children in low income countries against potentially fatal diseases.

The response was extraordinary: a total of $7.5 billion pledged to cover GAVI's 2016-2020 efforts.

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Shots - Health News
4:42 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

To Protect His Son, A Father Asks School To Bar Unvaccinated Children

Rhett Krawitt, 6, outside his school in Tiburon, Calif. Seven percent of the children in his school are not vaccinated.
Courtesy of Carl Krawitt

Originally published on Wed January 28, 2015 1:09 pm

Carl Krawitt has watched his son, Rhett, now 6, fight leukemia for the past 4 1/2 years. For more than three of those years, Rhett has undergone round after round of chemotherapy. Last year he finished chemotherapy, and doctors say he is in remission.

Now, there's a new threat, one that the family should not have to worry about: measles.

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Health
3:34 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Orange County Fights To Contain Measles Outbreak

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 5:30 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Salt
10:45 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Beef Packers Block Plan To Revive Growth-Promoting Drug

Cattle in holding pens at the Simplot feedlot located next to a slaughterhouse in Burbank, Washington on Dec. 26, 2013. Merck & Co Inc is testing lower dosages of its controversial cattle growth drug Zilmax drug in an effort to resume its sales to the $44 billion U.S. beef industry.
Ross Courtney Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 1:08 pm

For more than a year, a once-popular drug that makes cattle put on weight faster has been stuck in a kind of veterinary purgatory.

As far as the Food and Drug Administration is concerned, the drug, Zilmax, is legal to use. But large meat packers, which dominate the industry, have ostracized it after the drug was accused of making animals suffer. The drug's manufacturer, Merck, has been working on a plan to rehabilitate it. But that effort has stalled.

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