Health Desk

Shots - Health News
1:24 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Healthier Patients May Have To Wait For Costly Hepatitis C Drugs

Sovaldi, a daily oral treatment for hepatitis C, costs $1,000 a pill.
Courtesy of Gilead Sciences

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 4:43 pm

Expensive new drugs for hepatitis C may work better than older treatments, but their high cost undermines their value, a panel of experts said Monday during a daylong forum in San Francisco.

"The price makes it very hard for the health care system," said Steve Pearson, who oversaw the meeting for the California Technology Assessment Forum, a group affiliated with health insurers that holds public meetings to weigh evidence on new treatments.

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The Salt
1:17 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Water-To-Wine Machine Sound Too Good To Be True? It Is

Philip James, Chairman of CustomVine, and Kevin Boyer, President and CEO of CustomVine, film a video to promote The Miracle Machine, which turns water into wine with the use of an app.
Courtesy of The Miracle Machine

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 3:01 pm

Think a machine that can turn water into wine is too good to be true? Well, it turns out, it is.

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Children's Health
12:51 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

In Syria, Not Just Bullets And Bombs Harming Children

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 2:19 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. The standoff in Ukraine may be a central concern of world leaders right now, but it is not the only one. This weekend will mark three years since the protests against the Syrian regime began. That conflict has now ballooned into a full-blown civil war and a devastating humanitarian crisis along with it. And as the fourth year of the crisis begins, the global nonprofit group Save the Children is trying to call attention to the plight of Syria's children.

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The Salt
11:39 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Who Says Food Porn Has To Be Dominated By Junk Food?

Relax with Food Porn Index's "melon meditation." Om ...
Courtesy of Bolthouse Farms

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 4:51 pm

It's one of our guiltiest pleasures on the Internet, and though some of us may not like to admit it, chances are, we've done it. Some are even addicted. That's right, we're talking about the endless consumption and distribution of food porn.

Photos of fatty foods like grease-laced bacon and glistening donuts abound to satisfy our virtual cravings, yet their healthier counterparts — fruits and veggies – just haven't been getting as much love online.

But why should the junk food guys have all the fun?

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Shots - Health News
11:08 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Mix Of Gut Microbes May Play Role In Crohn's Disease

In some human diseases, the wrong mix of bacteria seems to be the trouble.
Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 8:31 pm

The particular assortment of microbes in the digestive system may be an important factor in the inflammatory bowel condition known as Crohn's disease.

Research involving more than 1,500 patients found that people with Crohn's disease had less diverse populations of gut microbes.

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Shots - Health News
2:41 am
Wed March 12, 2014

You Might Pay A Lot More Than $95 For Skipping Health Insurance

The tax penalty is designed to encourage people to sign up for health insurance.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 3:08 pm

2014 is the first year most Americans will have to either have health insurance or face a tax penalty.

But most people who are aware of the penalty think it's pretty small, at least for this first year. And that could turn into an expensive mistake.

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Shots - Health News
4:53 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Obesity Linked To Lower Grades Among Teen Girls

In a British study of nearly 6,000 students, obesity — or perhaps dealing with the stigma associated with obesity — seemed to reduce academic performance.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 7:23 am

Childhood obesity has made it to the forefront of public health issues, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

Now researchers at the Universities of Dundee, Strathclyde, Georgia and Bristol say that not only does obesity affect a child's overall health, but it may also lead to poorer school performance among teenage girls. Among boys, the link is less apparent.

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The Two-Way
4:46 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Health Care Enrollments Up, But Still Well Short Of Goal

The HealthCare.gov website has been a source of delays and confusion for those trying to sign up for health insurance under the ACA.
Jon Elswick AP

Another 940,000 people signed up for health insurance in February under the Affordable Care Act, bringing the total to 4.2 million since the troubled HealthCare.gov website was launched, the Department of Health and Human Services reports. The number is still well short of the administration's goal for March 31, when open enrollment ends.

To reach 6 million sign ups under the ACA, as the White House had hoped for, another 1.8 million people would need to enroll by the end of the month.

As The Associated Press reports:

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Shots - Health News
4:11 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Whole Genome Scans Aren't Quite Ready For Your Doctor's Office

Interpreting the results from a genome scan takes a lot of people time. And the databases used to interpret the results aren't infallible.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 3:08 pm

For more than a decade scientists have been saying that a genomic revolution will transform medicine, making it possible to scan all of a person's DNA to predict risk and customize medical care.

Well, we've got the machines. Where's the revolution?

Getting closer, say researchers at Stanford University, who tested the technology on 12 people. But not quite ready for every doctor's office.

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Shots - Health News
4:00 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Young People Lag Behind In Health Insurance Enrollment

The proportion of sign-ups for health insurance by age group on the federal and state exchanges.
HHS

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 5:58 pm

With 20 days left for people to sign up for private health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the number of people who have completed that task rose to 4.2 million through the end of February, the Obama administration reports.

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Politics
3:06 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

To Sell Health Care To Young People, Obama Steps 'Between Two Ferns'

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 5:51 pm

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Long-time fans of the comedy website, "Funny or Die," know this already. But for the rest of you, this is the theme song of "Between Two Ferns." The Web series mimics a low-budget, cable-access interview program.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's the brainchild of actor and comedian Zach Galifinakis. He plays an unprepared host who fumbles through awkward conversations with celebrities. But the guest of his latest episode, released today, was a little different.

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Health Care
3:06 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

March Marks A Crucible For Obamacare As Deadline Nears

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 5:51 pm

Facing a deadline, the Obama administration is desperate to boost enrollment in health care exchanges. Still millions from their goal, they're stepping up outreach and forgetting politics — for now.

Humans
3:06 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Genetic Sequencing May Not Be Ready To Become Routine

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 5:51 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

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Shots - Health News
1:17 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Questions Remain About Whether Doctors Can Curb Children's Drug Use

The exam might also include questions about alcohol and drugs.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 1:20 pm

What can doctors do to help kids stay away from drugs?

There's not much evidence to say one way or the other, it turns out.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which issues guidelines on what doctors should and shouldn't do, said there aren't enough reliable studies around to come up with any solid advice. So the task force gave the interventions an "I" for insufficient evidence. The kids might call it an incomplete.

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Shots - Health News
12:50 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Tiny In-Nose Filters Aim To Keep Allergies At Bay

The glasses aren't going to help with your allergies. But some inventors think that a tiny dust-blocking device might.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 7:23 am

For the millions of people with allergies, spring can mean months of antihistamines, nasal steroids and avoiding nature.

So we were intrigued when we came across the concept of nasal filters – tiny devices that claim to block pollen and other allergens from ever entering nasal passages.

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Health Desk
11:57 am
Tue March 11, 2014

State Panel Approves Memorial-Passavant Affiliation

Passavant Area Hospital
Credit Passavant Hospital

The affiliation of two area health care organizations is a step closer to becoming a reality.  Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville plans to join Memorial Health System, which oversees three other hospitals including Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.

Tuesday, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board unanimously approved the change.   
Ed Curtis, Memorial's CEO, says the affiliation is on target to take effect April first.  Afterward, he says patients won't notice an immediate difference in how they access health care:

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NPR Story
11:12 am
Tue March 11, 2014

On Identity, Depression And Listening: Andrew Solomon Answers Your Questions

Writer Andrew Solomon speaking at TEDMED.
Courtesy of TEDMED

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 10:28 am

Writer Andrew Solomon delves deep into topics most wouldn't touch. His book Far From The Tree is a thoughtful look into parents raising children who are different from themselves: children with Down's syndrome, autism, or a complete loss of hearing and others. His TED Talk based on the book has been seen almost two million times.

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Shots - Health News
10:04 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Deadline Nears To Buy Or Switch Obamacare Coverage

Janelle Arevalo, an insurance agent with Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, makes a house call in Miami to sign up Sandra Berrios (left) for an insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

People who got off to a rough start with Obamacare or haven't picked a plan still have options. But they better hop to it. The open enrollment period ends March 31.

Those who were unable to sign up for a marketplace plan because of the glitches with federal or state websites can receive coverage retroactive to the date they originally applied. There are also retroactive premium tax credits and subsidies, the federal government said in late February.

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Shots - Health News
4:34 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

As Health Law Takes Hold, Rate Of Uninsured Falls

A survey taken in early 2014 finds that the uninsured rate has declined. But differences by age remain.
Gallup

Since the Affordable Care Act kicked in fully, the percentage of Americans without health coverage has fallen to its lowest point in five years.

In the last quarter of 2013, just before the federal health law took full effect, 17.1 percent of Americans reported they lacked health insurance, according to a Gallup survey.

When the survey was taken (between Jan. 2 and Feb. 28), the rate had dropped to 1.2 percentage points to 15.9 percent.

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Children's Health
3:02 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Casinos, Sites Of Excess, Might Actually Help Families Slim Down

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 6:59 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

When you think about casinos, you probably think about excess: smoke-filled rooms, too much alcohol, and endless buffets filled with piles of high-fat and high sugar foods.

But as NPR's Patti Neighmond reports, a new study suggests casinos may actually have a health benefit for children who live in nearby communities.

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Shots - Health News
2:48 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Memories Can Go Astray When We Step Outside Our Bodies

The illusion of an out-of-body experience made it harder for people to remember what happened.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 1:19 pm

Our bodies may help us remember our lives, fixing experiences in place. By using virtual reality, scientists can make people feel like they're outside their own bodies. And when they do, the brain struggles to remember what happened.

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Health Desk
1:38 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

State Health Panel Wants To See Expansion Of Health Jobs

LaMar Hasbrouck, IDPH Director
Credit WUIS

A state panel has released nearly two dozen recommendations to deal with the increase in patients expected under the Affordable Care Act.  However, some of those ideas will be hard to get approved.

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Children's Health
11:15 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Why Kids Leave The E.R. With Concussions

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 12:23 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Brain injuries like concussions have got a lot of attention in professional sports lately. But there's also a new focus on concussion in children, especially those who play sports at a young age. A new study suggests that emergency rooms could be doing much more to find and treat concussions in children. It's published online in the journal Pediatrics Today.

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Shots - Health News
1:57 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Of Cigs And Selfies: Teens Imitate Risky Behavior Shared Online

High school students whose friends posted photos of drinking and smoking were about 20 percent more likely to become drinkers or smokers themselves.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 8:59 am

Teenagers put a lot of stock in what their peers are doing, and parents are forever trying to push back against that influence. But with the advent of social media, hanging out with the wrong crowd can include not just classmates, but teenagers thousands of miles away on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

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Shots - Health News
1:04 pm
Sun March 9, 2014

Alzheimer's Blood Test Raises Ethical Questions

Scientists have long sought a way to detect Alzheimer's before symptoms appear.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 8:59 am

An experimental blood test can identify people in their 70s who are likely to develop Alzheimer's disease within two or three years. The test is accurate more than 90 percent of the time, scientists reported Sunday in Nature Medicine.

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Health
7:19 am
Sun March 9, 2014

A Senator's Long And Patient Recovery From Stroke

Originally published on Sun March 9, 2014 11:00 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Two years ago last January, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk was getting ready for another busy working day, filled with appointments, when he felt a strange sensation.

SENATOR MARK KIRK: I was in my house in Illinois, in the bathroom. A little temporary dizziness indicated that I had a problem that ought to be looked at by a doctor.

MARTIN: He called his assistant, cancelled his appointments and drove himself to the hospital. It was a stroke.

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Shots - Health News
11:28 am
Sat March 8, 2014

When Facts Are Scarce, ER Doctor Turns Detective To Decide On Care

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 9:55 am

It's just past midnight on a freezing Saturday night in Washington, D.C.

In the last hour, five ambulances have arrived at the emergency room where I work. A sixth pulls up.

The paramedics wheel out a stretcher carrying a man, 73, strapped to a hard board, a precaution in case his spine is fractured. There's blood around his neck brace and a strong smell of urine.

"We found him by his bed," a paramedic tells me. The patient told the paramedics he slipped. "Reports back pain and some cuts and bruises," one of them adds.

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Health Care
6:53 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Affordable Care Act Isn't Perfect, But It's A 'Pretty Good Structure'

Courtesy of Public Affairs

Originally published on Sun March 9, 2014 11:20 am

For the Affordable Care Act to be considered a success years down the road, Ezekiel Emanuel believes that all Americans must have access to health coverage, and it must be better quality and lower cost. "And I think it's well within our grasp," he says.

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Shots - Health News
6:53 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Reaching The Young And Uninsured On A Texas Campus

Nobody plans to wind up in the emergency room, but costly accidents happen — even to healthy young people.
Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 9:55 am

At lunchtime on the North Harris campus of Houston's Lone Star Community College, students stream through the lobby of the student services center, plugged into their headphones or rushing to class.

Many walk right past a small information table about the Affordable Care Act.

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The Edge
4:28 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Military Training Gives U.S. Paralympic Biathletes An Edge

Andy Soule, a U.S. Army veteran, lost both his legs to a bomb in Afghanistan in 2005. Four years ago, he won America's first medal — Olympic or Paralympic — in the biathlon event.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 6:39 pm

Biathlon may be the toughest endurance sport in the Olympics. After grueling circuits of Nordic skiing, athletes have to calm their breathing, steady their tired legs and shoot tiny targets with a rifle.

Andy Soule does it all with only his arms.

"It's a steep learning curve, learning to sit-ski," says Soule, a member of the U.S. Paralympic team. He's strapped into a seat attached to two fixed cross-country skis. He speeds along the course by hauling himself with ski poles.

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