Health Desk

Shots - Health News
12:50 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Bariatric Surgery Cuts The Risk Of Death Years Later

A lap band displayed on a model of a human stomach. It creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach that makes people feel full more quickly.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 12:23 pm

Bariatric surgery is being widely promoted as the solution for people who are extremely obese, but so far most of the studies haven't followed enough people for enough time to really know if surgery helps improve health long term.

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Shots - Health News
11:43 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Medicaid's Western Push Hits Montana

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is giving Medicaid expansion another try.
Matt Volz AP

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 11:54 am

The Affordable Care Act is on the move in Western states, with the governors of Utah, Wyoming and Montana all working on deals with the Obama administration to expand Medicaid in ways tailored to each state.

But getting the federal stamp of approval is just the first hurdle. The governors also have to sell the change to their state legislators, who have their own ideas of how expansion should go.

The latest example is Montana, where the governor and the legislature have competing proposals about how much federal Medicaid expansion cash the state should try to bring in.

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The Salt
11:15 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Going Dry: The Benefits Of A Month Without Booze

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 1:11 pm

As New Year's resolutions go, cutting back on food and drink are right at the top of the list. And while those vowing to change their eating habits may cut the carbohydrates or say a sweet goodbye to sugar, for regular drinkers, the tradition may involve what's known as a "dry January": giving up booze for a month.

But could such a short-term breakup with alcohol really impart any measurable health benefits?

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NPR Story
4:00 am
Tue January 6, 2015

3 States Counter Obama's Proposal For Medicaid Expansion

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 12:15 pm

Copyright 2015 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.mtpr.org.

Shots - Health News
2:54 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Addiction Patients Overwhelm Vermont's Expanded Treatment Programs

Publicity from Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin's State of the State address last January drove up demand for addiction treatment in the state.
Andy Duback AP

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 10:11 am

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin attracted national attention last January when he devoted his entire State of the State address to Vermont's opiate addiction problem.

For the first time, he said, the number of people seeking drug addiction treatment had surpassed those getting help for alcoholism, and many had nowhere to go.

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Health
4:17 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Big Data Not A Cure-All In Medicine

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 5:31 pm

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

Goats and Soda
4:17 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

In The World's Rape Capital, Doctors Fight Violence With Science

Dr Dieudonne Masemo Bihehe and Dr. Tina Amissi are physicians at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, now doing research through ICART, a new research center to support Congolese scholarship.
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 7:17 pm

Tina Amissi grew up in a small village in the Democratic Republic of Congo with 26 brothers and sisters. When her mother insisted she drop out of school and help out around the house, it was her polygamous father — and his iron authority — who saved her.

Amissi's father supported her dream to go to medical school in the city of Bukavu. Even now, she gets so excited recounting the story that she can't stop from clapping.

"My father said, 'You'll leave your mother?' " Amissi recalls. "I said, 'Yes, yes, yes, yes, I'm going.' "

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Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

How A Position Of Power Can Change Your Voice

How would you sound in front of an NPR microphone?
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 10:46 am

Most radio reporters, I think it's fair to say, think about their voices a lot, and work to sound powerful and authoritative. I know my voice has changed since my very first radio story 10 years ago:

Compare that with how I sound these days:

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All Tech Considered
4:17 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Self-Tracking Gadgets That Play Doctor Abound At CES

The San Francisco-based startup CellScope has built a tool to do ear exams at home, instead of going to the doctor.
Cellscope

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 12:30 pm

When your kid's ear is throbbing at 2 a.m., you might want to grab the car keys and head to the emergency room. But now you can pick up your iPhone instead.

A startup called CellScope has built a little ear probe that you clip on top of your iPhone camera. The footage streams into an app where you can view the inside the ear.

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Goats and Soda
4:06 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

India's Philanthropist-Surgeon Delivers Cardiac Care Henry Ford-Style

Dr. Devi Shetty meets with a patient. The surgeon, who says heart disease is on the rise in India, has never turned away a patient who had no money to pay.
Julie McCarthy NPR

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 6:14 pm

Heart surgery is a spectacle to behold. Even more so to see it on a mass scale, which is what happens at the Narayana Health, a state-of-the-art medical center in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

I am invited to scrub up and witness renowned surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty at work. The operating room is a symphony of all things medical: monitors beeping out a metronome-like rhythm, forceps and scissors clanging onto metal tables, a heart-lung machine gurgling as it does the work of the patient's stopped heart, and, curiously, pop music drifting though the room.

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Shots - Health News
2:36 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

A Restraining Order Can Be Just A Videoconference Away

A videoconferencing system connects court officers with St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J.
Chris Cooper Courtesy of St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 5:31 pm

For victims of domestic violence, seeking legal protection can be intimidating. St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J., has found a way to make it a little less so.

Injured victims being treated at St. Joseph's can navigate the court process from their hospital beds.

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Shots - Health News
10:53 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Sleeping Near A Smartphone Can Disturb A Child's Rest

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 3:17 pm

The last thing my 11-year-old does before she goes to sleep is put her iPod on the nightstand. And that could mean less sleep for her, researchers say.

There's plenty of evidence that children who have televisions in their rooms get less sleep. This is one of the first studies to look at whether having a small screen like an iPod or smartphone in the room also affects rest.

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Shots - Health News
2:33 am
Mon January 5, 2015

What Heroin Addiction Tells Us About Changing Bad Habits

U.S. soldiers at Long Binh base in South Vietnam line up to give urine samples at a heroin detection center before departing for the United States. About 20 percent of soldiers said they were addicts, but most didn't continue drug use back home.
AP

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 3:15 pm

It's a tradition as old as New Year's: making resolutions. We will not smoke, or sojourn with the bucket of mint chocolate chip. In fact, we will resist sweets generally, including the bowl of M&M's that our co-worker has helpfully positioned on the aisle corner of his desk. There will be exercise, and the learning of a new language.

It is resolved.

So what does science know about translating our resolve into actual changes in behavior? The answer to this question brings us — strangely enough — to a story about heroin use in Vietnam.

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Starting Over
4:06 pm
Sun January 4, 2015

She Left The Nightlife Behind To Become A Life Coach

Mira Johnson took an unusual route on her journey to becoming a life coach.
Courtesy of Mira Johnson

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 2:45 pm

This is part of a series of stories about starting over, profiling people who, by choice or circumstance, reinvented or transformed themselves.

At just 32, Mira Johnson has made a lot of changes — some drastic. Her choices took her to low points, but also to where she is now: coaching others to make changes themselves.

Perhaps the best place to start her story is with a little-known saying about Portland, Ore.

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Your Health
7:08 am
Sun January 4, 2015

CDC Recommends Antiviral Drugs For At-Risk Patients

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 5:37 pm

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
4:33 am
Sun January 4, 2015

How Ebola Took A Toll On One American Church

Rev. John Harmon preaches at Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.
Courtesy of Rod Lewis

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 5:49 pm

On a typical Sunday, the pews in Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. are almost full. But a few months ago, the large stone church with stained glass windows in northwest Washington, D.C. began looking rather empty. Roughly a quarter of the congregation — 50 people — had stopped showing up.

At first, Rev. John Harmon, the head of the church, wasn't sure what was going on. Then he started getting phone calls from parishioners. "Some folks called to say, I'm not coming to church because I don't know who's traveling [to West Africa]," Harmon says.

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Goats and Soda
4:31 am
Sun January 4, 2015

If You Shouldn't Call It The Third World, What Should You Call It?

The question of what to call "the developing world" is a developing debate.
Jing Wei for NPR

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 6:50 pm

Our blog was born in 2014, and I'll let you in on a little secret: We had a really hard time coming up with our name. (See: "Why Goats? Why Soda?")

But that naming struggle was nothing compared with figuring out what to call the parts of the world we cover. Third World? Developing world? Global south? Low- and middle-income countries?

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Shots - Health News
4:29 am
Sun January 4, 2015

Paralympic Champion Makes The Case For Meningitis Vaccine

Amy Purdy, who lost both lower legs because of bacterial meningitis, performs with Derek Hough on Dancing With The Stars.
Adam Taylor ABC via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 3:15 pm

The last thing on your mind while you're home from school for the holidays is avoiding a deadly disease.

But imagine catching a disease as a teenager — a disease so terrible that it takes not just months to recover, but requires sacrificing both your legs.

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Shots - Health News
12:33 pm
Sat January 3, 2015

Rural Doctor Launches Startup To Ease Pain Of Dying Patients

Palliative medicine physician Michael Fratkin gets off a plane after visiting a patient on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. He's recently launched a startup to support this kind of work.
April Dembosky KQED

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 3:16 pm

Dr. Michael Fratkin is getting a ride to work today from a friend.

"It's an old plane. Her name's 'Thumper,' " says pilot Mark Harris, as he revs the engine of the tiny 1957 Cessna 182.

Fratkin is an internist and specialist in palliative medicine. He's the guy who comes in when the cancer doctors first deliver a serious diagnosis.

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Health
8:48 am
Sat January 3, 2015

Needle Exchange Program Creates Black Market In Clean Syringes

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 2:54 pm

On Friday afternoons, several dozen people line up in the narrow hallway of Prevention Point Philadelphia. The men and women, all ages, hold paper and plastic bags full of used syringes.

"We obviously have a space challenge, but people come in, they drop off their used syringes and they ask for what they need," says Silvana Mazzella, the director of programs at the service center for injection drug users.

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Goats and Soda
7:00 am
Sat January 3, 2015

U.N.'s Anthony Banbury: Zero Cases Of Ebola Is The Only Option

Anthony Banbury (second from left) just completed his final tour of West Africa before stepping down as the head of U.N.'s Ebola mission.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sat January 3, 2015 10:59 am

As the new year begins, the Ebola virus continues its deadly spread in West Africa. More than 20,000 are infected and nearly 8,000 have died throughout the region. The number of victims keeps climbing in Guinea and Sierra Leone, and dozens of new Ebola cases in Liberia this week mark a setback after recent improvements.

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Goats and Soda
5:27 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Our Most Popular Stories Of 2014: Ebola ... And Bed Rails?

John W. Poole/NPR; Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters/Corbis; Lisa Brown for NPR; Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images; Said&Seen

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 9:33 am

Back in July, NPR launched a new blog. It had a funny name, but a clear objective: To tell memorable stories about people who don't get much attention, who may face big problems, from health to poverty, but who still thrive.

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The Salt
4:51 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

A Resolution For Foodies Who Want To Do Good: Pick A Campaign

Originally published on Sat January 3, 2015 4:40 pm

Say you're kicking off 2015 with big plans to be a conscientious food consumer.

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Your Health
3:19 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Flu Vaccines Still Helpful Even When The Strain Is Different

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 5:23 pm

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

Transcript

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Shots - Health News
3:19 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Researchers Create Artificial Organs That Fit In Your Hand

Postdoctoral researcher Jennifer Foulke-Abel holds the gut-on-a-chip inside the lab at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 3:16 pm

Great balls of cells! Scientists are developing mock human organs that can fit in the palm of your hand.

These organs-on-a-chip are designed to test drugs and help understand the basics of how organs function when they are healthy and when they are diseased.

For instance, you have your gut-on-a-chip being developed at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. It's a high-tech approach to dealing with a scourge of the low-tech world.

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Shots - Health News
6:40 am
Fri January 2, 2015

How Will You Work Out When CrossFit Is No Longer Hip?

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 9:03 am

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Goats and Soda
2:24 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Where Could Ebola Strike Next? Scientists Hunt Virus In Asia

Ecologists found signs of Ebola in a Rousettus leschenaultii fruit bat. These bats are widespread across south Asia, from India to China.
Kevin Olival/EcoHealth Alliance

Originally published on Sat January 3, 2015 11:45 am

A few years ago, disease ecologist David Hayman made the discovery of a lifetime.

He was a graduate student at the University of Cambridge. But he spent a lot of that time hiking through the rain forest of Ghana, catching hundreds of fruit bats.

"We would set large nets, up in the tree canopies," he says. "And then early morning, when the bats are looking for fruit to feed on, we'd captured them."

Hayman didn't want to hurt the bats. He just wanted a few drops of their blood.

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Goats and Soda
3:38 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

Painful Virus Sweeps Central America, Gains A Toehold In U.S.

A woman protects her child's face in Managua, Nicaragua, as health workers fumigate for mosquitoes that carry chikungunya. The virus started spreading through Nicaragua and Mexico in the fall.
Esteban Felix AP

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 9:34 pm

Most of us will remember 2014 as the year Ebola came to the U.S. But another virus made its debut in the Western Hemisphere. And unlike Ebola, it's not leaving anytime soon.

The virus is called chikungunya: You pronounce it a bit like "chicken-goon-ya."

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Shots - Health News
2:49 am
Thu January 1, 2015

Ebola Aid Workers Still Avoiding New York And New Jersey

Last fall's state-ordered quarantine of nurse Kaci Hickox (shown here with her boyfriend, Theodore Michael Wilbur, in late October) started at the airport in Newark, N.J., then followed her home to Fort Kent, Maine. Hickox treated Ebola patients in Africa but never had the illness.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 9:40 am

Sara Back, a nurse practitioner at a public hospital in the Bronx, is not the kind of person to turn down a tough assignment. This month she's heading to Sierra Leone to work a short stint caring for Ebola patients.

"I am beyond ready," she says.

Back is passionate about treating patients suffering from the deadly disease. But she's not so keen on the mandatory 21-day quarantine she faces when she gets home.

"It's definitely a pain in the tush," she says. "I mean, jokingly, my colleagues say, 'Well, we'll see you in, like ... June.' "

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Global Health
4:33 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

A Haven In A Land Of Unsafe Abortions

Dr. Simmi Mahesh is the main doctor at the clinic, which opened four years ago. It now reaches out to 100 villages, up from 77.
Poulomi Basu for NPR

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 8:31 am

"In my village abortions do happen, but women hide it, they are ashamed of it," says Palo Khoya. "They worry that people will say nasty things." Khoya is one of the four women pictured above (top right). They have come to a small abortion clinic in Khunti, in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

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