Health Desk

Over the past three weeks, people have been tumbling into emergency rooms across the country, seriously ill after using a synthetic drug known as K2 or spice.

We've all heard that an aspirin a day can keep heart disease at bay. But lots of Americans seem to be taking it as a preventive measure, when many probably shouldn't.

In a recent national survey, more than half the adults who were middle age or older reported taking an aspirin regularly to prevent a heart attack or stroke. The Food and Drug Administration only recommends the drug for people wh have already experienced such an event or are at extremely high risk.

A healthy diet is good for everyone. But as people get older, cooking nutritious food can become difficult and sometimes physically impossible. A pot of soup can be too heavy to lift. And there's all that time standing on your feet. It's one of the reasons that people move into assisted living facilities.

But a company called Chefs for Seniors has an alternative: They send professional cooks into seniors' homes. In a couple of hours they can whip up meals for the week.

flickr/Pictures By Ann

Illinois could join a handful of states that allow cameras to be installed in the rooms of nursing home residents. 

Supporters say it would give families peace of mind to have electronic monitoring of the care their loved ones receive.   But there are also concerns, especially when it comes to privacy:

"Nursing homes, a lot of people tend to forget... that is their home," Hinsdale Republican Representative Patti Bellock said.

Supporters say the cameras would only be installed when the resident or family agrees.  They would also have to cover the cost. 

Poor old Dr. Krebs. His painstaking Nobel-winning work on cellular metabolism, called the Krebs cycle, has made him the symbol for what's ailing medical education.

"Why do I need to know this stuff?" medical students ask me.

"How many times have you used the Krebs Cycle lately?" senior doctors jokingly reminisce.

One day soon, you may be waiting in line for a coffee, eyeing a pastry, when your smart watch buzzes with a warning.

Flashing on the tiny screen of your Apple Watch is a message from an app called Lark, suggesting that you lay off the carbs for today. Speak into the Apple Watch's built-in mic about your food, sleep and exercise, and the app will send helpful tips back to you.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A new U.S. government official took an oath of office this week.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SESAME STREET")

RYAN DILLON: (As Elmo) Hi, Dr. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA.

If you like the idea of zero or low-calorie sodas, but you're turned off by the artificial sweetener aspartame, you're not alone.

Sales of diet soda have fallen off significantly in the U.S. And when PepsiCo started asking consumers what they didn't like, aspartame was at the top of the list.

"It's literally the number-one complaint we've heard from diet-cola consumers as to why they're drinking less and less diet cola, " Seth Kaufman, a senior vice president for PepsiCo, tells The Salt.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the U.S. epidemic of opioid abuse could lead to more severe outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C nationally, much like the outbreak now seen in Indiana. A health advisory the agency released Friday outlines steps that state health departments and medical providers should take to minimize the risk of that happening.

The global battle against malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases faces plenty of obstacles. Among them: a pandemic of fake and poor-quality medicines.

Think back to the last time you got negative feedback — like when your doctor suggested you lay off the cigarettes or when your mother advised you to get rid of that ridiculous goatee.

Though we all understand the value of constructive criticism, we don't like hearing that we've done something wrong. And the knee-jerk reaction is to act defensive.

But if you focus on the big picture and future goals, you may be able to trick your mind into being a bit more receptive.

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting Organized

About Bruce Feiler's TED Talk

Parents help their kids manage their lives. But according to Bruce Feiler, it can work the other way around. It just takes a little insight drawn from Japanese computer programming principles.

About Bruce Feiler

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Startups fail for a lot of reasons: bad product, wrong timing. But sometimes, it's just you.

Relationship problems between co-founders are among the biggest reasons companies don't make it. Increasingly in Silicon Valley, business partners are looking for help before things go downhill — they're signing up for couples counseling.

The simple act of thinking can accelerate the growth of many brain tumors.

That's the conclusion of a paper in Cell published Thursday that showed how activity in the cerebral cortex affected high-grade gliomas, which represent about 80 percent of all malignant brain tumors in people.

For the first time, scientists have edited DNA in human embryos, a highly controversial step long considered off limits.

Junjiu Huang and his colleagues at the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, performed a series of experiments involving 86 human embryos to see if they could make changes in a gene known as HBB, which causes the sometimes fatal blood disorder beta-thalassemia.

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

Privately run Medicare plans, fresh off a lobbying victory that reversed proposed budget cuts, face new scrutiny from government investigators and whistleblowers who allege that plans have overcharged the government for years.

You can take your drinks outside on Bourbon Street, but you can no longer bring your smokes indoors.

Effective Wednesday, New Orleans has banned smoking in bars, restaurants and casinos.

The New York Times published an intriguing look at the city's nightlife spots as the ban went into effect.

Here's an excerpt:

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A study that asked a few dozen pairs of twins to brave a swarm of hungry mosquitoes has revealed another clue to the cluster of reasons the insects are more attracted to some people than others: Genes matter.

Belle Gibson is an Australian blogger who said she cured her terminal brain cancer solely through diet and lifestyle, spawning a wellness empire, an award-winning app, a recipe book and a large online following. Trouble is, Gibson now says she made it all up.

Sexual relationships in long-term care facilities are not uncommon. But the long-term care industry is still grappling with the issue.

On April 20, 2015, the body of a 27-year-old mother of two was laid to rest in a village in India. She had been admitted to the hospital ten days earlier, with bleeding in the head and a spinal injury that left her paralyzed. She told authorities she had slipped and fallen. NPR contributor Wilbur Sargunaraj had the opportunity to speak with three of her close friends, who said her husband caused her death. Family members would not comment.

Editor's note: A version of this story ran in April 2014.

Yes, it is true that gardening requires patience.

But face it, we live in an impatient world. And gardeners everywhere were depressed by the brutal and endless winter.

So we are understandably eager to get sowing. And to see results by ... well, if not next Thursday, then maybe mid-May?

For all their talk about evidence-based medicine, a lot of doctors don't follow the clinical guidelines set by leading medical groups.

Consider, for example, the case of cataract surgery. It's a fairly straightforward medical procedure: Doctors replace an eye's cloudy lens with a clear, prosthetic one. More than a million people each year in the U.S. have the surgery — most of them older than 65.

Is It Time To Make Medical And Family Leave Paid?

Apr 22, 2015

It's been more than 20 years since passage of the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for medical or family reasons without losing their jobs.

Bird flu has been striking chicken and turkey farms in parts of the West and Midwest. This past week, it hit a flock of millions egg-laying chickens in northeastern Iowa. Update 4/22/2015: The USDA now says that around 3 million birds were affected in the Iowa facility — down from a previous estimate of 5 million.

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