Health Desk

Goats and Soda
3:25 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Measles Still Kills 400 Kids A Day — And It May Be Making A Comeback

This month, a doctor gives a measles vaccine to a child in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.
Mohammed Howais AFP/Getty Images

Measles might be preparing for a comeback tour.

Unlike Ebola, measles easily leaps between people. Virus-filled droplets linger, floating in the air or coating a coffee table for up to two hours after a contagious person coughs or sneezes. If you're susceptible to the disease and you breathe that air or touch a contaminated surface and then rub your eyes, you're screwed. Measles infects 90 percent of those who are not immune.

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Shots - Health News
12:51 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

More States Adopt Laws To Ease Access To Experimental Treatments

When should a patient in dire condition be allowed to try an experimental treatment?
BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 11:00 am

On Election Day, Arizona voters approved a referendum that allows terminally ill patients to receive treatment with drugs and devices that haven't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Arizona became the fifth state to approve a so-called right-to-try law this year.

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Health Care
4:18 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Native Americans Urged To Sign Up For Private Insurance

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 7:24 am

Copyright 2014 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.mtpr.org.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Global Health
4:06 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Sierra Leone Colleagues Mourn Dr. Salia, Who Succumbed To Ebola

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 8:09 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
2:32 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Doctor Shortage Looming? Maybe Not

Victoria Elizabeth Fischer was presented with a white coat by her grandfather, Dr. Christian Van Den Heuvel, at Georgetown University School of Medicine in August. The ceremony marks the start for each new class of medical students.
Lisa Helfert Courtesy of Georgetown University

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 1:34 pm

The United States is facing a critical shortage of doctors that could seriously jeopardize the ability of a patient to get medical care in the coming years.

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Planet Money
2:31 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Guarding The Ebola Border

Thieu Patrice, Tan Benjamin and village chief Gueu Denis of Gahapleu, Ivory Coast, stand on the path to Liberia.
Gregory Warner NPR

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 9:22 am

On a map, a border is a solid black line. On the ground, it can feel like a fiction. I'm standing on the edge of a shallow stream through the forest that separates two West African countries: Ivory Coast and Liberia. Here there is no fence. No sign. No border guard to prevent my crossing.

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Goats and Soda
4:39 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

For Babies, Preterm Birth Is Now The No. 1 Cause Of Death

Premature and sick babies are cared for in the neonatal unit at Isaie Jeanty maternity hospital, operated by Doctors Without Borders in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 7:30 pm

Babies around the world face a lot of risks to their health: pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria, to name a few.

But it turns out that no single infectious disease takes a greater toll than the simple fact of being born premature.

Premature birth is now the single largest cause of death among babies and young children. Every year, 1.09 million children under age 5 die due to health complications that stem from being born before week 37 of pregnancy (a 40-week pregnancy is considered full-term).

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Mental Health
4:06 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Toxic Tau Of Alzheimer's May Offer A Path To Treatment

A tangle of protein (green) in this scanning electron micrograph of a brain cell of an Alzheimer's patient lies within the cytoplasm (blue) of the cell. The tangle consists of clumps of a toxic form of tau.
Thomas J. Deerinck Corbis

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 8:08 am

After years of setbacks, Alzheimer's researchers are sounding optimistic again. The reason: a brain protein called tau.

At this year's Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, D.C., there are more than 100 papers on tau, which is responsible for the tangles that form in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. In the past, tau has received less attention than another protein called amyloid beta, which causes the sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer's.

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Global Health
4:06 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Mourners Gather To Remember Surgeon Who Died Of Ebola

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 8:59 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
4:06 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

The Guy Who Delivers HIV Medicine On His Bicycle

Sizwe Nzima, right, and one of his six employees deliver medicines to patients in a Cape Town neighborhood.
Anders Kelto for NPR

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 8:59 pm

He was sitting in a clinic. Waiting. And waiting. And waiting for his grandparents' HIV medicine.

Sizwe Nzima was a high school student in Cape Town, South Africa, when he would pick up the medicine for his HIV-positive grandparents, who had difficulty traveling to the clinic themselves. Because of the long lines, Nzima usually waited hours and often made multiple trips to the clinic before and after school. He tried to bribe the pharmacists to get the medication sooner. But it didn't work.

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Shots - Health News
3:24 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Are Modafinil's Brain-Boosting Benefits Hype Or Science?

Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 8:08 am

Nobody gets enough sleep these days and everyone needs to work harder. Sometimes coffee just doesn't seem like it's enough. Thus the temptation to apply pharmacology to thinking smarter, faster and longer.

One option is modafinil, a prescription drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat narcolepsy. "I feel like a well-oiled machine 5 days a week on 5 hrs a night," one poster who uses modafinil writes on Reddit.

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Goats and Soda
3:15 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Why Sterilization Is The Most Popular Form Of Family Planning

Women who underwent sterilization surgery at a government-run camp were hospitalized in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh after 13 patients died following the procedure.
Anindito Mukherjee Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 9:30 am

Last week, 13 women died in India after undergoing sterilization procedures in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, possibly because of tainted pills administered after the surgery. This tragedy has cast a negative light on sterilization.

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Shots - Health News
3:08 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

In California, That MRI Will Cost You $255 — Or Maybe $6,221

Andy Warner/KQED

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 8:53 am

Prices for common medical tests like mammograms and MRIs are notoriously opaque. Negotiated rates between insurance companies and doctors or hospitals are sealed tight by contract. We know there's price variation, but comparing what one insurance company pays versus another is virtually impossible.

That's why we here at KQED in San Francisco turned to members of our audience to help us find out what medical tests and devices cost.

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Goats and Soda
1:02 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

In Sierra Leone, Tears And Wails Mark The Death Of Dr. Martin Salia

Dr. Martin Salia, shown in April, died today after being diagnosed with Ebola. He's being hailed in his native Sierra Leone as a "great hero."
Mike DuBose UMNS

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 2:23 pm

When word spread through Sierra Leone's capital that Dr. Martin Salia had died this morning, a throng of patients and colleagues rushed to the gate of one of the hospitals where he had worked to find out if it was really true.

"People were crying, people were wailing, they were shouting. Some of the staff who came around were rolling on the ground," says Leonard Gbloh, administrator of Freetown's Kissy United Methodist Hospital, who witnessed the scene. "We're in a state of shock. We are really mourning the death of a great hero."

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Shots - Health News
12:49 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Controversial Cholesterol Drug Redeemed By Global Clinical Test

Fresh data show that Vytorin, a combination pill for cholesterol, cuts the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Getty Images Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 8:16 am

The wheels of drug research grind slowly, but they can grind exceedingly fine.

Merck said Monday that its cholesterol drug Vytorin was vindicated by a nine-year-long clinical study that aimed to find out if adding a drug that blocked the absorption of cholesterol to a statin, long the gold standard for cholesterol care, would help patients at a high risk of heart attack and stroke.

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Shots - Health News
10:46 am
Mon November 17, 2014

What's In His Kiss? 80 Million Bacteria

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 11:34 am

If your partner's kiss is on your lips, his microbes are, too.

A passionate kiss that lasts more than 10 seconds transfers about 80 million bacteria, researchers say. The evidence, published Sunday in the journal Microbiome, comes from 21 couples, ages 17 to 45, who made out for science. (Tough gig.)

Each couple had their mouths swabbed and spit to measure the bacteria in their mouths. Even before kissing, the couples had similar mouth bacteria.

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Health Desk
7:47 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Federal Health Care Subsidies Could Be At Risk For Illinois Residents

Credit flickr/ThomasAnderson

The U.S. Supreme court has agreed to take up a case that could put the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy. But health care advocates in the state are still urging residents to check out their options as the second enrollment period for Obamacare is underway.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether federal subsidies can be given to residents in states, like Illinois, that did not create their own online marketplaces. In the meantime, subsidies to help cover the cost of insurance will still be available.

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Research News
4:29 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Researchers Suggest Ways To Make Pill Swallowing Easier

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 2:23 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Global Health
4:17 am
Mon November 17, 2014

A Deadly Chain: Tracing Ebola In A Sierra Leone Village

Foday Kamara is the leader of Royail, a tiny village now battling Ebola.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 12:50 pm

It began with a little boy.

A 4-year-old who was feeling sick. His family sent him to a neighboring village called Royail, where his grandmother lives, so she could care for him.

In this tiny place, surrounded by tall grass and palm trees, the grandmother lived in a house on a dirt road. Her name was Sinnah Turay, but people refer to her as "the mami-back" — that's what some folks in Sierra Leone call a grandmother.

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Shots - Health News
2:41 am
Mon November 17, 2014

The Power Of Suggestion Could Trigger Asthma — Or Treat It

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 3:41 pm

Lots of things can trigger an asthma attack, but one of the most common causes is odor — anything from the heavy scent of perfume to a household cleaner.

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The Two-Way
6:17 pm
Sun November 16, 2014

HealthCare.gov Has Improved, But Obamacare Still Faces Problems

People wait to enter an Affordable Care Act enrollment event sponsored by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West and Community Coalition in Los Angeles. Healthcare.gov's second enrollment period opened Saturday. More 100,000 people applied in the first day.
Michael Chavez AP

The second enrollment period at HealthCare.gov began Saturday, and so far, it's gone much more smoothly than the start of last year's first open enrollment, which was full of glitches and saw only a handful of people able to enroll the first day.

The Department of Health and Human Services said that on Saturday alone, more than 100,000 people applied for healthcare on the site, and more than half a million people logged on.

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Health
4:05 pm
Sat November 15, 2014

Despite Criticism, Affordable Care Act Soldiers On

Originally published on Sat November 15, 2014 4:27 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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The Two-Way
3:53 pm
Sat November 15, 2014

Ebola-Infected Doctor Arrives In Nebraska For Treatment

Health workers in protective suits transport Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon working in Sierra Leone who has been diagnosed with Ebola, from a jet that brought him from Sierra Leone to a waiting ambulance in Omaha, Neb., on Saturday.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 10:13 am

A surgeon who became infected with Ebola while in Sierra Leone, the West Africa country hard-hit by the virus, has arrived in Nebraska for treatment.

Dr. Martin Salia, 44, was being transported to the University of Nebraska Medical Center after landing at an Air Force base in Omaha.

Salia was diagnosed on Monday while still in Africa. His condition is considered critical. Nebraska Medical Center said in a statement that Salia is "possibly sicker than the first patients successfully treated in the United States."

The Associated Press says:

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Shots - Health News
6:49 am
Sat November 15, 2014

They Paid How Much? How Negotiated Deals Hide Health Care's Cost

Sal Morales found an Obamacare health plan this year that costs him $145 per month — versus the $560 he'd been paying.
Courtesy of The Miami Herald

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 12:43 pm

As Americans begin shopping again for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act on Saturday, they'll be wrestling with premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket costs and other vague and confusing insurance-speak.

Believe it or not, that's the easy part compared with figuring out what health care actually costs.

Sal Morales of Miami bought insurance in March during the ACA's first enrollment period on the HealthCare.gov website.

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Goats and Soda
4:20 am
Sat November 15, 2014

Doctor, Put On Your PPE And Go Into The ETU, Stat!

One of the most commonly heard Ebola acronyms is PPE, for personal protective equipment. Above, the proper way to don PPE is demonstrated at a CDC presentation. If you're not sure what CDC stands for, see the list of acronyms below.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 15, 2014 4:22 am

As part of UNMEER, WHO — along with GoL, GoSL and NGOS like IMC and MSF — has been fighting the EVD crisis, making sure doctors correctly put on PPEs according to CDC guidelines. Meanwhile WFP is sending in food and DETT from JFC-UA are training health workers who will staff pending ETUs in Liberia.

Did you guess that I was writing about the Ebola outbreak?

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Shots - Health News
4:51 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

HealthCare.gov Head Says Site Is Tested And 'Ready To Go'

The second open enrollment period for buying health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act starts Saturday.
Don Ryan AP

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 5:40 pm

It's being challenged in the Supreme Court. Members of the new Republican Congress want to repeal it. But Obamacare will get a second chance on Saturday, when enrollment opens again in the government-sponsored health exchanges.

The Obama administration is expecting over 3 million new enrollees and almost 6 million return customers. And while the system faces some challenges, the government says it's up to the task.

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Goats and Soda
4:29 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

How Bacteria In The Gut Help Fight Off Viruses

You've got a trillion friends in low places: Bacteria in the gut may protect against viruses by signaling their presence to your immune system.
Michael DeForge for NPR

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 6:56 pm

If it was a snake, it would have bitten us.

The secret to stopping a deadly stomach virus may be sitting right there in our guts, scientists reported Thursday in the journal Science. Or more specifically, the treatment is in our microbiome — the trillions of bacteria that inconspicuously hang out in the GI tracts.

Immunologists at Georgia State University found that a tiny piece of gut bacteria can prevent and cure a rotavirus infection in mice.

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Shots - Health News
3:29 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

More Squash, Less Bacon: Calculating Your Real-Life Heart Risk

Here's my risk profile. Note the risky red heart due to bacon-eating.
Courtesy of Harvard Public Health

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 12:16 pm

Cardiovascular risk calculators usually expect you to know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. I have enough trouble remembering my email password.

So this new calculator from the Harvard School of Public Health may be a boon for people like me. It's designed to more accurately gauge risk for people who are in their 40s and 50s, especially women. And it does that by focusing on how lifestyle factors like diet and exercise affect heart disease risk, rather than numbers.

It may be the first data-driven risk predictor based on healthful lifestyle factors.

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NPR Ed
3:28 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Why These Kids Love Kale

Cory Turner NPR

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 4:25 pm

A question for all you parents out there: Are your kids still working their way through a pile of Halloween candy?

Maybe you've even confiscated some, to give back as a reward for eating the healthy, green things they don't like. Things like ... kale.

Well, imagine an alternate universe, where kids talk about kale as if it is candy.

Welcome to Watkins Elementary in Washington, D.C.

"All I know is that I like to eat kale," says 9-year-old Alex Edwards. "I like it, I like it, I like it!"

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Health Desk
6:41 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Veterans Clinic May Be Named After Lane Evans

A bipartisan effort to name a veterans facility in Galesburg, Illinois, after the late Lane Evans is underway.  
 U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos introduced legislation Thursday in Congress to name the Galesburg Veterans Affairs clinic after Evans.  

The former congressman from Illinois died last week at age 63 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Evans had fought for veterans' rights during his 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

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