Health Desk

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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Goats and Soda
2:32 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Mali Already Has An Ebola Cluster: Can The Virus Be Stopped?

A town crier rides his moped through the city of Kayes in Mali, using his megaphone to warn people about Ebola.
Nick Loomis Courtesy of Global Post

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 6:58 am

"This is not just one case," says Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It's a cluster." He's talking about the Ebola situation in Mali, where two people have likely died of the disease in Bamako, the capital, and two others have tested positive.

Hundreds more may have been exposed. Officials from the U.N., the World Health Organization, the government of Mali and the CDC are all calling for swift action to keep Mali from descending into the Ebola chaos that's hit neighboring Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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Shots - Health News
2:26 am
Fri November 14, 2014

State Health Insurance Exchanges Hope To Woo Urban Minorities

In one of Access Health CT's new video commercials, a barber explains to his clients why getting health insurance should be a priority.
Access Health CT

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 9:34 am

Tomorrow it begins again – open enrollment for Obamacare. Two very successful state health insurance exchanges, Connecticut's and California's, are both intent on reaching people who avoided signing up last year – especially young Latinos and African-Americans.

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Shots - Health News
3:12 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Hurricane Sandy Stranded Dialysis Patients. Lessons Learned?

A nurse adjusts the position of a patient's arm during dialysis treatment. The treatment requires trained staff that weren't readily available in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Michael Donne Science Source

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in October 2012, millions were affected by blackouts, empty gas stations and damaged homes. And, in addition to those losses, patients who require regular medical maintenance, like those who need frequent dialysis, were left in a bind.

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Goats and Soda
2:07 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Liberians Meet Death With Flowers, Trumpets And Cameras

The grandchildren of Rebecca "Mama" Barclay walked 2 miles to her burial site in 2011.
Gabriel B. Tait for NPR

When Rebecca "Mama" Barclay died in the summer of 2011, hundreds gathered for her funeral at a small Baptist church a few miles outside Liberia's capital, Monrovia. Men came in suits, women in black outfits or church robes and children in white to honor the 69-year-old woman, who was a respected community leader.

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Shots - Health News
12:40 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Poor Contact Lens Care Leads To A Whole Lot Of Eye Infections

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 8:38 am

If you've worn contact lenses, you know how easy it can be to let things slip a little. Maybe you don't wash and dry the case every day. Or you wear lenses in the shower. Or you try to eke a bit more wear out of a pair.

Well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is on to us, and it has a message: Stop it.

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Goats and Soda
10:57 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Yes, Doctor, I Took My Anti-HIV Meds (But Really, I Didn't)

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 1:37 pm

For years, health researchers have been excited about two new weapons in the war on HIV — a vaginal gel and a pill. Both reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission during intercourse and could give young women in Africa, where the virus is especially prevalent, a new way to protect themselves during sex.

There's just one problem: It's really difficult to get women to use them.

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Shots - Health News
10:10 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Preemies May Be Exposed To High Levels Of Phthalates In The NICU

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 9:06 am

Parents with a premature baby in the neonatal intensive care unit don't need one more thing to worry about. But researchers say that plasticizers used in medical equipment may pose unique risks to very small babies.

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The Two-Way
7:45 am
Thu November 13, 2014

3 Potential Ebola Therapies To Be Tested; Liberia Lifts Emergency

Medical workers will test the effectiveness of three new potential Ebola therapies at clinics run by the nongovernmental organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).
Zoom Dosso AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 11:55 am

Medical teams plan to start three clinical trials in the fight against the Ebola virus next month, administering the drugs at treatment centers run by Doctors Without Borders in West Africa. Two of the therapies involve antiviral drugs.

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Global Health
4:13 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Swiss Health Officials Try New Ways To Combat Ebola

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 6:54 am

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
5:13 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Ebola In 3-D: A Video Game To Guide Health Care Workers Through A Ward

A screenshot from a demo of the Ebola-training video game.
Courtesy of Shift Labs

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 7:47 pm

Could you walk through an Ebola treatment center in Liberia without catching the virus?

Soon you may be able to find out from the comfort of your living room. Shift Labs, a Seattle-based tech outfit, has developed a prototype for a video game that could be used to train health workers on duty in West Africa.

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Shots - Health News
4:08 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

The Risk Of Brain Injuries Shifts As Children Grow Up

As children grow, they learn to crawl, to walk and then to drive. It turns out, the way they get hurt, and in particular their heads, evolves as as their forms of motion change.

Small children suffer head injuries from falling, while teenagers are at risk from car accidents, assaults and sports injuries, according to a paper published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Goats and Soda
2:25 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Mali Is Worried About Ebola, Quarantines Nearly 100

A police officer stands in front of the Pasteur clinic in Bamako, which was quarantined after a nurse there died from Ebola.
Habibou Kouyate AFP/Getty Images

Mali slapped quarantine orders on nearly 90 people on Wednesday and closed a mosque and a health facility in an effort to contain an Ebola outbreak.

The moves come after a nurse at a private clinic in the capital, Bamako, was confirmed as an Ebola victim.

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All Tech Considered
2:02 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Innovation: Smart Yoga Mat Could Help You Find Your Zen

The SmartMat is a responsive yoga mat that seeks to improve one's yoga practice. Microsensors embedded in the mat record and provide adjustments to the user in real time.
Courtesy of SmartMat

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 6:53 pm

If you've ever tried yoga, you know it can be difficult to find your balance in a downward dog or pigeon pose. Especially if you lack flexibility like me.

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Shots - Health News
12:01 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Training The Next Generation Of Doctors To Get LGBT Health Right

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 2:03 pm

If you're gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender, odds are that you've had a doctor flinch or flounder through an appointment. The next generation of physicians needs to do better, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced Tuesday.

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Shots - Health News
2:47 am
Wed November 12, 2014

How Animals Hacked The Rainbow And Got Stumped On Blue

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 10:56 pm

Until about 600 million years ago, seeing colors didn't matter so much to Earth's inhabitants — nobody had eyes.

"Before the eye evolved, you just wouldn't have seen what was there," says Andrew Parker, a biologist at London's Natural History Museum who studies the evolution of color.

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Back At Base
5:01 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

The Prosthetics Industry Gets A Human Touch

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab created an electronic prosthetic hand and arm that has the same dexterity as a human arm. Electronic prosthetics are the biggest area of growth in this industry.
Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 2:57 pm

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the latest in the ongoing series.

"There's been more advancement in the field of prosthetics since 1945 than there has been in the entire automobile industry," says Mark Vukov, a clinical education manager at College Park Industries, a manufacturer of prosthetic feet.

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Back At Base
4:55 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Vet's Self-Cooling Prosthetic Could Help Amputees Beat The Heat

Gary Walters demonstrates his self-cooling prosthetic.
Leto Solutions via YouTube

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 2:58 pm

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base," and this is the second installment of the ongoing series.

It was 2005, and Gary Walters had served a year in Iraq. Then, one day, a bomb went off near him, and he suffered severe wounds.

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Shots - Health News
4:31 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Medicare Poised To Cover CT Scans To Screen For Lung Cancer

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 10:28 am

The evidence has been piling up that properly done CT scans can help doctors find tiny lung tumors in longtime smokers while the cancer can still be treated effectively.

Now Medicare is proposing to pay for annual scans for beneficiaries at a high risk for lung cancer. To qualify, patients would have to first meet with a doctor to talk through the pros and cons of scans, which involve a low-dose of radiation.

Patients would have to be:

  • Between the ages 55 and 74;
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Goats and Soda
4:08 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Facebook Friends Ebola Relief; Google Searches For Donations

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has launched an Ebola donation campaign on the website and tossed in $25 million of his money to help fight the virus.
Ben Margot AP

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 1:46 pm

If you're one of the billions of people who use Facebook and Google on a daily basis, you may have noticed some new messaging coming from the websites themselves. Both companies have launched Ebola relief fundraising campaigns in the past week, calling on their massive user logs (translation for nonsocial-media experts: all the people who waste time on these websites every day) to donate money to the cause.

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Shots - Health News
3:55 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Surprise Medical Bills: ER Is In Network, But Doctor Isn't

Ouch! Jeffrey Craig Hopper got good emergency treatment after being hit in the eye with a baseball in June. But months later he was slapped with an extra medical bill he never expected.
Jennifer Hopper

Originally published on Thu November 13, 2014 10:28 am

Jeffrey Craig Hopper is a probate attorney and Little League coach in Austin, Texas, so he knows all about following the rules. Still, accidents happen. Last June on the Little League field, an errant baseball smashed into his face.

His wife, Jennifer, remembers rushing to the field.

"His eye was swollen shut enough that we weren't sure if he could see," she says.

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Goats and Soda
3:44 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

A Dysentery Sample From A WWI Soldier Sheds Light On Drug Resistance

Private Ernest Cable was buried in a cemetery in Wimereux, France. He died from dysentery in a hotel turned hospital in the northern French town.
Courtesy of Genome Research Ltd

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 4:56 pm

In the early months of World War I, British Pvt. Ernest Cable was a member of the 2nd Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. Records show that in early 1915, his regiment was fighting in the trenches of Flanders, Belgium.

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Health Care
3:17 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Affordable Care Act Has Many Political And Legal Challenges Ahead

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 5:55 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Changing Lives Of Women
3:17 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

For Modern Women, 'Ladylike' Means Strong And Sporty

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 5:24 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Salt
11:41 am
Tue November 11, 2014

A Glimmer Of Hope In The Fight Against Hunger In America

Volunteers pass out fresh vegetables for a Thanksgiving meal at the Alameda Food Bank in Alameda, Calif., in 2009. The percentage of Americans who report struggling to afford food has remained stubbornly near recession-era highs.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 1:15 pm

For those on the front lines of fighting hunger in America, the past half-decade has been like running on empty. The Great Recession that began in 2007 left millions of families struggling with tough choices, like whether to pay for housing or dinner.

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Shots - Health News
10:40 am
Tue November 11, 2014

The Burden Of Colon Cancer Shifts From Rich To Poor

Colorectal cancer deaths per 100,000 people by level of education and race.
Alison Bruzek NPR

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 12:35 pm

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women in the U.S. It used to be that wealthy, white northerners had the highest death rates. But in the past few decades the trend has shifted, and now the people at highest risk are poor, black southerners.

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Goats and Soda
10:04 am
Tue November 11, 2014

How 'The Hot Zone' Got It Wrong And Other Tales Of Ebola's History

David Quammen's new book is an extended excerpt of his previous one, Spillover, which explored how dangerous pathogens jump from animals to people.
Courtesy of David Quammen

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 1:13 pm

In his new book about Ebola, science writer David Quammen has some harsh words for the author of another book about the virus — Richard Preston's best-seller The Hot Zone.

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