Health Desk

The Two-Way
10:09 am
Sun November 9, 2014

Maine Nurse To Move Out Of State Following Ebola Quarantine Row

Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, say they will leave Maine when their self-monitoring for Ebola expires this week.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Sun November 9, 2014 2:28 pm

The boyfriend of Kaci Hickox, the nurse who defiantly refused to self-quarantine after she returned from West Africa, says the couple will move out of Maine this week after a state court order restricting their movement expires.

Ted Wilbur withdrew from a nursing program at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, where the couple lives, and said Friday that he and Hickox were "going to try to get our lives back on track" by leaving the state.

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Africa
6:49 am
Sun November 9, 2014

Hand-Pumped Anesthesia Could Help With Surgeries In The Dark

Originally published on Sun November 9, 2014 11:13 am

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

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Sun November 9, 2014

Reggae Vibe, Ebola Message: African Superstars Try To Go Viral

Mariam and Amadou, both from Mali, add their voices to the song "Africa Stop Ebola."
Sia Kambou AFP/Getty Images

It's the biggest Ebola song yet.

Just as stars like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder came together in 1985 to sing "We Are the World" and raise money for Ethiopian famine relief, 12 acclaimed African musicians have united to marry music and message.

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Health
4:51 pm
Sat November 8, 2014

Obese Women Make Less Money, Work More Physically Demanding Jobs

A recent study found obese women are more likely than other women to work physically demanding jobs, like the kind that call for hard hats. They're less likely to work in jobs that require a lot of interaction with clients and customers — jobs that, on average, make more money.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun November 9, 2014 6:34 am

Being overweight hurts your earnings, and being an overweight woman is particularly tough on income. Back in 2004, a landmark study found that a 65-pound increase in a woman's weight is associated with a 9-percent drop in earnings. The authors of the study noted that, in terms of wages, the "obesity penalty" basically amounted to losing three years of experience in the workplace.

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Law
3:54 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Supreme Court Agrees To Hear New Health Law Challenge

A counselor for the health care law speaks with taxi driver David Bilewu, a 39-year-old Nigerian immigrant in Chicago. Illinois set up its exchange through a federal partnership.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 7:11 pm

In a rare and unexpected move, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a new challenge to the Obama health care overhaul, dealing the White House yet another blow this week. Health care experts say an adverse ruling would be catastrophic for the health insurance program that the president has fought to enact and preserve.

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Shots - Health News
3:21 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Transgender Men Who Become Pregnant Face Social, Health Challenges

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 4:03 pm

"Pregnancy and childbirth were very male experiences for me," said a 29-year-old respondent in a study reported Friday in Obstetrics and Gynecology. "When I birthed my children, I was born into fatherhood."

If this statement at first seems perplexing, it's less so when you realize the person talking is a transgender man – someone who has transitioned from a female identity to a male or masculine identity.

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Shots - Health News
1:46 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

In Surprise Move, Supreme Court Takes On Fate Of Obamacare Again

Time for a replay?: Protesters waited outside the Supreme Court for decisions in June.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 2:48 pm

Once again the Supreme Court will decide whether the Affordable Care Act lives or dies.

Defying expectations, the court announced Friday it has agreed to hear a case that challenges the heart of the law: subsidies that help people pay their insurance premiums. In about three dozen states, the federal government runs the online marketplaces (exchanges) where individuals can find health plans.

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The Salt
1:23 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Can A Smell-Emitting Fork Alter How We Savor Flavor?

The "Aroma R-evolution" kit comes with four forks and 21 vials full of aromas like olive oil, mint and smoke. You drop a dab of scented liquid onto the base of the fork, and the smell is supposed to subtly flavor the food you eat while using the utensil.
Claire Eggers NPR

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 4:22 pm

The flavors we savor are never just about taste.

Our taste buds allow us to distinguish the basic characteristics of food, like sweet, salty, bitter and sour. But we use our noses to sense more subtle flavors. Our sense of smell is what allows us to savor fine wines, delicately seasoned broths and complex curries.

So is it possible to trick our brains into thinking we're tasting something, when we're only just smelling it?

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Shots - Health News
11:12 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Electronic Medical Records, Built For Efficiency, Often Backfire

A survey of more than 400 doctors asked how electronic medical records had affected their free time on the job. The answers weren't pretty.
NPR

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 1:38 pm

Electronic medical records were supposed to usher in the future of medicine.

Prescriptions would be beamed to the pharmacy. A doctor could call up patients' medical histories anywhere, anytime. Nurses and doctors could easily find patients' old lab results or last X-rays to see what how they're doing. The computer system could warn doctors about dangerous drug combinations before it was too late.

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Goats and Soda
8:30 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Guinea Is Seeing More Ebola Cases: Can The Trend Be Stopped?

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 1:08 pm

In the current Ebola crisis, much of the focus has been on Liberia and Sierra Leone. But the virus also continues to spread in Guinea, where the first case in the current outbreak was identified in March.

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Shots - Health News
2:27 am
Fri November 7, 2014

How A Tilt Toward Safety Stopped A Scientist's Virus Research

Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome virus particles cling to the surface of an infected cell.
NIAID/Flickr

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 3:27 pm

As cases of a worrisome respiratory virus continue to pop up in the Middle East, scientists who study it in the U.S. are struggling to understand how they'll be affected by a government moratorium on certain kinds of experiments.

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Shots - Health News
4:37 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Flu Season Brings Stronger Vaccines And Revised Advice

Which flu vaccine should you get? That may depend on your age and your general health.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 5:33 pm

The symptoms of the flu are familiar: fever, chills, cough, congestion, feeling very, very tired. If you're a healthy adult under 65, you'll most likely recover in a week or two.

But for those older than 65, things can get worse fast, says Dr. H. Keipp Talbot, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.

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Politics
3:43 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Republicans' First Order Of Business May Be Chipping Away At Obamacare

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 5:33 pm

Now that the Republicans control the House and Senate, they've got their eyes on the Affordable Care Act. Which parts will President Obama veto and which parts will he inevitably have to give up? Melissa Block talks to Mary Agnes Carey, a senior correspondent for Kaiser Health News.

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Global Health
1:13 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

In Liberia, Ebola Makes 'Pariahs' Out Of The Sick, Says NYT Reporter

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

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
11:51 am
Thu November 6, 2014

You're Growing Older ... Is Your Life Getting Better Or Worse?

A Kenyan senior citizen leans on his cane. As people age in parts of Africa, they report declining levels of satisfaction with their life.
Roberto Schmidt AFP/Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy once said that GDP, or gross domestic product, "measures everything ... except that which makes life worthwhile."

GDP, in case you weren't paying attention in Econ 101, looks at economic activity as a way to size up how a country is doing.

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Shots - Health News
11:31 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Fewer Babies Are Born Prematurely, But Many Still Suffer

The March of Dimes gives the United States an overall "C" grade in preventing preterm births.
Courtesy of The March of Dimes Foundation

The number of babies born too early dropped to 11.4 percent of all births in 2013, the best number in 17 years.

But that's still more than 450,000 children being born too early. Those babies face in increased risk of death, and those who survive are more likely to have problems including intellectual disability, vision or hearing loss, cerebral palsy and breathing trouble.

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Goats and Soda
10:46 am
Thu November 6, 2014

If You Think You'll Never See A Poem About Malaria, You're Wrong

Poet Cameron Conaway (left, in gray cap) visits malaria-hit areas in the Chittagong Tract Hills, Bangladesh, in June 2012.
Courtesy of Cameron Conaway

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 12:46 pm

Before traveling to Thailand in 2011, American poet Cameron Conaway viewed malaria as many Westerners do: a remote disease summed up by factoids:

It's borne by mosquitoes.

Half the world's population — 3.4 billion people — is at risk of catching it.

The disease claims 627,000 lives a year – that's one death every minute.

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Shots - Health News
6:36 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Sideline Robot Helps Trainers Spot Football Concussions

Go Big Green! Dartmouth is testing the VGo robot to help diagnose concussions when neurologists aren't at the game.
Mark Washburn Courtesy of Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 5:03 pm

With the fall season come littered leaves, new television lineups and the sport that can't stop stirring up controversy: football.

Rough tackles and concussions worry many parents. And no wonder. Research cited by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons suggests that more than a third of college football players have had one concussion and 20 percent have had more than one.

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The Two-Way
6:25 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Ebola Cases Seen Declining In Liberia, WHO Says In New Update

Health workers sit at the emergency entrance of a Doctors Without Borders clinic in Monrovia. New data seem to show a decline in Ebola cases in Liberia, WHO says.
Zoom Dosso AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 10:55 am

There are currently 13,042 confirmed or suspected cases of the deadly Ebola virus in six countries, according to the World Health Organization. But the group says its latest figures also hold some good news, as the number of Ebola cases in hard-hit Liberia appear to be on the decline.

WHO released its data for the period up to Nov. 2 Wednesday, saying that Ebola has now been blamed for 4,818 reported deaths.

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The Salt
5:22 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

How Did Berkeley Pass A Soda Tax? Bloomberg's Cash Didn't Hurt

Berkeley's efforts to pass a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks faced opposition with deep pockets — but it also got sizable cash infusions from some big-name donors.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 9:47 am

It's no secret that the American Beverage Association spent a lot of money to defeat soda tax initiatives in California this election season.

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Goats and Soda
5:19 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

A Veteran AIDS Activist Has Déjà Vu From Ebola Panic

Members of the activist group ACT UP, which has fought for the rights of people with AIDS, held a demonstration in New York's Times Square in 1992.
Andrew Savulich AP

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 10:59 am

The panic over Ebola in the U.S. gets a one-word comment from Gregg Gonsalves: "Crazy."

Actually, he has a few more words than that to say. In this week's online New England Journal of Medicine, Gonsalves co-authored an essay called "Panic, Paranoia, and Public Health — The AIDS Epidemic's Lessons for Ebola."

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Goats and Soda
4:27 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

U.S. Military Response To Ebola Gains Momentum In Liberia

Air Force personnel put up tents to house a 25-bed, U.S.-built hospital for Liberian health workers sick with Ebola in Monrovia, Liberia's capital. The hospital is scheduled to open this weekend.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 9:23 am

Two new U.S. Ebola treatment facilities are expected to open in Liberia over the next week. One is a 25-bed field hospital near Monrovia's airport, specifically to treat local health care workers who get infected. The other is a 100-bed Ebola treatment unit, or ETU, in the town of Tubmanburg, north of Monrovia.

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Shots - Health News
3:21 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

How Much Is That MRI, Really? Massachusetts Shines A Light

In 49 U.S. states, spotting the squished disc in this spinal MRI is still much easier than learning the price of the MRI in advance.
AWelshLad iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 4:45 pm

The kids are asleep, and I've settled into a comfy armchair in the corner of my New England living room, one of my favorite spots for shopping online. I've got my laptop open and I'm ready to search for a bone density test.

Hmmm ... looks like the price that my insurer pays for that test varies from $190 at Harvard Vanguard to $445 at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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Goats and Soda
1:39 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

From Blue Bleach To Hazmat Hacks, Students Take On Ebola Challenges

Students taking part in Columbia University's Ebola design challenge demonstrated for judges how to use a special chamber for decontaminating small items.
Courtesy of Columbia Engineering

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 11:24 am

If there's one thing college kids do best, it's thinking creatively. Often operating with limited resources and tight deadlines, they're used to coming up with ingenious solutions to life's everyday problems (usually on little sleep). So it's no surprise that experts are turning to students for help in battling one of this year's most pressing global health issues: the Ebola outbreak.

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Shots - Health News
1:30 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Have You Broken A Wrist? Men Are At Risk Of Osteoporosis, Too

A man who breaks a wrist after age 50 is more likely to die prematurely than a woman with the same injury.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 4:45 pm

When a man shows up in her office with a broken wrist, Dr. Tamara Rozental will often suggest that he get his bone density checked for osteoporosis. She often gets a blank stare back.

"I may order the bone density scan and tell them they should get it, but many of my patients don't do it," Rozental, an orthopedic surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says.

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Shots - Health News
11:44 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Employers Can't Skip Insurance Coverage For Hospitalization

Some employers said that leaving out hospital coverage helped protect low-wage workers from big deductibles.
Amriphoto iStockphoto

Closing what many see as a loophole that could trap millions of people in sub-standard insurance, the Obama administration said Tuesday that large-employer medical plans lacking hospital coverage will not qualify under the Affordable Care Act's toughest standard. It also offered relief to workers who may be enrolled in those plans next year.

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Shots - Health News
9:37 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Berkeley Decides To Try Taxing Away Its Soda Habit

The majority of voters in San Francisco and Berkeley, Calif., voted in favor of a soda tax, but the measure didn't gain the required two-thirds majority required in San Francisco.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 4:46 pm

Voters in Berkeley, Calif., have passed the nation's first soda tax with a resounding 75 percent of the vote. The measure aimed to reduce the effects of sugar consumption on health, especially in increased rates of obesity and diabetes.

More than 30 cities and states across the country have attempted such a tax, but have failed, at least in part because of big spending by the soda industry to defeat these measures.

Across the bay in San Francisco, however, a similar proposal failed to get the two-thirds supermajority it needed.

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Goats and Soda
2:30 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Why Your Brain Wants To Help One Child In Need — But Not Millions

Saah Exco was found alone on a beach in Liberia's West Point slum, naked and abandoned and likely an Ebola victim.Research suggests the story of one needy individual motivates charitable donors more than statistics about millions of sufferers.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 3:14 pm

Why do people sometimes give generously to a cause — and other times give nothing at all?

That's a timely question, because humanitarian groups fighting the Ebola outbreak need donations from people in rich countries. But some groups say they're getting less money than they'd expect from donors despite all the news.

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Goats and Soda
4:57 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

What Makes Kenya's Marathon Runners The World's Best?

Wilson Kipsang of Kenya hoisted his country's flag after winning the New York City Marathon on Sunday. Kipsang won in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 10 minutes, 59 seconds.
Craig Ruttle AP

Wilson Kipsang, the Kenyan winner of Sunday's New York City Marathon, told reporters after it was over that he'd had to slow down — to "exercise a lot of patience" — as he logged the first miles of the 26.2-mile race.

And even with his purposely slowish (!) start, he completed the marathon in two hours, 10 minutes and 59 seconds.

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Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Researchers Tap Web Chatter To Figure Out Who's Sick

Hotspots show where the common cold is popping up across the U.S.
via Sickweather

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 8:03 am

What if you could track people getting sick just by analyzing how they surf the Web?

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