Health

Health

Researchers have discovered the exact structure of the receptor that makes our sensory nerves tingle when we eat sushi garnished with wasabi. And because the "wasabi receptor" is also involved in pain perception, knowing its shape should help pharmaceutical companies develop new drugs to fight pain.

Shorter people are more likely than taller folks to have clogged heart arteries, and a new study says part of the reason lies in the genes.

Doctors have known since the 1950s about the link between short stature and coronary artery disease, "but the reason behind this really hasn't been completely clear," says Nilesh Samani, a cardiologist at the University of Leicester in the U.K.

Before a couple commit time, money and emotion to the process of in vitro fertilization, they want to know one thing: What are our chances of having a baby?

Success rates vary dramatically by age. In 2013, for example, 40 percent of IVF cycles performed in women who were under the age of 35 resulted in live births, compared with 4.5 percent for women older than 42.

It would be nice to think that when you go in for surgery you'd be offered the safest, cheapest alternative, but that's not always the case, a study finds.

Some hospitals are much more likely than others to offer minimally invasive surgery for procedures like colon or lung surgery or appendectomy, according to an analysis published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery.

Since his birth 33 years ago, Jonathan Keleher has been living without a cerebellum, a structure that usually contains about half the brain's neurons.

This exceedingly rare condition has left Jonathan with a distinctive way of speaking and a walk that is slightly awkward. He also lacks the balance to ride a bicycle.

But all that hasn't kept him from living on his own, holding down an office job and charming pretty much every person he meets.

People don't talk about psychiatrists the way they talk about neurologists, dentists or vets. In fact, there are those who call psychiatry voodoo or pseudoscience; and, to be fair, the specialty does have a history of claims and practices that are now considered weird and destructive.

Walk past a patient's hospital room, and the flashing control panels on devices by the bed might make you think you're peering at the cockpit of a 737.

Medical technology can make patient care better and more precise. But the gadgets and computers can cause trouble, too. One big problem is that most of the devices can't communicate with one another.

The ultimate technological goal is what the engineers call interoperability. Let the ventilators, IV pumps, heart monitors and computers holding patient records communicate and update one another automatically.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults, and those who live in rural areas are especially at risk.

For young people between the ages of 10 and 24, the suicide rates in rural areas are nearly double those of urban areas, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. And that disparity is growing.

Technology entrepreneur Jonathan Bush says he was recently watching a patient move from a hospital to a nursing home. The patient's information was in an electronic medical record, or EMR. And getting the patient's records from the hospital to the nursing home, Bush says, wasn't exactly drag and drop.

"These two guys then type — I kid you not — the printout from the brand new EMR into their EMR, so that their fax server can fax it to the bloody nursing home," Bush says.

Health is more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes in surprising ways, factors such as childhood experiences, housing conditions, poor diets and health care access drive who ends up sick — and who does not.

When you ask people what impacts health you'll get a lot of different answers: Access to good health care and preventative services, personal behavior, exposure to germs or pollution and stress. But if you dig a little deeper you'll find a clear dividing line, and it boils down to one word: money.

The Obama administration has blocked health plans without hospital benefits that many large employers argued fulfilled their obligations under the Affordable Care Act.

Companies with millions of workers, mainly in lower-wage industries such as staffing, retailing, restaurants and hotels that hadn't offered health coverage previously, had been flocking toward such insurance for 2015.

Anne Roberson walks a quarter-mile down the road each day to her mailbox in the farming town of Exeter, deep in California's Central Valley. Her daily walk and housekeeping chores are her only exercise, and her weight has remained stubbornly over 200 pounds for some time now. Roberson is 68 years old, and she says it gets harder to lose weight as you get older: "You get to a certain point in your life and you say, 'What's the use?' "

Could using a dishwashing machine increase the chances your child will develop allergies? That's what some provocative new research suggests — but don't tear out your machine just yet.

The study involved 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) and found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family's dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, and somewhat less likely to develop allergic asthma and hay fever.

Like many schools across Colorado, Arapahoe Ridge High School in Boulder has seen an increase in overall drug incidents since recreational marijuana became legal.

While public schools aren't required to report marijuana incidents separately from other drugs such as cocaine, evidence compiled by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News suggests more students are using marijuana.

Speed. That's key to ending the Ebola epidemic, health officials have been saying for months. Now there's a new tool to help do the trick.

The World Health Organization approved the first quick test for Ebola Friday. The test gives results in about 15 minutes, instead of hours. So people infected can get treatment and be quarantined more quickly.

"It's definitely a breakthrough," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Friday in Geneva.

"Is this doctor in my insurance network?" is one of the key questions people ask when considering whether to see a particular doctor. Unfortunately, in some cases the answer may not be a simple yes or no.

As privately run Medicare health plans for seniors scramble to stave off proposed funding cuts, federal prosecutors in Florida are pursuing an unusual criminal fraud case that's likely to raise new concerns that some plans may be overcharging the government.

The criminal case is believed to be among the first to take aim at billing practices of Medicare Advantage plans, which are popular with seniors because out-of-pocket costs are lower and they provide more benefits than traditional Medicare.

For the past month and a half, we've been exploring the invisible forces that shape our lives in NPR's newest program, Invisibilia. Now we're ending the pilot season with a visible twist — exploring the ways computers shape our behavior, and the way we see the world.

When Wendy Sue Swanson started out as a pediatrician eight years ago, it never crossed her mind to bring up the option of intrauterine devices — an insertable form of long-acting contraception — when she had her regular birth-control discussions with teenage patients who were sexually active.

"The patch had been the thing," she said, referring to a small, Band-Aid-like plastic patch that transmits hormones through the skin to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

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