Health

Health
11:51 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Health Organizations Call For A Ban On E-Cigarettes Indoors

A woman smokes an electronic cigarette at a store in Miami.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 2:59 pm

Tobacco control advocates disagree on whether e-cigarettes are a useful tool to get smokers off tobacco, or just a sleeker form of one of the world's deadliest addictions.

A lot of that discord comes from the fact that there's just not enough science to know the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine in a vapor rather than through tobacco smoke. And it could take years to find out if vaping causes cancer and other deadly diseases.

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Health
9:16 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Insurers Refuse To Cover Some Contraceptives, Despite Health Law

The NuvaRing contraceptive ring can be used monthly to prevent pregnancy.
Sandy Huffaker Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 8:54 am

How much leeway do employers and insurers have in deciding whether they'll cover contraceptives without charge and in determining which methods make the cut?

Not much, as it turns out, but that hasn't stopped some from trying.

People still write in regularly describing battles they're waging to get birth control coverage they're entitled to under the Affordable Care Act.

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Health
9:23 am
Wed August 20, 2014

What Kids' Drawings Say About Their Future Thinking Skills

Researchers asked 4-year-olds to draw a child. Here's a sample of their artwork.
Twins Early Development Study/King's College in London

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 8:54 am

At age 4, many young children are just beginning to explore their artistic style.

The kid I used to babysit in high school preferred self-portraits, undoubtedly inspired by the later works of Joan Miro. My cousin, a prolific young artist, worked almost exclusively on still lifes of 18-wheelers.

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Health
3:38 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Pittsburgh Health Care Giants Take Fight To Each Other's Turf

The headquarters for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield dominate the Pittsburgh skyline much as they organizations have dominated health care in the region for decades.
Jeff Brady NPR

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 10:47 am

Pittsburgh's dominant health insurance company and its largest healthcare provider are, essentially, getting a divorce.

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Health
3:35 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Mental Health Cops Help Reweave Social Safety Net In San Antonio

Officers Ned Bandoske (left) and Ernest Stevens are part of San Antonio's mental health squad — a six-person unit that answers the frequent emergency calls where mental illness may play a role.
Jenny Gold Kaiser Health News

Originally published on Thu August 21, 2014 12:08 pm

It's almost 4 p.m., and police officers Ernest Stevens and Ned Bandoske have been driving around town in their unmarked black SUV since early this morning. The officers are part of San Antonio's mental health squad — a six-person unit that answers the frequent emergency calls where mental illness may be an issue.

The officers spot a call for help on their laptop from a group home across town.

"A male individual put a blanket on fire this morning," Stevens reads from the blotter. "He's arguing ... and is a danger to himself and others. He's off his medications."

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Health
7:16 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Experimental Vaccine For Chikungunya Passes First Test

Marqui Ducarme is aided by his wife after catching chikungunya at his home in Port-au-Prince, May 23. The virus swept through Haiti this spring, infecting more than 40,000 people.
Marie Arago Reuters/Landov

Scientists have taken the first steps to developing a vaccine for chikungunya — an emerging mosquito-borne virus that has infected more than a half million people in the Western Hemisphere this year. About 600 Americans have brought the virus to 43 states.

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Health
11:04 am
Mon August 18, 2014

Caring For The American Ebola Patients: Inside Emory's Isolation Unit

The two American Ebola patients are being cared for separately in rooms like this in the special isolation unit, known officially as the Serious Communicable Disease Unit, at Emory University Hospital.
Emory University Hospital

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 12:15 pm

When it comes to deadly, contagious disease outbreaks like Ebola, the terms "quarantine" and "isolation" take on fresh relevance and urgency. Each has a distinct meaning in the public health context, though the words are often used interchangeably and both refer to protecting the public from communicable illnesses.

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Health
3:51 am
Mon August 18, 2014

The Power Of The Peer Group In Preventing Campus Rape

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 20, 2014 9:34 am

Many forces can drive a male college student to commit sexual assault. But one of the most important may be the company he keeps.

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Health
5:07 am
Fri August 15, 2014

Has An Ebola Corner Been Turned? One Perspective: 'No, No, No, No'

Health workers at the Doctors Without Borders facility in Kailahun wear protective clothing when treating Ebola patients.
Carl De Souza AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 9:35 am

Emily Veltus, a health educator working in Sierra Leone, says her organization, Doctors Without Borders, is "maxed out" in dealing with Ebola and that more help is needed to control an outbreak that is still raging.

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Health
5:24 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Reporter's Notebook: A Not-So-Grand Tour Of Ethiopia's Top Hospital

Family members sit in the waiting room for the neonatal unit at Black Lion hospital.
Amy Walters NPR

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 11:25 am

When you sign up for a reporting fellowship to learn about the health of newborns in Ethiopia, you expect things to be a little different from what you're used to in the U.S. To be perfectly honest, a little worse. But Ethiopia actually surprised me, even before I took off.

I did my research, and it turns out that Ethiopia's health care system is getting better — significantly better. It's meeting international goals, winning awards from the United States and, more important, babies are living longer and fewer mothers are dying in childbirth.

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Health
3:35 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Who Gets First Dibs On Transplanted Liver? Rules May Change

Surgeons at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis prepare to transplant a liver in 2010.
Karen Pulfer Focht The Commercial Appeal/Landov

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 9:21 am

Vicki Hornbuckle used to play the piano at her church. But that was before her liver started failing.

"I had to give it up because I couldn't keep up," says Hornbuckle, 54, of Snellville, Georgia. "I didn't have the energy to do three services on Sunday. You're just too tired to deal with anything. And so, it's not a life that you want to live."

But Hornbuckle hasn't given up. She's fighting to stay alive long enough to get a liver transplant.

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Health
4:59 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Graphic Warnings: Ebola Posters Keep The Virus On People's Minds

How do you prevent the spread of Ebola? Wash your hands, avoid bush meat and don't touch corpses.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton NPR

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 8:24 pm

The campaign is called "Kick Back Ebola." But the posters pack a punch.

Sierra Leone has reported over 700 suspected Ebola cases, more than any other country this year. To help stop the outbreak, health workers have put up Ebola awareness signs all over Sierra Leone's seaside capital of Freetown.

Posters are pasted on hospital walls and outside clinics. Banners flutter along main streets. The goal of the campaign is to keep the reality of Ebola — and how to detect it — very much alive in people's minds.

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Health
4:36 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Why Are We So Scared Of Ebola?

Cynthia Goldsmith/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 10:02 am

The question of why the Ebola virus seems to so badly frighten so many people seems, at first, to have an obvious answer.

Ebola, after all, is an incurable hemorrhagic virus with a mortality rate that soars in some outbreaks to 90 percent of those infected. Symptoms in sufferers with advanced disease go beyond high fever and gastrointestinal misery to bleeding from the mouth, nose, ears and eyes.

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Health
1:17 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Interval Training While Walking Helps Control Blood Sugar

Varying speed while walking may make the activity much more effective.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu August 28, 2014 6:43 pm

Lots of high-performance athletes use interval training to maximize their fitness.

From runners to cyclists to boot-camp fanatics the strategy involves alternating between periods of high-intensity and lower-intensity aerobic training.

Now, a study published in the journal Diabetologia finds that interval training may help the millions of people with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes who are trying to control their blood sugar.

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Health
11:08 am
Thu August 7, 2014

House Calls Keep People Out Of Nursing Homes And Save Money

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 2:58 pm

When it comes to reining in medical costs, delivering more health care and bringing it right to the patient's home can, for a select group of patients, save money.

These particular patients are elders struggling with multiple chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, stroke, diabetes or dementia. They make up just 5 percent of the people on Medicare, but they account for about half of all Medicare spending.

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Health
10:05 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Suspicious Use Of AIDS Drugs Costs Medicare $30 Million

Medicare gives drugs for HIV/AIDS special status, which may make it easier to game the system.
Astrid Riecken MCT/Landov

Originally published on Thu August 7, 2014 12:20 pm

Medicare spent more than $30 million in 2012 on questionable HIV medication costs, the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in an investigation published Wednesday.

The possible fraud schemes were all paid for by Medicare's prescription drug program known as Part D. Among the most egregious:

  • In Detroit, a 77-year-old woman purportedly filled $33,500 worth of prescriptions for 10 different HIV medications. But there's no record she had HIV or that she had visited the doctors who wrote the scripts.
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Health
9:14 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Numbers Of Americans With Health Plans Way Up, But States Vary

Arkansas, Kentucky, Delaware and Colorado have all seen significant increases since 2013 in the percentage of residents who have health insurance.
Vectoraart/iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 9:47 am

A Gallup poll released Tuesday suggests the Affordable Care Act is significantly increasing the number of Americans with health insurance, especially in states that are embracing it. It echoes previous Gallup surveys, and similar findings by the Urban Institute and Rand Corp.

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Health
3:47 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Liberians In America Help Dispel Ebola Myths Back Home

Employees of a petroleum company in Liberia help to curb Ebola's spread via a public health awareness campaign Monday. West Africa is facing its first Ebola outbreak, so questions abound.
Abbas Dulleh AP

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 5:29 pm

Amelia Togba-Addy lives in Atlanta, but Ebola is always on her mind.

Like many Liberian Americans, she has family and friends in West Africa, where Ebola has killed nearly 900 people. In Liberia alone, the World Health Organization has reported almost 500 cases and more than 250 deaths so far.

So when Togba-Addy's aunt called early one morning last week, she panicked.

"The first thing I thought about was, 'Oh! A family member has come down with the virus,' " she says. "So I started crying."

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Health
7:48 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

The Ebola Outbreak: 'A Dress Rehearsal For The Next Big One'

The usual suspect: Bats harbor dozens of deadly viruses, such as rabies and influenza. Several studies suggest that bats may also carry Ebola.
Tyler Hicks Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 8:33 am

Until this year, the world had recorded 1,640 deaths from Ebola since the virus was discovered in 1976.

Then Ebola appeared in West Africa.

So far this year, 887 people have died of Ebola in West Africa, the World Health Organization said Monday.

To put that into perspective, more than a third of all people known to have died from the Ebola virus have died in the current outbreak.

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Health
4:21 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Ebola Photographer Introduces The West To Outbreak's Victims

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 11:58 am

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

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

If you watched any TV news today, you probably saw images of an ambulance making its way to the streets of Atlanta. The ambulance pulls up to hospital carrying an American infected with the Ebola virus. The whole trip was narrated by CNN.

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