Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 8:09 pm
If you make a choice to hasten your own death, it can actually be pretty simple: Don't eat or drink for a week. But if you have Alzheimer's disease, acting on even that straightforward choice can become ethically and legally fraught.
Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 8:14 am
The mysterious and complicated illness that has been called chronic fatigue syndrome has a new definition and a new name: systemic exertion intolerance disease, or SEID for short.
The name change is big news because many patients and experts in the field hate the name chronic fatigue syndrome; they feel that it trivializes the condition. Another name, myalgic encephalomyelitis, has been used in Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, but it doesn't accurately describe the illness, either.
Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 10:32 am
Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, "repeal and replace" has been the rallying cry for Republicans who opposed it. But now that most of the law's provisions have taken effect, some health experts are pitching ways to tweak it, rather than eliminate it.
An ideologically diverse panel at the National Health Policy Conference on Monday presented different ideas to make the law work better. But the panelists agreed on one thing: The Affordable Care Act is too complicated.
Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 11:39 am
More than 900,000 Texans have signed up for health insurance so far this year â€“ about 200,000 more than last year. The deadline for signing up for a health plan on HealthCare.gov is Sunday, and some groups in south Texas are making a big push to get Latinos to enroll.
Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 7:36 pm
Across the world, a child's survival is a lot like drawing a lottery ticket. Factors based purely on chance â€” where a child is born, how much money his or her family has and what their ethnic background is â€” can determine if a child lives past age 5.
Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 6:50 pm
Treating cancer is a race against time.
Every once in a while, there's an experimental drug that's so promising it makes the race even more urgent. Patients and their families plead with pharmaceutical companies to get it before the Food and Drug Administration's approval.
The demand has been particularly high for a new class of drugs that harnesses the immune system to fight cancer.
Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 2:51 pm
As debate mounts in the U.S. over whether or not to require measles vaccinations, global immunization rates show something interesting: Many poor countries have far higher vaccination rates than rich ones.
Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:42 am
Health officials in Illinois are trying to find the source of a measles infection, after five babies were diagnosed with the contagious respiratory disease in a Chicago suburb. Saying that more cases are likely, a health official warns, "The cat is out of the bag."
Because the Illinois patients are all under a year old, they can't be vaccinated. The new cluster of cases joins more than 100 other reports of measles in 14 states this year; most of them have been traced to an outbreak at Disneyland in California in December.
Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 11:25 am
On a recent winter evening in the Bronx, a group of men and women in red-checkered shirts and dresses encircled Dr. Julie Hoffman during a ceremony. They pounded wooden drums crisscrossed with thick rope and shook maracas as they danced and sang.
The event took on a somber tone when Hoffman talked about the crisis that had brought them all together.
"Too many members of this community continue dying," she said in Spanish. "That's why I'm here. I want to work with you."
Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 12:10 pm
Odd that Americans, long known for their short attention spans and â€” oh, look, a sparkly thing ... are at the same time manic for marathonic undertakings.
Running, for example. A century ago, scores of marathoners competed before huge wintertime crowds in the 1909 Brooklyn Marathon. Flash forward, and this past November, more than 50,000 participants finished the 2014 New York City Marathon. (Applications for nonguaranteed entry in the 2015 race must be in by Feb. 15.)
Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 3:24 pm
If you walk the streets of China today, you'll quickly notice that most young people wear glasses. In Shanghai, for instance, 86 percent of high school students suffer from myopia, or nearsightedness, according to the government's Xinhua News Agency.
Myopia has risen quickly in much of East Asia and Southeast Asia. And researchers are still trying to pin down exactly what's driving the epidemic.
Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 7:27 pm
Most of the 92 cases of measles confirmed in California are among adults â€” more than 62 percent. Maybe they or their parents chose not to vaccinate, or maybe those people are allergic to one of the ingredients in the measles vaccine.
But it's also possible that a few of those adults happened to slip through the cracks when the measles vaccine first came to the public.
Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:48 am
Something is destroying the kidneys of farm workers along the Pacific coast of Central America. Over the past two decades, more than 20,000 people in western Nicaragua and El Salvador â€” mostly men and many of them in their 20s and 30s â€” have died of a mysterious form of kidney failure. Researchers have been able to say definitively that it's not diabetes or other common causes of kidney failure.
The baby boomers are getting older: This year, 4 million people in America will turn 65.
In her new book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, author Ai-jen Poo says that means the country is on the cusp of a major shift.
"The baby boom generation is reaching retirement age at a rate of 10,000 people per day," she tells NPR's Arun Rath. "What that means is that by 2050, 27 million Americans will need some form of long-term care or assistance, and that's the basis for this book."
Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 1:26 pm
After a few cases here and there, measles is making a big push back into the national consciousness.
An outbreak linked to visitors to the Disneyland Resort Theme Parks in Orange County, Calif., has sickened 67 people in California and six other states according to the latest count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 10:53 am
Nearly half of all reported sports concussions occur during a high school football game or practice. And even when injured bodies are ready to get back on the field, injured brains might not be ready to return to class.