An irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation is a big cause of stroke, especially for people who have recently had a stroke. But it's not something that most people can feel.
Doctors test for atrial fibrillation by hooking people up to an electrocardiogram machine at the office, or having them wear a Holter monitor for a day or a week. There are also implantable monitors to check for afib, but they aren't widely used.
Going to a union meeting of nurses is a little bit like going to an evangelical church service.
"We all have to stand up, and it's a struggle," says Veronica Cambra, a nurse reporting a grievance at Kaiser Hospital in Fremont, Calif., as though she's giving testimony. "And we will overcome this, OK?"
The rest of the nurses respond with the passion of a devout congregation, humming "Mmm hmmm," and "That's right," through the series of speeches.
Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 11:07 am
Kids can be cruel, especially about weight. So you might think overweight or obese children know all too well that they're heavy — thanks to playground politics. But that's not necessarily so, according to government data covering about 6,100 kids and teens ages 8-15.
About 30 percent "misperceived" their weight status (underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese), according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. (The CDC bases those categories on body mass index, adjusted for gender and age.)
"A lady had a snake in a bag. When somebody opened the bag, that made the lady die."
That's the beginning of a story that Temba Morris often hears about the origins of Ebola. Morris runs a government health clinic in a remote village near Sierra Leone's border with Guinea. According to the story, somebody else then looked inside the bag.
"And the one who opened the bag also died," is what Morris hears next. The snake escaped into the Sierra Leone bush.
So there you have it: Ebola is an evil snake that will kill you if you look at it.
It's been a long time coming — nearly a half century. But the world is finally close to gaining a new weapon against a growing problem: drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Over the past few decades, TB has quietly evolved into dangerous forms that can't be stopped with traditional antibiotics. Now nearly a half million people around the globe are infected with these deadly strains of thebacteria.
Saidu Kanneh was given a hero's welcome last week when he walked into a community meeting about Ebola in a tiny village of mud huts in the Kissi Kama region of Sierra Leone. Kanneh was diagnosed with Ebola early in July, was treated for 12 days in a Doctors Without Borders hospital and overcame the disease.
One dewy morning back in May 2013, a dozen children gathered in an elementary school courtyard to play soccer in Addis Ababa. Seven-year-old Sisay Gudeta stood alone on the balcony above them.
Sisay poked his head through the arms of a rusty, blue guard rail, staring down at his classmates as they kickedan empty plastic bottle across the pavement. The kids rarely ask him to play, Sisay says. They are afraid to touch him, afraid of the bump on his back that stretches out his neatly pressed school sweater.
NPR's Jason Beaubien is in Sierra Leone, covering the Ebola outbreak that began in March in Guinea and has spread to neighboring countries. When we spoke Thursday, he had just toured the treatment center built by Doctors Without Borders in the town of Kailahun. With 64 beds, it's the largest Ebola isolation ward ever built. Currently there are 31 patients.
Standing in the middle of a swarm of bees might not be your idea of stress relief, but it works for Ray Von Culin. He's a beekeeper in Washington, D.C., and he says caring for bees is one of the most relaxing things in his life.
When Dr. Robert Zarr wanted a young patient to get more exercise, he gave her an unusual prescription: Get off the bus to school earlier.
"She has to take a bus to the train, then a train to another bus, then that bus to her school," says Zarr, a pediatrician at Unity Health Care, a clinic that serves low-income and uninsured families in Washington, D.C. So the prescription read: "Walk the remaining four blocks on the second bus on your route to school from home, every day."
Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 12:09 pm
Ask somebody about stress, and you're likely to hear an outpouring about all the bad things that cause it — and the bad things that result. But if you ask a biologist, you'll hear that stress can be good.
Stress is bad for your health. And bad health causes a lot of stress.
Poor health and disability are common among people who say they suffer from a lot of stress, according to a national poll by NPR, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.
And it's not just those whose own health is poor. Serious illness and injury often impose enormous stress on entire families.
The modern idea of stress began on a rooftop in Canada, with a handful of rats freezing in the winter wind.
This was 1936 and by that point the owner of the rats, an endocrinologist named Hans Selye, had become expert at making rats suffer for science.
"He would subject them to extreme temperatures, make them go hungry for long periods, or make them exercise a lot," the medical historian Mark Jackson says. "Then what he would do is kill the rats and look at their organs."