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Health

Health

Millions of Americans take baby aspirin every day to prevent a heart attack or stroke. If they are at high risk of heart disease, they're doing the right thing, according to draft recommendations issued Monday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

There have been suggestions that low levels of vitamin D might be a factor in cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, but there's no proof that the lack of D is actually causing the problems.

A study published Monday doesn't prove that link, but it does find that people with low levels of vitamin D lost key thinking skills more quickly than people with enough.

Are you not getting enough sleep, or are you getting too much? If your answer to either of these questions is "yes," you may be at risk of heart disease.

Cutting blood pressure below the currently recommended target can significantly reduce the rate of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and deaths, federal health officials reported Friday.

The findings come from the largest study ever conducted to examine whether reducing systolic blood pressure — the top number patients get when examined — below the currently recommended goal would be beneficial.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The treatment is called Fav-Afrique. It's the only anti-venom approved to neutralize the bites of 10 deadly African snakes, like spitting cobras, carpet vipers and black mambas. And the world's stockpiles of it are dwindling, Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday. The last batch expires next June.

As a medical student, Damon Tweedy noticed that many of the diseases he learned about in class were more prevalent among black people than white people, and that the black patients often fared worse than their white counterparts.

Tweedy, now a psychiatrist and the author of the memoir Black Man in a White Coat, theorizes that those differences spring from the fact that many black patients feel shut out and distrustful of a health care system that has a history of mistreating them.

It may be possible to transmit Alzheimer's disease from one person to another, according to a study published Wednesday in Nature. But this would occur only in highly unusual circumstances involving direct exposure to brain tissue, scientists say.

Why did hospitals binge-buy doctor practices in recent years?

To improve the coordination of care, lower costs and upgrade patient experiences, say hospitals. To raise costs, gain pricing power and steer patient referrals, say skeptics.

Researchers at Stanford University tested those opposing arguments by comparing referral patterns between independent doctors and those working for hospitals.

These are the tiniest babies born. Some weigh only a pound or two. And can fit in the palm of your hand.

Extreme preemies — born somewhere between 22 and 28 weeks — have a better chance of surviving now than they did 20 years ago, doctors report Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. But many of these babies still have severe health problems.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

On the way to his son's baseball game on Long Island, sports writer J.R. Gamble tells me that his son, J.C., is quite a ball player.

"I have a lot of clips and highlights that I show people of him doing amazing things — jumping over catches, hitting balls right-handed, hitting balls left-handed," Gamble says.

Part of the reason his son is so good at baseball, Gamble explains, is that he started at an early age — a very early age.

As a member of the Navajo tribe, Rochelle Jake has received free care through the Indian Health Service her entire life. The IHS clinics took care of her asthma, allergies and eczema — chronic problems, nothing urgent.

Recently, though, she felt sharp pains in her side. Her doctor recommended an MRI and other tests she couldn't get through IHS. To pay for them, he urged her to sign up for private insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

In 1938, an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger gave the first public talk on autism in history. Asperger was speaking to an audience of Nazis, and he feared that his patients — children who fell onto what we now call the autism spectrum — were in danger of being sent to Nazi extermination camps.

As Asperger spoke, he highlighted his "most promising" patients, a notion that would stick with the autistic spectrum for decades to come.

In less than 24 hours, Valerie Davidson has 50 people coming to her house for dinner.

She had planned to catch and cook enough salmon for the main course. But early in the morning, Alaska opened the Kuskokwim River to commercial fishing, which means subsistence fishermen like her can't fish on it.

So Davidson and I are in her bright orange 1983 Chevy pickup stalking the "free fish" container where state biologists deposit their test catches after conducting studies after each high tide.

Dr. David Burkons graduated from medical school and began practicing obstetrics and gynecology in 1973, the same year the Supreme Court issued its landmark abortion decision in Roe v. Wade.

Burkons liked delivering babies. But he is also committed to serving all his patients, including those who choose abortions.

Doctors' practices are increasingly trying to reach their patients online. But don't expect your doctor to "friend" you on Facebook – at least, not just yet.

I'm driving through a frozen world, where the roads are paved in ice. As I swerve left to avoid a miniature iceberg, a red fish flashes at the top of my screen. I'm supposed to tap all the red fish that pop up, but not the green fish or the blue. And I have to do this without crashing the car.

An unidentifiable, omnipresent game-meister says: "Doing one thing at a time is easy, but doing them both at the same time is where the magic happens!"

When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 most residents evacuated safely. But thousands lost homes, careers, and the lives they had known. Since then, many seem to have recovered emotionally from the trauma. But some have not.

Hospitals have a free and powerful tool that they could use more often to help reduce the pain that surgery patients experience: music.

Scores of studies over the years have looked at the power of music to ease this kind of pain; an analysis published Wednesday in The Lancet that pulls all those findings together builds a strong case.

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