Health

Health
3:08 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Someday Soon You May Swallow A Computer With Your Pill

The company Proteus has developed a computer that attaches to a pill and tracks the pill's absorption into the body. The technology has passed clinical trials.
iStock

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:24 am

What if you could swallow a computer the size of a poppy seed, and it could report back exactly if and when you took a medicine while recording how your body responded to the drug?

It sounds crazy, but the tiny computers exist. It sounds dangerous, but they were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. And the company that makes them, Proteus, has tens of millions of dollars and relationships with some of the biggest drug companies in the world, including Novartis.

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Health
10:22 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Your Brain's Got Rhythm, And Syncs When You Think

"Dance for PD" classes use music to temporarily ease tremors and get Parkinson's patients moving.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 4:47 pm

Even if you can't keep a beat, your brain can. "The brain absolutely has rhythm," says Nathan Urban, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

When you concentrate, Urban says, your brain produces rapid, rhythmic electrical impulses called gamma waves. When you relax, it generates much slower alpha waves.

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Health
9:03 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Fewer Women Are Having Labor Induced Early

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 7:43 am

There has been a major effort in the past several years to reduce the rate of early elective deliveries. Those are births that for no medical reason are hastened by inducing labor or performing a cesarean section before the pregnancy has reached 39 weeks of gestation.

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Health
4:58 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

India's Transgender Community Turns Seat Belt Safety Into Video Hit

India's transgender community, known as hijras, stars in an ad promoting seat belt use across the country.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 2:36 pm

Members of India's transgender community, known as hijras, are now the stars of an entertaining advocacy campaign aimed at persuading India's motorists to buckle up.

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Health
5:24 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Entrepreneurs Buzzing Over Medical Marijuana In Florida

One of three marijuana plants growing in the backyard of a 65-year-old retiree from Pompano Beach, Fla. He grows and smokes his own "happy grass" to alleviate pain.
Carline Jean MCT/Landov

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 9:05 am

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia now have laws allowing for some form of medical marijuana.

Florida appears poised to join the club. Polls show that voters there are likely to approve a November ballot measure legalizing marijuana for medical use.

If it passes, regulations that would set up a market for medical marijuana in Florida are still at least a year away. But cannabis entrepreneurs from around the country are already setting up shop in the state.

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Health
11:23 am
Wed June 11, 2014

More Young Adults Get Inpatient Psychiatric Care After Health Law

Mental health admissions of young people rose 9 percent after implementation of a key portion of the Affordable Care Act, researchers say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 8:29 am

Expanded coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act substantially raised inpatient hospital visits related to mental health, finds a study conducted by researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities.

That looks like good news: Better access to care for a population with higher-than-average levels of mental illness that too often endangers them and people nearby.

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Health
5:05 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

A Reason To Smile: Mexican Town Is A Destination For Dental Tourism

Mexico's 2010 census counted fewer than 5,500 residents in Los Algodones, but more than 350 dentists ply their trade here, serving U.S. and Canadian patients seeking affordable procedures.
Ted Robbins NPR

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 10:22 am

Sitting in a dentist's chair hardly rates as a vacation. But every year, tens of thousands of people go to a tiny border town near Yuma, Ariz., that has proclaimed itself the dental capital of Mexico.

Los Algodones is a virtual dental factory. Some 350 dentists work within a few blocks of downtown. Because of the low prices and fast service, most patients come for major work.

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Health
9:54 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Gripes About Health Costs Punctuate A Cross-Country Trip

Dudley Pratt (left) talks to reporter Jenny Gold at a gas station in Fenner, Calif. He's frustrated by all the paperwork related to his health insurance these days.
Ilana Lipsett Jenny Gold

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 3:26 pm

Recently, I moved from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. I drove the Southern route and decided to conduct an informal survey.

I asked folks I met along the way a question relevant to the health care reporting I've been doing for the past five years: What bugs you most about your medical care?

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Health
9:41 am
Mon June 9, 2014

A Doctor Takes A Look In The Medicare Mirror

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:13 am

After decades of fighting to keep how much Medicare pays individual doctors a secret, the federal government bowed to pressure from journalists and consumer groups and released the information in April.

The data let reporters — and anyone else — figure out who is getting paid by Medicare for what.

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Health
8:14 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Hospitals Put Pharmacists In The ER To Cut Medication Errors

Brian Micalizzi, a pharmacist at Children's Medical Center in Dallas, prepares an antibiotic prescribed to a patient in the emergency department.
Juan Pulido Courtesy of Children's Medical Center

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 10:47 am

In the emergency department at Children's Medical Center in Dallas, pharmacists who specialize in emergency medicine review each medication to make sure it's the right one in the right dose.

It's part of the hospital's efforts to cut down on medication errors and dangerous drug interactions, which contribute to more than 7,000 deaths across the country each year.

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Health
8:14 am
Mon June 9, 2014

More And More, Young Women Are Being Diagnosed With ADHD

The stress of adult life can make living with undiagnosed ADHD very difficult, doctors say.
Jing Wei for NPR

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 9:33 am

As a child, Diany Levy was called lazy and unfocused. She remembers that teachers called home on a daily basis to tell her parents she was not paying attention in class. Now, at the age of 23, Diany has finally been diagnosed with the cause of her problems – ADHD.

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Health
3:18 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

R U Ready To Quit Smoking? Texting Can Help

Want a cig? Researcher Lorien Abroms displays a sample Text2Quit message.
William Atkins George Washington University

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 8:22 am

Smokers who want to quit have all sorts of tools at their disposal: call lines, nicotine patches, medication, friends, doctors. And now, texts.

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Health
1:15 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Early Exposure To Bacteria Protects Children From Asthma And Allergies

To keep children healthy, it may take a city that's dirty in just the right way.
Carey Kirkella Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 3:57 pm

Babies who are exposed to both bacteria and allergens in the first year of life are less likely to develop asthma and allergies, a study finds.

It's the latest wrinkle in the hygiene hypothesis — the notion that exposure to bacteria trains the infant immune system to attack bad bugs and ignore harmless things like pollen and cat dander.

But what's interesting about this study is that it gets specific; not just any old germs or allergens will do.

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Health
3:02 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Taking More Time Between Babies Reduces Risk Of Premature Birth

Being born prematurely increases the risk of lifelong health problems.
AndyL/iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat June 7, 2014 9:07 am

An ideal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. And it looks like there's also an ideal time between pregnancies.

The length of time between giving birth to one baby and getting pregnant with the next should be 18 months or more. Women who get pregnant sooner than that are more likely to have a premature baby.

Women who got pregnant within a year of giving birth were twice as likely to have that new baby born prematurely, a study finds, compared with women who waited at least 18 months.

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Health
6:32 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

The Camel Did It: Scientists Nail Down Source Of Middle East Virus

A Saudi Arabian man wears a mask to protect against the Middle East respiratory syndrome at his farm outside Riyadh, May 12.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 4:40 pm

In the two years since Middle East respiratory syndrome was first diagnosed in people, scientists have struggled to figure out how we catch the deadly virus. Some blamed bats. Others pointed at camels.

Now scientists in Saudi Arabia offer the strongest evidence yet that the one-humped dromedaries can indeed spread the MERS virus — which has infected more than 800 people on four continents, including two men in the U.S.

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Health
5:00 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Privacy Law Frustrates Parents Of Mentally Ill Adult Children

Mark, a California minister, says the day he was first shut out of all treatment discussions regarding his mentally ill teenage son "was the first time we really started to feel hopeless."
Jenny Gold Kaiser Health News

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 4:40 pm

The horrifying mass shooting in Isla Vista, Calif., last month brought up many questions. What could parents have done to prevent the tragedy? And what did they actually know about their son's mental illness?

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Health
1:19 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

A Cut That Won't Heal Transforms One Woman's View Of Obamacare

Tammy Boudreaux tries a tendon-stretching drill after surgery. Boudreaux was able to get much of her operation and rehabilitation covered by the insurance plan she bought via the Affordable Care Act.
Carrie Feibel

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 12:07 pm

When we first met Tammy Boudreaux, a freelance social worker in Houston, last December, she was still weighing her health insurance options.

She told us she was overwhelmed and confused by the choices she was finding on HealthCare.gov. And the high deductibles of the Obamacare plans didn't seem like such a great deal. But when we checked back in with Boudreaux this month, we learned that a chance encounter with a bottle of hot sauce ultimately changed her mind.

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Health
4:19 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Odds Of Abuse And Mistreatment Add Up Over Children's Lives

Maltreatment in childhood raises the risk of physical and mental health problems throughout life.
RenoCdZ iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 12:33 pm

Children who are maltreated are much more likely to have physical and mental health problems later on. They face a higher risk of suicide and of getting in trouble with the law.

But there's a big gap between the number of people who say they were abused or neglected as children and the official rate of annual confirmed cases, which runs about 1 percent.

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Health
12:58 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Are Pre-Existing Condition Bans For Health Insurance Still With Us?

Cigna's letter to Julie Rovner saying she had no proof of past coverage, so limitations based on pre-existing conditions could apply. (Highlights added.)
Julie Rovner for NPR

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 1:50 pm

"Welcome to Cigna," said the letter, dated May 16, on behalf of my new employer, the Kaiser Family Foundation. The letter also said the insurer was placing me on a one-year waiting period for any pre-existing conditions.

Seriously? Wasn't the health law supposed to end that?

"We have reviewed the evidence of prior creditable coverage provided by you and/or your prior carrier and have determined that you have 0 days of creditable coverage," the letter said.

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Health
12:39 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Medicare Frequently Overpays Doctors For Patients' Visits

Medicare spent $6.7 billion too much for office visits and other patient evaluations in 2010, according to a report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.

But in its reply to the findings, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs Medicare, said it doesn't plan to review the billings of doctors who almost always charge for the most expensive visits because it isn't cost-effective to do so.

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