Health

smoking and education
10:55 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Exploring Why the Highly-Educated Don't Smoke

Optimism in childhood may account for a low percentage of smokers among highly-educated adults.
Credit Valentin Ottone / Creative Commons

Adults with college degrees are much less likely to smoke than the rest of the population. A new Yale University study searches for the reasons why.  

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Tue May 27, 2014

How Healthy Is Connecticut?

This Health Equity panel discussion was held at CPBN's Chase Family studios.
Steve Honigfeld

Our third Health Equity Forum is a project we’ve been working on for a few years now with our partners at Connecticut Health Foundation, exploring the idea of health equity in Connecticut. How do we make sure that everyone has the best possible health outcomes regardless of race, regardless of how much money you have?

It’s a tricky issue for policy makers, which is why we’re so glad to have as the basis for our conversation a new set of information called the Connecticut Health Care Survey. Six organizations came together to put out this report, which is drawn from some 5400 households interviewed. 

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Health Insurance
3:27 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Frustrated By The Affordable Care Act, One Family Opts Out

Nick and Rachel Robinson welcome their son Cash, who was born in a midwife's birthing pool.
Jessica Hooten Courtesy of Nick Robinson

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 3:21 pm

The Robinson family of Dallas started out pretty excited about their new insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act.

Nick Robinson had turned to Obamacare after he lost his job last summer. He had been working as a youth pastor, and the job included benefits that covered him, his two young daughters, and his wife, Rachel, a wedding photographer.

Nick says he wasn't too nervous at first, because everyone was healthy. Then, he recalls, they found out Rachel was pregnant.

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Mental Health
2:08 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Military Plans To Test Brain Implants To Fight Mental Disorders

In epilepsy, the normal behavior of brain neurons is disturbed. The drug valproic acid appears to help the brain replenish a key chemical, preventing seizures.
David Mack/Science Source

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 1:35 pm

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, is launching a $70 million program to help military personnel with psychiatric disorders using electronic devices implanted in the brain.

The goal of the five-year program is to develop new ways of treating problems including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which are common among service members who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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Veterans' Health
4:05 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Connecticut Delegation Seeks VA Facilities Audits

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, left, and Rep. John Larson, right.
Senate Democrats/Center for American Progress

Connecticut's congressional delegation wants full details of audits conducted at Veterans Administration medical facilities, including six in the state. 

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Mental Health
11:13 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Mental Illness Can Shorten Lives More Than Chain-Smoking

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 10:58 am

Mental disorders can reduce life expectancy by 10 to 20 years, as much as or even more than smoking over 20 cigarettes a day, a study finds.

We know that smoking boosts the risk of cancer and heart disease, says Dr. Seena Fazel, a psychiatrist at Oxford University who led the study. But aside from the obvious fact that people with mental illnesses are more likely to commit suicide, it's not clear how mental disorders could be causing early deaths.

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Technology
2:00 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Hospital Disinfects Phones to Tackle "Major Threat" to Patients

Phones brought in by patients must be kept clean, just like any equipment used at a hospital.
Sony Xperia Z Creative Commons

Sometimes people go to a hospital, and they leave with an infection. A new device being tested at St. Francis Hospital might reduce those infections.

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Affordable Care Act
1:37 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Poll: Latinos Underinformed On Obamacare

Credit Access Health CT

A new poll by a non-profit working to get people health insurance coverage say that a lack of understanding hindered Obamacare enrollment for at least one demographic groups: Latinos. 

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Pedestrian Fatalities
8:15 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Connecticut Ranks 27th For Pedestrian Safety

F Delventhal Creative Commons

Connecticut ranks 27th among 50 states when it comes to pedestrian safety, according to Dangerous By Design, a new report compiled by the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America. 

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Breast Cancer
5:16 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Anxiety And MRIs May Be Driving The Rise In Double Mastectomies

More women are choosing double mastectomy even if they don't have a high cancer risk.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 10:21 am

The number of women getting double mastectomies after a breast cancer diagnosis has been rising in the past 10 years, even though most of them don't face a higher risk of getting cancer in the other breast.

That has cancer doctors troubled, because for those women having the other breast removed doesn't reduce their risk of getting breast cancer again or increase their odds of survival. And they don't know why women are making this choice.

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Technology
11:44 am
Wed May 21, 2014

When Doctors Play This Game, You Get Better Medical Care

Hey docs! Play this online game and learn how to do a better job of getting our blood pressure under control!
Lisa F. Young iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 3:29 pm

Doctors are required to keep current on best medical practices, but those efforts all too often don't do a thing to improve patient care. But what if the class is a game — one that lets you compete against other doctors and show off your smarts?

Plus you get funny emails. Oh, and your patients get better, too.

That's the gist of an online game tested at eight Boston-area hospitals to see if it could improve treatment of high blood pressure by getting practitioners to follow recommended treatment guidelines.

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Mental Health
9:20 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Marathon Bombing Study Makes Link Between Brain and Trauma

Boylston Street in Boston on April 24, 2013, nine days after the Boston Marathon bombing.
Rebecca Hildreth Creative Commons

When the Boston Marathon bombing occurred, neuroscientists at Harvard University were midway through a study on trauma and the adolescent brain. As a result, they said they were able to make some new scientific links between PTSD and media exposure.

Last April, Professor Katie McLaughlin and her colleagues at Harvard were studying the brains of young people who’d been through serious adversity. They had recruited about 150 children and teens. Half had reported early trauma or stress, and half had not.

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School Cafeterias
8:29 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Lawmakers Seek Delay On Healthy Lunch Rules For Schools

Some schools say they're having a tough time implementing new nutrition rules requiring more whole grains, more veggies and less fat.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 5:57 pm

How hard can it be for school cafeterias to swap white bread for whole-grain tortillas, cut sodium, and nudge kids to put more fruit and vegetables on their trays?

Tougher than you might imagine, according to some schools.

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Suicide
6:39 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Task Force Says Asking All Patients About Suicide Won't Cut Risk

Alexandra Thompson iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 9:26 pm

Suicide remains a leading cause of death in the United States, especially among teenagers and young adults. Anything that could reduce the toll would be good.

But asking everyone who goes to the doctor if he is considering suicide isn't the answer, according to a federal panel that evaluated the effectiveness of existing screening tools for suicide. They found there wasn't enough evidence to know whether screening the general public helps or hurts.

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Pharmaceuticals
4:16 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Use of ADHD Drugs Rose Sharply Among Adults, Especially Women

Devonyu Thinkstock

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder isn’t just for fidgety little boys anymore. The number of young adult women taking medications for ADHD jumped by 85 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to a recent report by St. Louis-based Express Scripts, a pharmaceutical benefits company.

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MERS
8:29 am
Mon May 19, 2014

MERS Virus Appears To Have Jumped From Human To Human In U.S.

This undated file electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus, colorized in yellow.
AP

Originally published on Sat May 17, 2014 4:35 pm

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus appears to have jumped from one human to another for the first time in United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a press release that an Illinois man has preliminarily tested positive for the MERS antibodies after he had contact with an Indiana man who contracted the virus abroad.

NPR's Joe Neel, who listened in on a CDC conference call, tells us:

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Health Survey
8:23 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Survey Reveals Chronic Illness Is a Problem For Adults in Connecticut

The survey showed that 59 percent of adults postponed needed medical care because of cost.
Credit Morgan / Creative Commons

Results of the Connecticut Heath Care Survey were released on Wednesday. On the surface, the numbers pretty look good: 91 percent of the 4,608 adults surveyed reported having health insurance, and 87 percent said their health is good to very good.

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Drug Development
3:33 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

A History of Drugs, Compiled

Yale's Michael Kinch studies drug development trends from 1827 to today.
Natallia Yaumenenka/iStock Thinkstock

A Yale scientist is in the midst of a 20-paper series studying the history of drug development in the United States. Michael Kinch, the managing director of Yale's Center for Molecular Discovery, has spent the last year creating a massive database of compounds approved by the FDA.

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Health Survey
2:52 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Connecticut Health Survey: 45 Percent of Adults Suffer From Chronic Disease

Stockbyte Thinkstock

Forty-five percent of Connecticut adults in a survey released Wednesday reported that they have been diagnosed with a chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, heart disease, or cancer.

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Mental Health
9:45 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Middletown Forum Focuses On the Needs of the Mentally Ill

Pogonici/iStock Thinkstock

A forum taking place on Thursday afternoon in Middletown will bring together mental health providers and advocates to discuss the many challenges facing people with mental illness. 

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Inflatables
11:50 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Kids Hurt After Bounce House Soars High In The Air

An eyewitness photo shows an inflatable playhouse being blown high in the air. Two boys were seriously injured when they fell out at 15 feet, and a girl who fell out at a lower height also was hurt. Proceeds from the licensing of this image are being donated to the kids' families.
Poststar.com

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 6:30 am

Two kindergartners were seriously hurt after the "bounce house" they were playing in was sent high into the air by a strong gust of wind Monday in upstate New York. Both children needed to be hospitalized after falling out of the inflatable playhouse.

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Domestic Violence
9:54 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Doctors Debate Whether Screening For Domestic Abuse Helps Stop It

In the U.S., doctors increasingly ask about domestic violence as a routine part of checkups.
iStockphoto

Domestic violence affects a third of women worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In many cases nobody knows of the suffering, and victims aren't able to get help in time.

That's why in many countries, including the U.S., there's been a push to make screening for domestic violence a routine part of doctor visits. Last year, the influential U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that clinicians ask all women of childbearing age whether they're being abused.

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Access Health CT
8:03 am
Wed May 14, 2014

State's Bill For Obamacare Call Center Significantly Higher Than Estimated

vichie81/iStock Thinkstock

One part of the Affordable Care Act has become less affordable: call centers. Maximus, the company that runs the phone banks to enroll people in Connecticut, originally said it would charge the state $15 million over roughly three years.

The state now says the cost of that contract could nearly double. 

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Juvenile Justice
12:23 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Transgender Teen at York Moved to Different Part of Prison

Sarah Eagan is Connecticut's child advocate.
Credit Chion Wolf

A 16-year-old transgender girl who has been detained at the state women's prison for more than a month has been moved to another location at the prison.

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Affordable Care Act
11:37 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Employers May Start Paying You To Buy Health Insurance

Employees pay directly for their health insurance in "defined contribution" plans.
iStockphoto

What if employers started giving workers a chunk of cash to buy health insurance on their own instead of offering them a chance to buy into the company plan? Are workers ready to manage their own health insurance like they do a 401(k)?

The idea that employers might drop their health plans and replace them with a "defined contribution" for employees has been around for years. It's one way for employers to control their expenses in the face of the relentlessly rising costs of health care.

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Medicaid and Therapy
10:32 am
Tue May 13, 2014

State to Expand Medicaid to Cover Private Therapy

State health care advocate Vicki Veltri.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Single adults on Medicaid will soon be able to get therapy someplace other than a clinic. A bill passed by lawmakers last week aims to make the coverage available this year. 

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Recreational Marijuana
5:52 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Most Voters in Connecticut Support Legal Recreational Marijuana Possession

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock Thinkstock

At 52 percent supporting legal possession, it's only a slight majority, but a new poll released by Quinnipiac University echoes a nationwide shift in attitudes towards marijuana. The poll also found that 90 percent of Connecticut residents support medical marijuana use. 

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Pregnancy Health
1:31 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Driving While Pregnant Is Riskier Than You Might Think

Be a bit more careful? The risk of a traffic accident rises by about 40 percent during the second trimester of pregnancy.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 5:04 pm

Don't scuba dive. Be careful about flying. Stay out of those hot tubs. Pregnancy comes with a long list of do's and don'ts.

Now it looks like we might need to add another item to that list: Drive more carefully.

Expectant mothers are more likely to have serious car crashes, a large study out of Canada finds.

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Mental Health
8:26 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Mental Health 101: Program Helps Police Intervene In Crises

A police officer stands outside the entrance to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 15, 2012.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 8:24 pm

How do you tell the difference between someone who needs to be taken to jail and someone who needs to be taken to the hospital? It can be a delicate situation to decipher, and it's been a big concern in Connecticut since the Newtown shootings of 2012.

Lance Newkirchen, a regular patrol officer in the town of Fairfield, is also specifically trained to respond to mental health calls. On a recent weekday, he headed out in his patrol car for a follow-up call.

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Dental Health
3:16 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Dental Care Still Out of Reach For "Huge Piece of the Population"

More than 200 dentists volunteered for a free, two-day dental clinic in Hartford.
Connecticut Mission of Mercy

Your teeth may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to health care. Dentists say oral health problems seldom get better on their own, and can point to disease elsewhere in the body, including diabetes and some forms of cancer and leukemia. Of course, a toothache can just be painful.

But if you’re an adult who doesn’t have dental insurance, caring for your teeth and your health can be a real challenge. The Affordable Care Act covers dental care for children, but not adults, and dental care isn't cheap.

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