medicine

Where We Live
8:42 am
Fri April 11, 2014

DCF's Handling of a Transgender Teen; Updates on a Heroin Epidemic

What's causing the nation's heroin epidemic?
Credit Mark Wragg/iStock / Thinkstock

The U.S. is in the middle of a heroin epidemic. It’s something that has become increasingly problematic in northeastern states like Connecticut. This hour, a panel of local reporters and health experts from Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts share their stories. 

We also hear about a controversial decision by the state Department of Children and Families to transfer a transgender teenager to one of Connecticut’s adult prisons, even though, as we’ve discussed on the show, the state now has a “locked” facility for girls like her. WNPR’s Lucy Nalpathanchil joins us with more on that story.

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Healthy Connecticut
10:47 am
Tue April 8, 2014

For Connecticut's DPH, a Big-Picture Snapshot of State Health

Healthy Connecticut 2020 is a statewide health assessment and plan.
Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images News / Thinkstock

A new report called "Healthy Connecticut 2020," from the state Department of Public Health, outlines some of the challenges facing Connecticut health care professionals in the coming decade.

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Not Parkinson's?
3:33 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Involuntary Shaking Can Be Caused By Essential Tremors

Deep brain stimulation eased Shari Finsilver's tremors, but didn't stop them entirely. Here she uses both hands to stabilize a glass of water.
Marvin Shaouni for NPR

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 3:51 pm

Katharine Hepburn had it. So did playwright Eugene O'Neill and Sen. Robert Byrd. Essential tremor is a condition that causes involuntary shaking.

While it usually develops in middle age, it can start much earlier. Shari Finsilver was aware of her hands shaking as a child.

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Refugees
5:41 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Refugee Students

Yale Refugee Clinic staff, from left: Dylan Duchen , Aniyizhai Annamalai, Joshua Bilsborrow, Gregory Madden, Anne Mainardi, and Eva Bryant.
Yale Refugee Clinic

Refugees face many challenges after resettling in a new country and it can be especially hard for children. On Saturday at Luce Hall Auditorium, Yale School of Medicine and Yale's MacMillan Center are hosting a conference for educators to learn about ways to help refugee students adjust.

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Medical Marijuana
2:59 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

State Picks Six Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Credit O'Dea / Creative Commons

Connecticut's consumer chief has picked six medical marijuana dispensaries that will be the first in the state operating in Branford, Bridgeport, Bristol, Hartford, South Windsor and Uncasville.

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Wounded Service Members
5:57 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Orthotic Brace Takes Soldiers From Limping To Leaping

Soldiers participate in physical therapy while using a prosthetic brace called the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis (IDEO), which allows them to use and strengthen severely injured legs.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 3:31 pm

A deceptively simple leg brace is changing the lives of hundreds of wounded service members. Soldiers with badly injured legs who thought they'd have to live with terrible pain can walk and run again, pain-free.

Earlier this month, Army Spc. Joey McElroy took his first steps in the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, or IDEO (pronounced: eye-DAY-oh). The device squeaked a bit as he stepped briskly on an indoor track.

McElroy was hit by a car and thrown from his motorcycle on Dec. 5, 2012.

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Healthy Eating
3:31 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Rethinking Fat: The Case For Adding Some Into Your Diet

Nutrition researchers are reaching a new consensus: Cut back on all those refined carbs. And remember that some fat is good.
Stacy Spensley/Flickr

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 3:10 pm

Remember the fat-free boom that swept the country in the 1990s? Yes, we know from the Salt readers who took our informal survey that lots of you tried to follow it. And gave up.

"I definitely remember eating fat-free cookies, fat–free pudding, fat-free cheese, which was awful," Elizabeth Stafford, an attorney from North Carolina, told us in the survey.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
11:38 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Hearing Voices

Peter Bullimore owns a training/consultant agency, Asylum Associates, and is the founding member of the Paranoia Network in England. He also holds a teaching and research post at Manchester University and is a published author on voices and trauma
Chion Wolf

Teresa of Avila very unambiguously reported hearing voices. She's a saint. John Forbes Nash heard voices. He won a Nobel prize. Robert Schumann heard voices that spurred him to write great music.

Philip K. Dick was guided by one inner voice, specifically female, that he would hear for much of his life. He probably holds the record for most film adaptations for words written of any author ever.

Mahatma Gandhi described a voice he could hear; not a metaphorical inner conversation, but a voice.

I could go on. Hearing voices is not that unusual. 

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Child Mental Health
2:03 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Kids Benefit From Counseling At The Pediatrician's Office

Behavior issues like defiance and aggression are common, and short-term counseling can help parents and kids do better.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 25, 2014 2:49 pm

Pediatricians often recommend some mental health counseling for children who have behavior problems like defiance and tantrums. But counseling can be hard to find. Children are much more likely to get help if the counselor is right there in the doctor's office, a study finds.

The children in the study had behavior problems, and many also had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or anxiety. They were 8 years old, on average, and two-thirds were boys.

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Business of Medicine
11:58 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Hospital Mergers in Connecticut Raise Concerns Over Patient Costs

Yale-New Haven Hospital acquired the Hospital of St. Raphael in September 2012.
Credit Connecticut Health I-Team

Hospital administrators in Connecticut who have been involved in the unprecedented streak of mergers and consolidations often tout the financial benefits and efficiencies of such moves.

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Women's Health
1:59 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Exercise Cuts Breast Cancer Risk For All Women Everywhere

Researchers found that the more active a woman is, the better her odds of avoiding breast cancer.
Pavel Golovkin AP

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 5:22 pm

This could be the simplest bit of health advice ever: Exercise reduces women's risk of breast cancer, no matter what kind of exercise they do, how old they are, how much they weigh, or when they get started.

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Affordable Care Act
12:49 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Doctors Say Obamacare Rule Will Stick Them With Unpaid Bills

A checkup might include more pointed questions about insurance status for people with subsidized health coverage.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 2:04 pm

Doctors worry they won't get paid by some patients because of an unusual 90-day grace period for government-subsidized health plans.

So several professional groups for doctors are urging their members to check patients' insurance status before every visit. Consumer advocates say these checks could lead to treatment delays or denials for some patients.

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Medicine
8:07 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Cancer Treatments Could Hurt Your Heart

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for cancer survivors. A relatively new scientific field called "cardio-oncology" is working to change that.

Chemotherapy and radiation may save you from cancer, but they can also do a lot of damage to your heart. 

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:44 am
Mon March 17, 2014

The Scramble on Agunuah, Vaccinations, and More

Credit Alex Proimos / Wikimedia Commons

Mark Oppenheimer writes about religion and a whole bunch of other things. Today, he'll be talking about the difficulty Orthodox Jewish women face in obtaining a certain form of cooperation from their husbands and how that difficulty spawned a black market in coercion and violence.

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End of Life Choices
9:40 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Legislature Hears Testimony on "Aid in Dying"

Supporters of the bill say they want to allow death with dignity.
Credit Nathan & Jenny / Creative Commons

The legislature's Public Health Committee is slated to hear testimony Monday on a bill which would allow physicians to help terminally ill patients to end their lives.

The so called aid-in-dying legislation is likely to draw impassioned advocates on both sides. 

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Health Care
9:25 am
Fri March 14, 2014

State Lawmakers Consider Requiring Providers to Offer Some Hepatitis C Screenings

Credit Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill on Friday that would require primary health care providers to offer baby boomers a screening test for Hepatitis C, a contagious liver disease. The proposed legislation would affect patients born between 1945 and 1965.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
12:19 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

The Unfolding Evolution of Origami

Robert J. Lang's Yellow Jacket.
Credit Terri D'Arcangelo

How do you make a 100 meter telescope that folds down to 3 meters so you can tuck it inside a space vehicle? How do you make a heart stent that folds out inside the human body? In each case, researchers have turned to masters of origami, the thousand year-old art of paper folding.

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Lowering Cholesterol
12:00 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Statins Might Not Cause Aching Muscles, But Diabetes Risk Is Real

Statins are widely prescribed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but we may not be getting a clear picture of side effect risks.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 4:22 pm

People taking cholesterol-lowering statins often report having muscle pain and other side effects. Many quit taking the pills as a result.

But the statins aren't to blame, according to an analysis that found muscle problems no more likely with statins than with a placebo pill.

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Medication
2:24 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Healthier Patients May Have To Wait For Costly Hepatitis C Drugs

Sovaldi, a daily oral treatment for hepatitis C, costs $1,000 a pill.
Courtesy of Gilead Sciences

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 5:43 pm

Expensive new drugs for hepatitis C may work better than older treatments, but their high cost undermines their value, a panel of experts said Monday during a daylong forum in San Francisco.

"The price makes it very hard for the health care system," said Steve Pearson, who oversaw the meeting for the California Technology Assessment Forum, a group affiliated with health insurers that holds public meetings to weigh evidence on new treatments.

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Infectious Disease
7:13 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Measles Is Back in Connecticut, New York and Other States

Credit RidvanArda/iStock / Thinkstock

Connecticut's Department of Public Health reported two cases of measles in Fairfield County on Tuesday. This follows several cases in New York City, and a spike in the number of cases last year, even though the disease has already been virtually eliminated from the U.S. since 2000.

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Legal Marijuana
7:43 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Colorado Collected $2.1 Million In January Taxes On Recreational Pot

Marijuana is stored in bins for trimming and packaging in preparation to be sold retail at 3D Cannabis Center, in Denver.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 6:38 pm

For the first time since it legalized recreational marijuana, Colorado is releasing revenue figures: The state made $3.5 million in taxes and fees in January.

As KUSA-TV reports, $2.1 million of that came from the sale of recreational pot and $1.4 million came from medical marijuana.

KUSA adds:

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Legislative Session
6:20 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Poll Shows Support for Bill to Aid Suicide for Terminally Ill

Credit photonewman/iStock / Thinkstock

A new poll shows Connecticut voters strongly support legislation allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients.

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Understanding Death
3:10 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Remembering Dr. Sherwin Nuland, Author of "How We Die"

Dr. Sherwin Nuland.

Best-selling author Dr. Sherwin Nuland has died. His 1994 book, How We Die, took on the medical establishment and its unwinnable fight with death. 

How We Die describes the messy, often harrowing process of dying. 

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Spider Venom
11:43 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Could Tarantula Venom Cure Your Aches and Pains?

Researchers at Yale have identified what they say is a more efficient way to screen thousands of spider neurotoxins against different pain receptors in the body. Above, the Peruvian Green Velvet tarantula.
Credit Yale University

Spider venom could be the next big thing to cure pain, according to research reported in the March issue of Current Biology from Yale University.

There are a lot of different components in venom. And here’s a cheery thought: not every part is out to kill you. 

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Radiation
6:22 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Potassium Iodide Pills to Be Distributed Near Millstone Nuclear Plant

Potassium iodide tablets.
Credit stripes.com

Connecticut is about to receive about 1.3 million potassium iodide pills to be distributed to towns in a ten-mile emergency planning zone around Millstone Power Station in Waterford. The pills protect against radiation in a severe nuclear plant accident.

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For Your Health!
11:55 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Dr. Yogi: Physicians Integrate Yoga Into Medical Practice

Yoga may be more than just an exercise. In Maryland, doctors are learning how to use yoga instead of drugs to treat various medical problems.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 7:50 am

Rajan Narayanan isn't your average yoga instructor. During his classes, he uses words like "neuroplasticity," avoids Sanskrit terms and sometimes shows up to teach in a suit and tie.

And often, as was the case on a recent Monday at a Maryland conference center, most of his students are doctors and nurses.

Stretched out on orange and green yoga mats for a weekend-long workshop, the 30 students learned breathing techniques, lifestyle tips and research findings that support the health benefits of yoga.

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Screenings
3:46 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Mammogram Uncertainty Gives Patients, Doctors More Reason To Talk

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 7:46 am

I am 51 years old and have had a yearly mammogram, more or less, since the age of 40.

I got them despite the fact that there is no history of breast cancer in my family. I did it because that was what my doctor and others, including the American Cancer Society, recommended.

Three years ago, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in situ breast cancer after a screening mammogram. I underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy. The doctors say my prognosis is good.

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Marketing
11:18 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Ads Focused On A Few Drug Risks Might Make Them Memorable

When an ad contains too much information, the most important parts may not stick.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 6:02 pm

The way that prescription drugs are advertised on TV could be better, especially when it comes to communicating the risks and side effects of medicines. Now the Food and Drug Administration is calling for research into how the ads could be improved.

The problem, as Michael Wolf, a health services researcher and cognitive scientist at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine describes it, is that most ads work like this:

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Birth
5:23 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Doctors Urge Patience, And Longer Labor, To Reduce C-Sections

A C-section delivery may be needed to protect the health of mother and child. But too many are done for the wrong reasons, doctors say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 10:22 am

Women with low-risk pregnancies should be allowed to spend more time in labor, to reduce the risk of having an unnecessary C-section, the nation's obstetricians say.

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Disease
2:26 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Flu Strikes Younger Adults Hard This Year

Fredy DeLeon gets a flu shot at a Walgreens pharmacy in Concord, Calif., in January.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 2:42 pm

This year's flu season is hitting younger and middle-aged adults unusually hard, federal health officials say.

More than 60 percent of flu patients who ended up in the hospital this year have been between the ages of 18 and 64. The proportion of young people among the hospitalized is much higher than usual, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only about 35 percent of flu patients who were hospitalized in the previous three years fell into that age group, the CDC says.

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