medicine

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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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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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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.

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.

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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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.

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

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. 

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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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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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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The weekly flu report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found flu cases trending downward nationwide for the week ending February 8. Connecticut, however, remained among six states continuing to report high numbers of cases of the flu. Over 2,600 flu cases have been reported this season.

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Drug companies like operating in the shadows, but a recent move by Johnson and Johnson may change all that. In collaboration with Yale University's Open Data Access Project (YODA), the pharmaceutical giant will now share its clinical trial data with researchers. 

Chion Wolf

  

The actresses Teri Garr and Annette Funicello, the television hosts Montel Williams and Neil Cavuto, the writer Joan Didion, Ann Romney, the wife of the presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the comedian Richard Pryor. These are some of the people that you quote-unquote know that have, or in Pryor's case had, Multiple Sclerosis.

When doctors rush a lung to a hospital for a transplant, the precious cargo arrives in the operating room in a container that seems more appropriate for Bud Light — a cooler filled with ice.

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Heroin use is on the rise in Connecticut and nationwide. According to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, heroin arrests and seizures in the northeast outpace the rest of the country, two to one.

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To some it’s "smack"; to others, it’s "tar." But the majority of us know it as heroin, the dangerously addictive opioid drug that has claimed countless lives across the nation. 

Less than a week ago, 46-year-old actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from a heroin overdose in his Manhattan apartment. Sadly, he’s just one of many creative minds lost to addiction. Singer-songwriter Janis Joplin was 27 when an overdose took her life. Frankie Lymon was 25.

But heroin isn’t just a celebrity drug. Its use spans the country -- particularly in northeast states, like Connecticut, where it has become a growing problem among teens and adults.

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A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine says that hospital stays may be getting safer, at least if you're admitted for a heart condition. 

Researchers used medical record data for more than 61,000 patients from 2005 to 2011. They studied more than 20 common problems patients typically encounter after admission to a hospital -- things like drug reactions, bed sores, and infection.

Think about your fifth-birthday party. Maybe your mom carried the cake. What did her face look like? If you have a hard time imagining the way she looked then rather than how she looks now, you're not alone.

The brain edits memories relentlessly, updating the past with new information. Scientists say that this isn't a question of having a bad memory. Instead, they think the brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful now — even if they're not a true representation of the past.

Ten years ago Dennis Sorensen was setting off fireworks to celebrate New Year's Eve with his family in Denmark when something terrible happened.

"Unfortunately one of the rockets we had this evening was not good and when we light it then it just blew up and, yeah, my hand was, was not that good anymore," says Sorensen.

People who need expensive drugs to treat serious medical conditions often rely on drugmakers' assistance programs for help.

But it's uncertain whether the help will be allowed for people who buy health insurance on the marketplaces established by the federal health law.

With open enrollment ending in less than two months, federal rules remain unclear, leaving patients, advocates and drug programs in limbo.

Over-the-Counter Drugs: A Prescription for Confusion

Feb 3, 2014
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At Able Care Pharmacy and Medical Supplies in Enfield, Ashraf Moustafa often tries to avert disasters involving drugs displayed on his store’s shelves. 

Moustafa, the pharmacy manager, recently spoke to an elderly woman seeking ways to treat dark blue patches on her arms. Instead of suggesting any remedies, he asked the woman what medicines she was taking, and discovered that she was dangerously mixing over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs with aspirin and the prescription blood thinner Plavix. He sent the woman to the hospital, fearing that she was suffering from internal bleeding.

“People have the impression that if a drug is approved for over-the-counter use, then it must be much safer than prescription medicine,” Moustafa says. “That’s when trouble happens.”

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Supporters of legislation that would allow terminally ill patients the right to die gathered at the Capitol Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the advocacy group Compassion & Choices.

Last year's legislation that would have allowed a terminally ill patient to request medication from a doctor that would end his or her life didn't get out of the Public Health Committee. Right-to-die supporters say this year could be different, with a new aid in dying law in Vermont and a recent court action in New Mexico.

There's new evidence that widely prescribed testosterone drugs — touted for men with flagging libidos and general listlessness — might increase the risk of heart attacks.

A study of more than 55,000 men found a doubling of heart attack risk among testosterone users older than 65, compared with men who didn't take the drug.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Over 30 percent of women deliver their babies by Caesarean section in the United States, a significant increase over the five percent of women undergoing the surgical procedure in 1970, and a change that, overall, has not improved the health of newborns.

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