There has been a carefully guarded secret in medicine: Evidence is often inconclusive, and experts commonly disagree about what it means.
Most medical decisions aren't cut and dried. Instead they're usually made with uncertainty about what is best for each person.
This uncertainty secret has been revealed in a very public disagreement among experts about who should be treated for high blood pressure. The controversy hinges on the level of blood pressure that should serve as a trigger for treatment.
The Affordable Care Act is the signature piece of the president's domestic agenda and it's now, finally, operational. The question is: Is it working? On Where We Live we talk Obamacare and ask whether it is doing what it promised - helping the nation's poor and uninsured.
Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 7:19 pm
If you think the recent liberalization of marijuana laws around the country is only about smoking leaves and buds, think again. For users younger than 25, "hash oil" is where it's really at. This concentrated resin of marijuana is creating new public safety headaches — even in places where it's legal.
There have always been forms of the substance, but the resins available today are much stronger than in years past. That's due in part to the expertise developed by medical marijuana producers, who have learned how to make more potent versions of the oil.
Identical twins are just like us - and then they're not! From Ann Landers and Dear Abbey, from the Castro brothers, one of whom might be our first identical twin president one day, carbon-copy twins live lives that the rest of us cannot fathom.
Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 9:08 am
The Justice Department will answer a challenge Friday morning to a controversial provision in the new health care law. It requires most employers that offer health insurance to include birth control at no cost.
A group of Catholic nuns has objected to that, and this week they won a temporary reprieve from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It's an unusual test case, but it won't be the last one.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 3:43 pm
Federal regulators this month opened a new era in the treatment of a deadly liver virus that infects three to five times more people than HIV. Now the question is: Who will get access to the new drug for hepatitis C, and when?
The drug Sovaldi will cost $1,000 per pill. A typical course of treatment will last 12 weeks and run $84,000, plus the cost of necessary companion drugs. Some patients may need treatment for twice as long.
Doctors have long suspected that head trauma boosts the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease later on, but the evidence on that has been mixed.
But it looks like people who have memory problems and a history of concussion are more likely to have a buildup of plaques in the brain that are a risk factor for Alzheimer's, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic.
In January, the state's Department of Consumer Protection will begin awarding the first ever licenses to medical marijuana producers and dispensers in Connecticut. While the licenses are awarded by the state, it's been left up to individual towns to decide if they want to host one of these facilities. Two communities in Connecticut have taken very different approaches to this new industry.
A group of doctors in a leading medical journal are issuing a blunt warning to consumers: "stop wasting money" on vitamins. At least 50 percent of Americans use vitamins or dietary supplements, "despite sobering evidence of no benefit," according to the editorial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 5:17 pm
We're all supposed to be eating right, but most of us are not doing a very good job of that.
Could you eat an apple a day?
Adding in that one piece of fruit could improve cardiovascular health on a par with prescribing of cholesterol-lowering statins for everyone over age 50, according to a report published Tuesday in BMJ.
The state Department of Consumer Protection is expected to award licenses by early 2014 to producers and dispensaries for the newly legalized medical marijuana market. In a ripple effect, other companies are also gearing up to grow market share in a new industry, estimated at $1.7 billion nationally by the Wall Street Journal, and predicted to quadruple in size during the next five years.
Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 3:23 pm
About one-third of American adults say they have problems falling asleep. And prescriptions for sleeping medications are on the rise, with about 4 percent of people using the drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But sleep specialists say people should exercise caution before deciding to take medication to help them sleep.
Students at the University of New Haven are developing a DNA test that could detect contaminants in medical marijuana. Dr. Heather Coyle, a forensic botanist and associate professor at UNH, said patients using pot for medicinal purposes could be harmed by contaminants that they can't see.
Federal officials and medical experts say when medical personnel respond more aggressively during mass casualty events, it can save lives. The Obama administration is formally recommending that emergency medical personnel be sent into so-called “warm zones” during mass attacks to try and prevent death by controlling victims’ early bleeding.
Long before we knew how the cardiovascular worked, ancient doctors may have recognized what we call hypertension. It seemed like maybe there was too much blood, so they treated it with leeches.
Even today, high blood pressure is a little bit mysterious. The way it's typically measured may be the wrong way. And, it's not caused by one single factor so no single drug treats all the things that cause high blood pressure.
A new Yale study offers hope for parents who have children with autism spectrum disorders. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the double-blind, placebo-controlled study consisted of 17 children and adolescents considered to have moderate- to high-functioning autism.
Thirty-seven companies have applied to the state for the right to produce or dispense medical marijuana. The Department of Consumer Protection said it expects to award licenses under the state's new medical marijuana law early next year.
Students at the Yale School of Medicine spent time last week delivering bad news to patients. Their task was grim: one student told a woman she had breast cancer while another broke the news to a professional athlete that he blew out his knee and would never play football again.
Except there was one catch. The patients were actors, responding in real time to medical students as part of a "bad news" seminar aimed at teaching the skills of patient-centered interviewing.
It's no secret to say that health care has been undergoing radical change in this country. But what's less well-known is that the state of Connecticut is going beyond the current changes in the Affordable Care Act to address the way we deliver care and pay for medical services. And some consumer advocates are disturbed by the results.
Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 12:27 pm
Voters in Massachusetts overwhelmingly approved legalizing medical marijuana in 2012. But many local communities are putting temporary bans in place as the deadline for final applications for state licensed marijuana treatment centers approaches.
About a third of the state’s 351 cities and towns have put in place moratoriums on medical marijuana treatment centers, according to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. Springfield is the largest city in the state to adopt a moratorium. It was approved by the city council Monday night.
That gets us into some touchy territory. Some say that salt is a major factor for high blood pressure, and some say that it's more complicated than that. We can't NOT eat salt, but in the grand scheme of things, are we eating more now than ever, or way less?
Connecticut might have to prepare for an even larger role in marijuana regulation, if there's a federal decriminalization of the drug. The state itself is in the midst of implementing a law that allows for the production and dispensing of marijuana for medical purposes.
One out of every three women gives birth by Cesarean-section in the United States today. That's up from one in five women in 1996, and one in 20 women in 1970. In a new book, Cut It Out, Trinity College Professor Theresa Morris calls this an "epidemic."