Health

Health news from 90.5 WESA.

Between 2001 and 2011 there was a 21 percent increase in disabilities classified as neurodevelopmental or mental health-related in nature in children.

That’s according to an analysis from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. This is in contrast to physical health-related disabilities in children – that rate dropped 12 percent over the same time period.

More than 12,600 Pennsylvanians are at risk of losing their federal exchange health insurance this September if they do not resolve inconsistencies in their enrollment information, according to the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.

In May, more than 970,000 people were identified by the Department of Health and Human Services as missing information or having contradictory information about their citizenship or immigration status in their data.

Are Fitness Apps Really Worth It?

Aug 14, 2014
Health Gauge / Flickr

Whether it's a pedometer or an app tracking your calories there's no shortage of technological devices to record your fitness endeavors. But, do they work? Are they necessary? How long do people actually use them? Research states one in three people using wearable fitness technology will stop after six months.

Aliquippa-Born Doctor Was An Early Opponent Of Big Tobacco

Aug 12, 2014
United States Government

Only a few decades ago, the public’s attitude toward cigarettes was remarkably different. Cigarettes were smoked in public, they were recommended by doctors, and were even smoked by pregnant women. Awareness of the dangers of smoking, and the public change of opinion can largely be traced to one man: West Aliquippa native Jesse Steinfeld.

Steinfeld was the first surgeon general in the Nixon Administration and spoke out against cigarette smoking, bringing new attention to the risks it posed and leading to the ban of smoking in most public places. He died last week at age 87.

Stanton Glantz who studies the health effects of secondhand smoke at Stanford University, discussed the legacy of Dr. Steinfeld.

Starting Jan. 1, 2015, no workers, visitors or patients will be allowed to smoke on any Allegheny Health Network grounds.

“Anybody whose walked into any facility, health care or otherwise, who has to walk through smoke or be exposed to smoke, it's not a pleasant thing if you're not a smoker," said Allegheny Health Network spokesman Dan Laurent, "particularly in a facility that’s dedicated to preserving health and promoting health.”

Smoking is already not allowed inside Allegheny Health Network facilities.

Caregiver Stress and Supportive Resources

Aug 11, 2014
Donald Lee Pardue / Flickr

In an article for the Post–Gazette, freelance writer Tina Calabro chronicled a tragic murder-suicide that took place in the Mon Valley borough of Port Vue. The incident involved an elderly caregiver of a middle-aged son with developmental disabilities.

In December, 78 year old Richard Lipschok of Port Vue took the life of his 52 year old son before taking his own. The elder Lipschok’s wife died the year before, leaving him wondering how to care for his only son. Calabro thinks the notions of previous generations, where the mother of the family was expected to take care of children, caused part of Lipschok’s distress.

Calabro says cases like this are not as uncommon as they may seem, as a similar incident happened in Philadelphia last summer.

“This murder-suicide type thing happens fairly regularly, but it’s not what most people do. But, we do know that people struggle behind closed doors, that they are silently struggling, and what is the situation of these people and is our public system addressing their need for information and providing services?”

Paramedics and EMTs undergo hundreds of hours of training to know how to respond to a health emergency, but sometimes, nothing can take the place of a physician’s input. Allegheny Valley Hospital is the first in the state to solve this problem by allowing its paramedic response units to connect patients to hospital physicians via iPad in an initiative called “telemedicine.”

One in four people live with some form of mental illness in the United States, according to the Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania.

But Health and Human Services announced recently that seven health centers in the commonwealth will receive a total of $1,750,000 in Affordable Care Act funding.

This will be used to establish or expand behavioral health services for more than 20,900 people in the commonwealth.

The Squirrel Hill Health Center was one of the seven clinics that received $250,000.

Talking CrossFit: Are the Workouts Too Intense?

Aug 7, 2014
Tony Felgueiras / Flickr

Combining cardiovascular and weight training, CrossFit is one of the biggest fitness trends in recent years.  Known for their intensity, CrossFit workouts, if taken to extremes, have resulted in serious injury for some participants.

Jim Crowell is an elite CrossFit athlete and trainer. He's also a former owner of a CrossFit facility. Crowell thinks the workout is excellent, if done safely and the right way. The biggest factor for Crowell is finding the right coach. This is especially important when a CrossFit class might have participants with varying levels of athleticism.

“It's really up to the coach to understand what their limitations are  before the workout starts, and their work is not overly aggressive,” he said.

Another concern about CrossFit is the ease in obtaining a coaching certification and opening a "box," as CrossFit gyms are known. 

“I think where the criticism is coming in is you are having these coaches who have no athletic, training or coaching background opening gyms, and then just trying to line up the most difficult and fun workout that may not have any interest in safety,” Crowell said.

The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh has received a $1.5 million grant to be used in aiding the renovation of its Pediatric Specialty Hospital.

The Economic Growth Initiative Grant will be used to add 14 private hospital rooms and a new common area complete with a kitchen.

“Over the last couple of years we have been filling our beds, and what we don’t ever want is for a child who needs our services to be on a waiting list,” said Jennifer March, director of External Affairs at the Children’s Home.

The entire project will cost the hospital $5.3 million.

  About 15,100 people die each year from hepatitis C, making it the leading cause of chronic liver disease and liver transplantation.

The disease can be contracted through injection drug use, unprotected sex or through contact with the blood of someone who is infected. It can be minor, lasting only a few weeks, or a lifelong battle.

But a study from the University of Pittsburgh shows that hepatitis C could become a “rare” disease by 2036.

As the death toll from the Ebola virus in African continues to climb, and with two Americans infected with the disease coming back to the states for treatment, health officials are trying to calm fears that an outbreak could happen here.

“There’s been concern that bringing these ill Americans home will cause spread of the disease in the U.S. This is not a reasonable concern,” said Carrie DeLone, MD, Pennsylvania’s Physician General. “These individuals are contained in a bubble environment during transport and remain so until they get to their isolation unit here”

Overcoming Physical And Mental Obstacles At Tough Mudder

Aug 1, 2014
Tough Mudder

The Tough Mudder is a 10-12 mile race, filled with obstacles, and designed by members of the British Special Forces. It was created to test the body and mind.

Contestants swim in frigid water, climb across monkey bars covered in grease, and run through live wires. The race has been immensely popular in the United States and around the world.

In the next week the Tough Mudder race comes to Pittsburgh. We talked about how to prepare with Fittsburgh co-founder Joe Vennare and Pittsburgh Tough Mudder course manager John Barker.

A coalition of anti-fracking groups are hoping to ferret out stories of Pennsylvanians who feel they were ignored by the Department of Health when they called to complain about health problems that could be linked to Marcellus Shale gas activities. 

A web-based survey has been created to collect the stories and those who choose to not use the web can call (717) 467-3641 to share their experiences.

Connor Tarter / Flickr

One quarter of Pittsburgh area hospitals closed in the first decade of the 21st Century, drastically reducing the amount of charitable care available to the poor. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Sean Hamill looks at the implications in his two-part series "Poor Health."

Hamill spent a good deal of time speaking to people in clinic waiting rooms, he says while these people know where they can possibly see a doctor, they are only seen for five minutes. Hamill says hospitals were not like this years ago.

“The big advantage to the hospitals that existed before they were torn down…was, once you came in for something more severe than a cold, it might require some specialty care, some diagnostics care, you could get that all within the same hospital. They would keep you there, they would do the triage you required through an emergency room, but they would also make sure you got that next level of care.”

Marcus Charleston / WESA

From annoying ringtones to everyday noise pollution, it seems like our world is getting noisier. The Wonder Boys, Ellis Robinson and Daniel Tkacik of “I Wonder PGH,” went in search of an answer. Their findings are revealed in a thrilling installment of the Mysteries of Pittsburgh. They wondered, was it this hard to find silent spaces 50 or even 100 years ago?

Robinson and Tkacik spoke with author George Prochnik, who answered this question with the research he has done for his latest book, The Pursuit of Silence.

“It can be difficult to make the argument that things are noisier in the sense that everywhere there are higher volumes today than there were in the past. At the same time, there’s not necessarily more noise everywhere, there’s less silence.”

Can Denying Hearing Loss Affect Your Job?

Jul 25, 2014
chrissylong / Flickr

A new research survey by EPIC Hearing Healthcare finds that 30 percent of U.S. employees suspect they have hearing loss, but have not sought treatment.

Of those, almost 95 percent say it impacts them on the job yet many go out of their way to hide their hearing loss for fear of losing their job.

Pittsburgh audiologist, Dr. Suzanne Yoder says preconceived notions about hearing loss is what hinders most people from getting the help they need.

“Hearing loss unfortunately has that bad reputation where people feel like if they admit they have a hearing problem, they’re going to be seen as being old, which is something that they don’t want. Or, they’ll be seen as less capable, that their employer will think less of them, or treat them differently, maybe not give them that promotion. The sad thing is, it’s actually the reverse. You treat your hearing loss and you deal with the issues, you’re more likely to earn a better living. There’s research to back that up, that shows there’s a loss of salary for those with untreated hearing loss. It’s extremely important to go out and start dealing with it and not bluffing your way through conversations. The reality is, when you bluff, when you pretend, you end up looking worse.”

One of the last things people might think about on a beautiful summer day is giving blood, and the American Red Cross is starting to notice that the drop in donations could be serious.

Blood donations have decreased by 8 percent over the last 11 weeks meaning that the Red Cross is down by approximately 80,000.

“This shortfall is significant enough that without increased donor turnout we could experience an emergency situation in coming weeks,” said Marianne Spampinato, Red Cross’s External Communications Manager.

Controlling blood-loss is key when emergency responders on helicopters rush patients with traumatic injuries to the hospital.

That’s why University of Pittsburgh trauma experts are launching a trial to see if the blood-clotting drug,  tranexamic acid (TXA) could save lives by helping medics gain control of internal bleeding.

When it comes to prescribing pain medications for patients with chronic diseases, Pennsylvania is doing OK – but could be doing better.

That’s according to the 2013 "Achieving Balance in State Pain Policy: A Progress Report Card," which gave the commonwealth a “B” grade.

The report card was created by the University of Wisconsin Pain & Policy Studies Group and was funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), its Cancer Action Network (CAN) and LIVESTRONG.

Could text messaging help reduce binge drinking among young adults?

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine suggests that this might be the case.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Binge drinking is considered to be five drinks or more for men and  four drinks or more for women generally over a two hour period.

Brian Suffoletto, lead author of the study and an assistance professor of emergency medicine at Pitt, said binge drinking in the U.S. has become an epidemic.

In Pennsylvania, newborns are screened for more than 40 conditions, but only six of these screenings are mandatory according to Dr. Robert Cicco, the associate director of the neonatal intensive care unit at West Penn Hospital.

However, a new law will add a seventh condition to that list, requiring hospitals to screen babies for severe heart disease using a pulse oximetry test.

Eleven patients from a unit at UPMC Presbyterian were moved to other parts of the hospital following the detection of legionella in several sinks in a recently-remodeled area.

There are no confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease, but UPMC spokeswoman Wendy Zellner said the patients were moved as a precautionary measure.

“We are following our normal Legionella monitoring and prevention protocols and expect the unit to reopen soon after proper remediation measures are taken,” Zellner said in a statement.

Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for every adult in the U.S. to have a bottle of pills, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gary Tennis, secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), said that since 2000, prescription drug and heroin overdoses have quadrupled. 

About 400,000 coronary artery bypass graft surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year, and roughly one in five patients goes on to experience clinical depression. But all that could change because of a telephone.

According to University of Pittsburgh researchers, monitoring patient depression and administering a nurse-led intervention via a phone call bi-weekly not only improves quality of life and mood, but it’s also cost-effective and cost-saving.

When most Pennsylvanians are incarcerated, the Department of Corrections must foot the bill for their health care costs.

That’s according to Susan Bensinger, Deputy Press Secretary, who said the department works to pay that bill in a way that provides community-standard care for the inmates while utilizing taxpayer money in the most efficient way possible.

A study released Tuesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation suggests that the department has been successful in that mission.

A five-year agreement between Allegheny Health Network and Johns Hopkins Medicine has been signed, finalizing a partnership between AHN and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Washington, DC.

“Cancer patients and their families benefit and their outcomes improve when we share knowledge and expertise because then we can accelerate knowledge transfer and treatment advances outside of communities where patients live,” said Dr. David Parda, system chair of the AHN Cancer Institute.

The Allegheny Health Department reported that 30% of school age kids in the county are obese or overweight, and a new Pittsburgh start-up aims to address this issue with animated characters shaped like food and 6 years of research at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).  

Fitwits combines stories, games, and instructions for parents and professionals on how to deal with the sensitive subject of obesity.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

On a recent afternoon, Kelly Liartis is at Magee Women’s Hospital for a check-up. She’s talking to her doctor Hyagriv Simhan about her soon-to-be-born baby — and her frequent summer asthma flare-ups.

He's telling her that despite her fears, its actually OK to use her inhaler ... it's been used in pregnancy, as he says with a laugh, for a "bajillion years."

90.5 WESA's Michael Lynch

When you think of Pittsburgh’s Market Square, yoga probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

But hundreds of people gathered at the downtown hotspot today to talk about health and fitness, as well as try their hand at a little downward-facing dog.

More than 30 local exhibitors set up shop in downtown Pittsburgh for the Pop Up Outdoor Wellness Fair, sharing information on farming, fitness and food.

Pages