Health

Jarus Health Technologies

Public health organizations are increasingly considering how they can use technology to battle the opioid epidemic that has claimed hundreds of lives in southwestern Pennsylvania in recent years. Health care experts, students, investors and entrepreneurs will gather Thursday evening to discuss the opioid epidemic and develop collective solutions utilizing technology. “The resources we have are only going to stretch so far,” said Jan Pringle, director of the Program Evaluation and Resource...

Jon Olav Eikenes / Flickr

A recent study found the number of concussion diagnoses in Pennsylvania is spiking, but that’s not necessarily because they’re happening more often. The report from Blue Cross Blue Shield found concussion diagnoses among 10 to 19-year-olds in the state jumped 85 percent between 2010 and 2015. The report doesn’t specify how the concussions were received, nor does it speculate as to why the numbers are increasing. But Allegheny Health Network Sports Concussion Program Director Edward Snell said...

Looking At Addiction As A Health Crisis

Dec 3, 2016
Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

For the past 20 years, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, has been a vocal advocate for drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Pennsylvania. And he’s been pushing the public and lawmakers to stop looking at addiction as a crime. “Addiction has to be looked at like a disease and it is, like other diseases, highly treatable, and treatment works,” he said. DiGirolamo got some support from the federal government this month in the form of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s first-of-its-kind report , ...

Aaron Warnick / PublicSource

What was supposed to be a routine visit to the pediatrician with little Oren resulted in a finding that sent Katy Rank Lev and her husband, Corey, into a frenzy. Their 1-year-old had lead in his blood.

Richard Pedroncelli / ap

The Allegheny County Board of Health has placed e-cigarettes under nearly all of the same regulations as traditional cigarettes when it comes to use indoors. The vote Wednesday came after a series of speakers asked for the policy to be rejected. Former smoker Dale Ray spoke in opposition to the regulations. He said he had diminished lung function due to his smoking habit. He said tried to quit smoking several times but it never stuck until he tried e-cigarettes. “After three or four weeks I...

Mark / Flickr

Pennsylvania officials are making progress on rules to govern the state's new medical marijuana program, including how dispensaries will operate and the fees paid by growers and processors. The Department of Health on Tuesday posted draft regulations for dispensaries . No facilities in Pennsylvania have been approved to sell medical marijuana, but there are 103 families in the state who can already legally own the drug. “This means that 103 parents, legal guardians, care givers, or spouses of...

At the Marshfield Clinic dental center in Chippewa Falls, Wis., hygienist Karen Eslinger is getting her room ready. It's all quite routine — covering the chair's headrest with plastic, opening instruments, wiping down trays. But then she starts getting creative. "My next patient is pretty tiny and frail, so I like to go to oral surgery and get a heated blanket. I wrap her up, and I think it soothes her," Eslinger says. The patient is 16-year-old Kathy Falk. She has Rett syndrome , which is a...

Richard Drew / AP

Restrictions on what Medicaid and Medicare will cover for nursing home patients can often lead to unnecessary hospitalizations – an estimated $8 billion in unnecessary hospitalizations each year, in fact. For example, a nursing home patient would be hospitalized for a common ailment such as pneumonia or a skin ulcer in order to have their treatment covered. In that case, Medicaid and Medicare will pay extra for hospital visits, but not nursing home care. But a program through the University...

Penn State Hershey Medical Center

The National Institutes of Health is awarding a $20 million grant to Penn State Health's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine. The funds essentially aim to use scientific discoveries to make healthier communities. The money will go towards training programs for faculty, staff and students, groundbreaking research, as well as a data system that will be able to analyze information to predict and prevent disease. It will connect research done at 10 different...

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

When then-Pittsburgh Mayor Richard Caliguiri died from amyloidosis in 1988 not much was known about the disease. Since then, research and awareness has increased and now an endowed chair is being created to further research and treatment at the University of Pittsburgh. Amyloidosis is a systemic disease that usually attacks the heart but can impact other internal organs. The Caliguiri Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation is giving $460,000, combined with a $275,000 grant from the Simeon M. and...

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A small start-up in East Liberty is working on an in-home test kit that could help predict the risk of having a heart attack. Accel Diagnostics is placing a common blood test done in hospitals onto a device no bigger than a credit card. Vice President of Engineering Greg Lewis said the test could measure B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) or troponin, both of which are released when heart muscles are overly stressed. The idea is to know when a patient is at high risk for things like a...

Bizuayehu Tesfaye / AP for College of American Pathologists

The most common treatment for women with breast cancer is a lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy. But a growing number of patients who have pacemakers or mini defibrillators are recommended by doctors to opt for a mastectomy, for fear of negatively impacting those devices.

US Army Corps of Engineers / flickr

The Allegheny County Health Department is attempting to cut the number of flu cases this season by offering four types of vaccines, all injection-based. Allegheny County Health Department Director Karen Hacker said the vaccinations are all available at the department’s clinic in Oakland . This year, it will not offer the FluMist nasal spray vaccine. Hacker said it was not as effective as other vaccines and is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, she said...

Elvert Barnes / Flickr

Black health experts want to leverage growing awareness of racial inequality into a fight against cigarettes. Lung cancer kills black men at higher rates than any other group nationwide, and last week a group of health experts and activists called for President Barack Obama to ban menthol cigarettes, making a direct link between health and social justice. The federal government found that four in five black smokers have smoked menthols, as The New York Times reports. The mint flavoring makes...

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Navy veteran Ken Haynes stepped off a beefed-up RV, sporting military logos and said he was impressed with the vehicle. The RV was a Vet Center ’s mobile unit, touring the Pittsburgh area this week. Haynes stopped by on Wednesday when it was parked outside the Veterans Leadership Program offices in the Strip District. Later, it parked and opened its doors at the River Hounds Game on the South Side. “They’re mobile, sophisticated, they can link up with other areas and they’re available for...

Matt Rourke / AP

Last June, nearly 200 members of the state House of Representatives and Gov . Tom Wolf pushed for a special legislative session to address the opioid crisis that has killed more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians in the past two years. House Speaker Mike Turzai stood inside the Capitol rotunda just a few months ago. "We will be asking the Governor to give this heightened attention by calling the General Assembly into special session," he said. Now, it appears it won't happen. Republicans and Democrats...

Sorry, kids. Your pediatrician will probably give you the flu vaccine in the form of a shot this year. The American Academy of Pediatrics said Tuesday that it doesn't recommend using the flu vaccine that comes as a nasal spray. That's because the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at its performance last year and concluded it wasn't up to snuff. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices found that FluMist was only 3 percent effective in children aged 2...

An experimental drug dramatically reduced the toxic plaques found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease, a team reports in the journal Nature . Results from a small number of patients who received a high dose of the drug, called aducanumab , hint that it may also be able to slow the loss of memory and thinking. "If that hint of a clinical benefit is confirmed, it would be a game changer in the fight against Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. Eric Reiman , executive director of the...

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

In addition to bringing a baby into the world, many of The Midwife Center’s birth stories share a common anecdote – one of the mother-to-be going in and out of the building while their partner or family member searches for parking.

Part One in an NPR Ed series on mental health in schools. You might call it a silent epidemic. Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year. So in a school classroom of 25 students, five of them may be struggling with the same issues many adults deal with: depression, anxiety, substance abuse. And yet most children — nearly 80 percent — who need mental health services won't get them. Whether treated or not, the children do go to...

St. Clair Hospital

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. is known for employing doctors with highly refined subspecialties, and now St. Clair Hospital doctors can tap into that expertise. An agreement between the two hospitals, finalized this week, will allow St. Clair doctors to access eTumor Boards – a virtual version of tumor board reviews, in which multiple doctors brainstorm ways to treat an individual patient. “There are certainly cancers that affect millions of people in the United States but there are...

National Human Genome Research Institute / genome.gov

At the most basic level cancer can be defined as the DNA of a normal cell going haywire.

Artisanal Food Waste: Can You Turn Scraps Into Premium Products?

Aug 19, 2016

Many efforts to address the food waste crisis hinge on getting consumers to buy fruits and vegetables that are adorably ugly — the bumpy tomato, the bulbous carrot, the dinged apple. Taste and nutritional value aren't compromised by their irregular appearance. Still, many stores discount blemished produce — a concession to convention aimed at keeping the product moving briskly off the shelves and away from landfills. Earlier this summer, Wal-Mart launched an ugly apple pilot program at 300 of...

Buried in the fine print of many marketplace health plan documents is language that allows them to refuse to cover a range of services that are used more often by women, a study finds. It's unclear if these exclusions have prevented patients from getting needed treatments. An insurance industry representative says patients are generally able to get care if it's appropriate for them. Yet some women with a family history of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, for instance, may have gaps in...

Dozens of journal articles cross our desks at NPR each week and, like nurses in the emergency room, we need to do rapid triage. First we scan for those in critical need of attention (they aren't all that frequent). Next we look for studies that are interesting but not essential. Finally, we ask ourselves whether articles that are iffy need some attention anyway, since other news organizations are going to run with them. We figure Shots readers would like to see our take. One study now caught...

How The Placebo Effect Could Boost An Olympic Performance

Aug 14, 2016

Olympic medals are won by margins of tenths or even hundredths of a second. So, it's no surprise that athletes want any edge they can get — even methods not backed by a lot of scientific evidence. The alternative practice du jour in Rio, so far, has been cupping . In years past it was special, stretchy tape , said to support sore muscles and improve range of motion. And dietary supplements are an ever-popular option. Like every other treatment or intervention, though, these purported...

Nati Harnik / AP

Noelle, who is in labor at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, tells a nurse that she isn't feeling right. Then her water breaks. The nurse checks the monitors and realizes that the umbilical cord has prolapsed. This is an obstetrical emergency. Noelle has had this emergency — and others — thousands of times in the past three years that she has been in the simulation lab at Conemaugh. Noelle Birthing Simulator, made by Gaumard Scientific Co., Florida, is a full-size mannequin used...

Courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The healthy human gut is home to hundreds of millions of bacteria species. But people who are missing a few hundred or so particular species are at greater risk for certain health issues, including Crohn’s disease, which is characterized by chronic inflammation of the bowels. Richard Duerr, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, is co-senior author of a study linking that lack of gut diversity with a specific genetic variation. Duerr said researchers have long known...

Three college-age scientists think they know how to solve a huge problem facing medicine. They think they've found a way to overcome antibiotic resistance. Many of the most powerful antibiotics have lost their efficacy against dangerous bacteria, so finding new antibiotics is a priority. It's too soon to say for sure if the young researchers are right, but if gumption and enthusiasm count for anything, they stand a fighting chance. I met Zach Rosenthal, Christian Choe and Maria Filsinger...

How Many Calories Do Olympic Athletes Need?

Aug 5, 2016

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 25, 2012. Food, as we so often note on this blog, means a lot of different things to different people. To Olympic athletes, food is fuel for exceptional athletic performance. But there's a surprising amount of variety in just how much fuel elite athletes need. Anyone who followed Michael Phelps' astonishing performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games surely will remember one of the secrets of his success: Consuming as many as 12...

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