Health

Rebecca Pollard / Flickr

Allegheny County teens, on the whole, look fairly healthy in comparison to teens around the nation, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Allegheny County Health Department.

Of the 1,600 teens surveyed, 96 percent said they have health insurance and 62 percent reported getting one hour or more of moderate or vigorous exercise every day. Other areas raised red flags for health officials.

Mike McNeil / Flickr

Allegheny County is one of four sites nationwide to be chosen for a new initiative aimed at improving health throughout the county.

The Bridging for Health: Improving Community Health Through Innovations in Financing initiative will have the health department working with the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to simplify and strengthen the links among different health-related areas, according to Karen Hacker, Allegheny County Health Department director.

Members of the Allegheny County HIV/AIDS Commission delivered an annual update to Pittsburgh City Council members Tuesday afternoon.

They recapped efforts they have made in the last year, spoke of partnerships and spoke of their plans for this coming year.

Commission member Betty Hill, who is also director of the Persad Center, said the awareness level of routine HIV testing is low, and the commission wants to change that.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced the results of a five month investigation into the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI)’s enforcement of Act 102, a 2008 law to limit excessive overtime work for health care professionals.

According to DePasquale, the department failed to implement the law quickly and effectively. He called Labor and Industry “negligent” for its failure to respond to health care workers’ complaints and develop regulations in a timely manner.

Surgery can be more risky as one ages, and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have found that in the case of lumbar spinal stenosis, surgery may not always be the best option. Lumbar spinal stenosis is common with aging.

The flu season is reaching its peak and many have been feeling the effects.

That’s according to Dr. David Nace, director of long-term care and flu programs for the Division of Geriatric Medicine at UPMC and medical director at the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging.

Nace says the flu has been widespread this season, but not as virulent.
“We’re certainly seeing a lot more overall activity than we did last year, in terms of numbers of hospitalizations," he said. "What’s interesting though is last year we saw a lot more critical illness.”

The more public health data is shared, the better the world’s public health outcome.

So says an analysis that was recently released by a team of researchers, including several from The University of Pittsburgh. The analysis was published in the journal BMC Public Health.

At present, public health data isn’t always shared on a local, national or international data. Researchers wanted to know why public health data isn’t shared as widely as for example genomic data is.

The Corbett administration has to come up with a plan to reopen state health centers after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled it can’t close any of its 60 public health hubs statewide.

“We are still reviewing the ruling in full to determine the implications to the plan moving forward and will be providing additional communication to the public and to our staff as soon as that review is complete,” said Aimee Tysarczyk, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health.

Blue Mind: How Water Improves Our Quality of Life

Nov 12, 2014
joseph a / Flickr

 Why is the sound and image of water so soothing to us? Why does being near water improve our wellbeing? And how can this understanding help us make better decisions about water conservation and urban design?

Author,

and neuroscientist, Wallace J. Nichols explores these questions and many more in his book “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science that Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.”

He’s coming to Pittsburgh to take part in the Inspire Speakers Series, in conjunction with Riverlife, a local organization that works on the development of Pittsburgh's riverfront park systems. Wallace J. Nichols joins us along with Stephan Bontrager, Director of Communications for Riverlife.

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.

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.

Ryan Loew / 90.5WESA

Nearly 1 in 3 school age children in the Pittsburgh region is overweight or obese. Last January Allegheny County launched the Live Well project to improve the health of county residents, particularly students, through health and fitness. It’s one of the leading health initiatives undertaken by Dr. Karen Hacker, Allegheny County’s Health Department Director.

Pittsburgh firefighters are asking state lawmakers to ban chemicals found in flame-retardant furniture.

According to Pittsburgh Firefighters Deputy Chief Frank Large, studies have found that these chemicals increase the number of cancer deaths in firefighters inhaling the chemicals. Flame-retardant materials that are found in 85 percent of couches in American homes become carcinogens when ignited in a house fire.

Large says firefighters are given state of the art technology to filter the smoke they breathe in, but that isn’t enough to protect them from these chemicals.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

On a typical weekday morning, 47-year-old Tek Nepal is moving about the Mount Oliver duplex he shares with his wife, sons, daughter-in-law and grandchild.

He works nights, so he gets his family time in the mornings. And often, that time centers around eating.

Those meals used to consist of lots of starches. But since a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis in 2012, they have changed.

Wind chill temperatures are expected to dip to more than 30 below zero in southwestern Pennsylvania Monday night and Tuesday morning, which means exposed skin could freeze in less than 5 minutes.

New Arrivals in the US Face Vast Health Challenges

Jan 6, 2014

Immigrants come to the United States fleeing war and genocide. Others arrive seeking better opportunities for their families. But whether they are refugees from Nepal seeking asylum or undocumented Mexican families in Los Angeles, immigrants share common circumstances. Many arrive healthy but develop chronic illnesses as they adopt American habits. Many feel isolated and alone – suffering that can turn toxic over time.

Fifth (Pittsburgh)Red Celebrates AIDS Awareness

Dec 2, 2013
Tim Camerato/90.5 WESA

County officials, HIV/AIDS advocates, and survivors gathered in downtown Pittsburgh Monday to mark International World AIDS Day and to blow up a 30-foot balloon ribbon onto Fifth Ave. Place.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald noted it’s been more than 30 years since the first AIDS cases were reported.

"The Fault in Our Stars," a movie adaptation of a critically and commercially popular young adult novel, has just finished filming in Pittsburgh and in the Netherlands.

The book and movie center around two teenagers who meet and fall in love at a cancer support group. Many of the extras in the movie are young people with cancer.

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the movie adaptation of the beloved novel. Book author John Green says the story goes against the typical trope popular media brings us about the ailing.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

With sexual violence can come a host of mental health issues — depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder to name a few. But dealing with the judicial system can also bring a slew of problems for victims.

Innovative Concussion Evaluation Technology

Sep 25, 2013
GENuine 1986 / Flickr

According to the Center for Disease Control, almost 2 million people each year suffer from concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.

In the sports world, concussions have been in the limelight as athletes come forward with reports of lasting affects from the brain injuries they sustained while playing. As a result, the sports community is becoming increasingly aware of how important it is to properly treat a concussion and gather as much data as possible close to the time of impact.

C3 Logix is a new, innovative concussion evaluation technology that provides on site data collection at the time of injury, to better aid physicians in diagnosis and treatment. The program is loaded into an iPad and before the season starts, athletes perform a series of neurocognitive tests. The program tracks the athlete’s visual reflexes and their ability to focus on moving objects. Results of these baseline tests can then be compared to data logged in incident reports at the time of suspected brain injury.

Flickr user vitualis

On Oct. 1, the health insurance exchanges that are a key part of the Affordable Care Act open. It can be confusing, however, so here is some basic information and resources to help with understanding Obamacare. You may also want to read a Q&A from NPR's Morning Edition about the ACA. 90.5 WESA's daily magazine program Essential Pittsburgh will host public forum on the topic Thursday.

With less than two weeks until Pennsylvania's online health insurance marketplace opens to the public, advocates are trying to spread the word about its offerings.

For people who feel the slightest pecuniary pinch and don't have significant health coverage, the soon-to-launch state exchange offers a chance to shop at a discount.

Financial assistance will be available to some purchasing health care plans through the marketplace opening Oct. 1, allowing those individuals to greatly reduce the percentage of their income spent on coverage.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

In Clarion County’s Licking Township there are vibrant green hills, windy narrow roads and traffic signs posted just as much for the trucks and tractors as for the horses and buggies.

It's a small, rural farming community north of Pittsburgh.

When you pull up to Emmanuel Schmidt’s home, you see acres of land, his woodworking shop and carriages. The 49-year-old Amish farmer knows Obamacare is coming, but he doesn’t quite know what that means.

"I’ve wondered, I’ve really wondered what’s going to happen with the health care, I don’t know," he said. 

Elderly patients hospitalized with an infection, like pneumonia, are twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those who were not.

That’s according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh that followed 5,888 patients over the age of 65 in four areas across the country: Winston-Salem, N.C.; Sacramento, Calif.; Hagerstown, Md.; and Pittsburgh.

The study was done in conjunction with researchers from the University of Washington, University of California, University of Illinois, John Hopkins University and Columbia Medical Center.

A recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry used brain scans to measure blood flow to parts of the brain associated with emotion regulation to gauge if the subjects had unipolar depression or bipolar disorder.

The study hoped to identify brain function markers that identified the two types of depression.

The study used 44 Pittsburgh-area women and was conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Kings College London, the University of South Florida and the University of Texas Southwestern.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Rachel Zwipf is packing. Boxes scattered around her home are being filled with pots, children’s toys and framed photos.

She’s moving to North Carolina, leaving behind a good job, her family and painful memories of Pittsburgh.  

"His name was Sean Thompson, but we all called him Lydell," she said.

Two summers ago, Zwipf’s fiancé was murdered in Lawrenceville, just a few blocks from their home. They were already planning to move. Thompson had spent years in jail for a slew of offenses and wanted a new start.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine plan to expand their Vascular Medicine Institute over the next five years, by creating the Heart, Lung Blood and Vascular Medicine Institute, or VMI.

Dr. Mark Gladwin, co-director of VMI, said it will be a hub for research.

"This will be the research home for scientists and physicians and physician scientists that have primary appointments within cardiology, pulmonary and hematology," he said.

Dr. Arvind Venkat says that hospital emergency rooms are basically an autistic person’s worst nightmare.

“I think if you were to purposefully design an environment that was going to be difficult for an autistic patient, you could not do worse than what we do day to day in emergency medicine,” he said.

Meddy Garnet / Flickr

Hypertension, known as the “Silent Killer,” is more prevalent in Allegheny County African Americans than any other group. Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension has taken the lives of over 50,000 people in the last year.

Dr. Indu Poornima is a cardiologist at Allegheny General Hospital and conducts research with high blood pressure patients in Allegheny County. She says the increased prevalence of obesity and stressors, along with access to health care and genetic predispositions, are all possible factors that cause hypertension.

A new study partially conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that those with the herpes simplex virus 1, which typically causes cold sores, displayed reduced cognitive function.

The researchers studied people in India with and without herpes and with and without schizophrenia. They looked at their cognitive functions using a computerized battery and assessed different aspects of top processes.

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