Health/Science/Tech | KERA News

Health/Science/Tech

Every week, KERA explores the latest in health, science and technology in North Texas through two main series, Vital Signs and Breakthroughs.

University of North Texas Ph.D candidate Ethan McBride prepares the precursor to the illegal drug PCP in a trailer.
Credit Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Vital Signs

In Vital Signs, Sam Baker taps into the expertise of local health care leaders to provide insight into your everyday health and well-being.

Breakthroughs

In Breakthroughs, KERA reporters delve into the latest health-related technologies developed in North Texas and across the state. From the Zika virus to fried chicken, no scientific topic is off limits. 

Learn more in-depth multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

For someone who has Parkinson’s disease, movement can be the greatest challenge. That’s why doctors are urging Parkinson’s patients to hit the dance floor.

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Health insurance companies aren’t the only ones competing for your money as the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate deadline approaches. Scammers are also trying to get in on the confusion. According to Jim Quiggle, a national spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. There are a variety of tricks con artists use to get sensitive information – most often they’ll pose as representatives of government agencies.

Connor Industries

The Obama Administration is delaying part of the health-care reform law that requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance.  That's good news for Fort Worth small business owner Grady Payne, CEO of Connor Industries.

Since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, mental health has made headlines nationally and locally. For a time, it seemed like everyone was talking about the importance of mental health care -- from politicians like President Obama and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to stars like Demi Lovato and Bradley Cooper. But spending on mental health is seriously lagging behind when compared to other medical conditions. As Catherine Rampell of the New York Times reports, direct mental health spending in the U.S. has remained roughly 1 percent of the economy since 1986, while total health spending climbed from about 10 percent of gross domestic product in 1986 to nearly 17 percent in 2009.

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The number of prescription painkiller overdose deaths in women increased 400 percent between 1999 and 2010, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden says he’s never seen such a big increase. It’s nearly double the rise in overdose deaths among men during that time.

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Like many American holidays, a Fourth of July celebration for many is tied to food – and usually not the nutritious kind. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In this week’s Vital Signs, Lona Sandon of UT Southwestern Medical Center shares suggestions for healthier eating with KERA’s Sam Baker, beginning with burgers and hot dogs.

Stella Chavez / KERA News

It would be nice if triple digits were limited to paychecks, area codes, and padlocks. But that’s not the case in Dallas-Fort Worth. The summer’s first triple-digit temperature made an early arrival this week, and Friday was even hotter. Here are four tips to beat the heat.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Hundreds of mental health specialists from across the state are gathered today in Downtown Dallas for the 28th Annual Texas Council of Mental Health Centers Conference.

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As part of National HIV Testing Day, there will be locations across DFW offering free testing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV and almost one in five don’t know they’re infected.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

The leading cause of blindness in adults in is age-related macular degeneration. More than a million Americans have it. And while there are some ways to keep the disease from getting worse, there’s no way to restore sight once it’s been lost. As part of KERA’s Breakthroughs project, Lauren Silverman reports on one North Texas woman who is among the first in the nation to have a new procedure that’s made it possible for her to see details she thought were lost forever.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unveiled its new HealthCare.gov website, featuring a 24/7 educational hotline for information about the health insurance marketplace set to open on October 1st. 

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Nearly 160,000 people die of lung cancer each year. Many cases aren’t discovered until the advanced stage. But research since a 2011 trial involving older, heavy smokers indicates low-dose or low radiation CT scans outperform chest X-rays in detecting early signs of lung cancer and reducing its death rate. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Kartik Konduri, co-director of the Lung Cancer Center of Excellence at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, explains why Baylor Health Care recently has expanded its use of low-dose CT scans to screen high risk patients.

At least 165,000 low income kids in Dallas don’t need to go hungry this summer. That’s because there’s free breakfast and lunch for those 18 and under all across Dallas county, for children who usually get free food at school.

 

Just as we have internal clocks that help regulate the systems in our bodies, fruit and vegetable plants have circadian rhythms, too.

And a new study published in Current Biology finds there may be a way to boost some of the beneficial compounds in plants by simulating the light-dark cycle after crops are harvested.

So, how does it work?

Illustration by Karen Carr

One hole in the ground of Alaska has revealed a second great surprise. Paleontologists from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas have uncovered a baby dinosaur in the same spot they uncovered a new species of dinosaur years ago.

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There are few things less popular than a colonoscopy. So it comes as welcome news to many that a new blood test might be able to detect colon cancer before it develops.

BJ Austin / KERA News

Government officials are at Parkland Hospital for a critical review that will determine if the Dallas County public hospital keeps federal funding, which accounts for nearly half of Parkland’s annual budget.

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Dallas will spray for mosquitoes tonight in eight different neighborhoods, after an increase in the number of mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus.

Torax Medical Inc.

Millions of Americans know the symptoms: a burning feeling in the chest, an acidic aftertaste, a sore throat. Acid Reflux, or gastro esophageal reflux, can typically be managed with over the counter pills or prescription medicine. But for some people, that’s not enough. Now, there's a new device called the LINX that’s helping some people in North Texas put away the pills by putting on a bracelet.

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City of Dallas mosquito-spraying trucks will be out in half a dozen neighborhoods tonight and tomorrow night, weather permitting.

You can treat diabetes, but you have to know you have it. About a quarter of Texas adults have diabetes, but many are never diagnosed. The Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance and the YMCA of are sponsoring “Seniors Tell Diabetes Not Me” week and are hosting several free diabetes prevention awareness events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area between June 17th and June 22nd.

Dallas-based Susan G. Komen for the Cure named a new CEO today. Founder and CEO Nancy Brinker had announced in August she would step aside for a new role with the world's largest breast cancer charity.

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More than 25 million people – nearly a third of them children -  are known to have asthma. The lung disease causes recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing – all of which can be more troublesome on ozone alert days in summer. Dr. Stephen Mueller with Methodist Charlton Medical Center explains why in this week’s edition of Vital Signs.

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A Fort Worth woman in her 40’s has developed Tarrant County’s first case of West Nile virus this season.   It’s also the first case reported in North Texas.

Tarrant County Public Health says she has the milder form, not the neuroinvasive form that more often leads to long-term illness, paralysis or death.

The diet world has a new golden child: green coffee extract.

A "miracle fat burner!" "One of the most important discoveries made" in weight loss science, the heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz said about the little pills — which are produced by grinding up raw, unroasted coffee, and then soaking the result in alcohol to pull out the antioxidants.

Courtesy of Cindy Johnson

One of the toughest things about dealing with depression can be finding the right medication. It can take months, even years. As part of KERA’s Breakthroughs project, here’s a look at one woman’s struggle and the North Texas doctor who hopes to make the medication matching process less like trial and error.

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Before Angelina Jolie told the world about her decision to have a double mastectomy, you might not have heard of BRCA1 or BRCA2. These are two genes where mutations are known to increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Jolie’s health risk was raised because of a mutation of the BRCA1 gene.  

Scientists say we need to look beyond BRCA – to other genes that also increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. KERA’s Lauren Silverman talks with Linda Robinson, assistant director of the Cancer Genetics Program at UT Southwestern about the future of genetic testing for breast cancer. 

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Phony falls in basketball just got serious. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has teamed up with biomechanics experts at Southern Methodist University to study "flopping" -- when a player deliberately falls to deceive referees into thinking there's been a foul. 

Maybe we shouldn't be mimicking our caveman ancestors. The Scientific American published a piece raising questions about the evidence behind the "Paleo" diet. The diet, which is popular among the CrossFit crowd, consists of mostly meat, nuts, fruits and vegetables -- no dairy or processed grains.

BJ Austin / KERA News

A technology with roots in World War II is now enabling amputees to program their prosthetic hands.  It’s RFID, radio frequency identification. 

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