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. 

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.

rp4prez2008 / (cc) flickr

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. 

We already know that black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than their white peers, but a new study could explain why. Research shows one in five black women with breast cancer have a genetic mutation tied to the disease.

Lauren Silverman

There is a serious doctor shortage in Texas. Nationwide, the state ranks near the bottom when it comes to doctor-patient ratios, and that’s only expected to get worse as more people gain access to insurance with the Affordable Care Act. For decades, nurse practitioners have argued they can help fill the gaps in primary care – if only there were fewer restrictions. Now, legislation giving nurses more autonomy has been signed into law.

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Seven percent of school-age kids have attention deficient/hyperactivity disorder. And last week, the American Psychiatric Association's Manual of Mental Disorders broadened the criteria for ADHD. The changes will better describe the course of symptoms over a lifetime. In this week’s Vital Signs, KERA’s Sam Baker talks with Dr. James Norcross, a psychiatrist with UT Southwestern Medical Center.

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Dallas County Health officials are investigating a suspected case of tuberculosis at Thomas Edison Middle Learning Center.  County Health director Zach Thompson says a hospital notified officials of the suspected case in a student.

Sanofil Pasteur / flickr.com

State health officials are warning consumers not to eat Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend of frozen mixed berries. They may be contaminated with hepatitis A.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Souce: Dartmouth Atlas Project at The Dartmouth Institute For Health Policy And Clinical Practices.

When you’re leaving the hospital, the last thing you want to think about is being readmitted in a couple weeks. The odds of that happening are surprisingly high. Starting in October, as part of the Affordable Care Act, more than 2,000 hospitals will be penalized for high readmission rates. Two hospitals in North Texas are trying to tackle the problem of high readmissions, with technology.

Scott Camazine/Phototake, Alan Boyde/Visuals Unlimited, WebMD.com

It’s estimated about one in two women over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis – or low bone density. But it’s not just an older woman’s disease. About one in four men over 50 will meet the same fate. And the disease isn’t limited to older people. KERA’s Sam Baker talked with Dr. Joseph Borrelli of Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital about how osteoporosis works in this edition of Vital Signs.

For years, Texas ranked last in the nation for spending on mental health care. According to a consortium of sheriffs from across the state, the lack of spending led to an unprecedented number of people with mental illness ill in jails, instead of treatment facilities. Now, lawmakers have allocated $259 million to mental health care.

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Recent reports of a so-called "sex superbug" - a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea - reaching the U.S. turned out to be false. The H041 strain hasn’t been detected since a case in Japan several years ago. But even though gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics, the health community remains concerned about the threat of drug-resistant strains of the sexually transmitted disease. Dr. Cedric Spak, with North Texas Infectious Diseases Consultants and Baylor Medical Center Dallas, explains why in this week’s edition of Vital Signs.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

North Texas women are grateful Angelina Jolie shone a light on genetic cancer risk and now they hope local ladies will tap into that knowledge.

The Dallas area chapter of the group FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) meets tonight a 6 p.m. at Medical City in Suite A100. The meeting is completely open, so anyone with questions is encouraged to attend.

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Researchers have known that having diabetes raises a person's risk of dying, but now there is a simple tool to calculate which diabetic patients are at the greatest risk.

Vital Art and Science Incorporated

You can use your iPhone to play games, find restaurants, even friends. Now, some people in North Texas are using their iPhones to prevent blindness.

mfrissen / Flickr

North Texas hospitals are already doing the kind of genetic testing Angelina Jolie is bringing to light in a very personal New York Times editorial.

Jolie revealed that she got a double mastectomy earlier this year as a preventative measure. She has a mutation in her BRCA1 gene that makes her breast cancer risk over 80 percent and her chance of ovarian cancer about 50/50.

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May 12th through May 18th is National Women’s Health Week. And it’s a good time to clarify how the Affordable Care Act impacts women.

BJ Austin / KERA News

The number of wounded amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan prompted the Pentagon to do the first sweeping overhaul of prosthetics since the 1940’s. And, it’s not only wounded veterans who are benefiting. A  “Battlefield Breakthrough” is making it possible for one  young North Texan to conquer dental school with a state-of-the-art prosthetic arm.

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Who says you can’t have fun and a get a mammogram? This week is National Women’s Health Week, and you can celebrate here in North Texas a few ways:

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When medication fails to bring relief to people with chronic sinusitis, the alternative to open the flow of mucus is usually surgery. The traditional type calls for removing bone and tissue to clear sinuses. But there’s also the option of balloon sinuplasty. It’s similar to angioplasty used to open arteries. Dr. Kenny Iloabachie talked about the procedure with KERA’s Sam Baker in this edition of Vital Signs.

According to Dallas Police, a man called this morning saying he wanted to harm himself. As a precaution, the campus of Southern Methodist University and Stonewall Jackson Elementary briefly went on lockdown. Officers took the man into custody and no one was harmed. Here's a reminder of mental health resources both on, and off campus.

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