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.

Charts at UNT Health Science Center's Human Movement Performance Lab.
Credit Stephanie Kuo / 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

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. 

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.

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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.

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