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. 

Shutterstock

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.

Shutterstock

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:

12_Tribes / shutterstock.com

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.

As states gear up for the Affordable Care Act, they're trying to figure out if there will be enough providers of health care to meet demand from the newly insured.

California is one of 15 states expected to consider legislation this year that would give advanced practice nurses more authority to care for patients without a doctor's supervision.

Tina Clark is a nurse practitioner at Glide Health Services, a clinic in San Francisco's Tenderloin district, a low-income section of the city.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released data for the first time comparing average hospital charges for the 100 most common Medicare claims. A Washington Post analysis of the 10 most common medical procedures showed hospitals in Texas routinely had higher prices than the rest of the country.

House Committee on Education / flickr.com

The Texas House has passed a measure that would create a pilot program offering concussion insurance for parents of public high school students in football and girl’s soccer.

Democrat Eddie Lucio of Brownsville says the Texas Education Agency and the UIL, University Interscholastic League would choose participating schools and run the pilot program.

Lucio says the voluntary insurance would cost about $5 and could pay off in the long run. 

Lauren Silverman

Former Dallas Cowboy Daryl Johnston is using his fame shine a light on brain injuries in sports. He says all athletes should get a baseline assessment test before playing sports, and is working with the Center for BrainHealth in Dallas to promote awareness. 

Courtesy of Taylor Roth

Two years ago, a 21-year-old Baylor student from Plano learned she had a brain tumor. Taylor Roth thought she had only a year to live. But new technology at UT Southwestern showed her prognoses was actually much better. She not only returned to school, but made it all the way to TV’s Jeopardy!

Maridav / Shutterstock

After finding mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus earlier than usual in at least two cities, Dallas County officials have begun urging outdoor use of mosquito repellent containing DEET. But what is DEET? And is there any reason to be concerned about using it any time we’re outdoors? Some answers in this edition of Vital Signs from David Jefferson, Tarrant County’s Environmental Health Manager.

Some North Texas health care companies are starting to practice what they preach. Baylor Health Care - known for its exceptional cancer treatment programs – now screens job seekers for nicotine use. If applicants applying online respond that they are smokers, they are re-directed to resources to help them stop smoking before they can reapply. As Susan Ladika reports for Workforce, Baylor joins the 4 percent of companies that follow a policy to not hire nicotine users. In Texas, 18.5% of the adult population are current cigarette smokers. Across all states, the prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults ranges from 9.3% to 26.5%. In Texas, 17.4% of high school students smoke.

Mutations on a single gene appear to increase the risk for both an unusual sleep disorder and migraines, a team reports in Science Translational Medicine.

The finding could help explain the links between sleep problems and migraines. It also should make it easier to find new drugs to treat migraines, researchers say.

And for one member of the research team, Emily Bates, the discovery represents a personal victory.

Dallas Morning News

If you rode a wagon down what is now Oak Lawn in April of 1913, you would have passed four large canvas tents. There, beneath the shade of the oak trees, what looked like a campsite was actually the first medical clinic for babies in North Texas, and the precursor to Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. 

Shutterstock

Teachers telling students to listen up at Winfree Academy Charter Schools might have to shout tomorrow. Two dozen students at the school are participating in an experiment to illustrate the dangers of hearing loss in teens due to loud sound exposure without hearing protection. For one full day, these high school students will re-create what it is like to experience hearing loss. 

ForestPath / shutterstock.com

Be it professional or personal, we spend a lot time in front of computer screens. Too much time can lead to problems. In this edition of Vital Signs, computer vision syndrome or CVS. At least half of us using computers have experienced some form of it – just ask Dr. Edward Mendelson of UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Scientists have discovered what may be an important new risk factor for heart disease. And here's the surprising twist: The troublesome substance seems to be a waste product left behind by bacteria in our guts as they help us digest lecithin — a substance plentiful in red meat, eggs, liver and certain other foods.

Doctors say the research further illustrates the complicated relationship we have with the microbes living inside us, and could lead to new ways to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Bolstered by a recent study that found doctors performing hysterectomies performed using a pricey robot didn't produce better results for patients than ordinary — and cheaper — procedures, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently threw down a latex gauntlet against the use of robots.

kozirsky / shutterstock.com

A recently published study suggests controlling or preventing risk factors like hypertension may limit or delay brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of age-related neurological deterioration. Dr. Karen Rodrigue of the UT Dallas Center for Vital Longevity talked about this in this edition of Vital Signs. She said the medical profession’s been exploring the idea of vascular dementia for decades.

Shutterstock

The marathon bombing in Boston and the explosion in the town of West, Texas may seem completely unrelated. But the injuries they cause are remarkably similar. 

Kazoka / shutterstock.com

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine points to a drop in heart disease for people on the Mediterranean Diet. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Amit Khera, professor of cardiology and director of UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Preventive Cardiology Program, explained why the study’s significant.

Boston hospitals always staff up their emergency rooms on Marathon Day to care for runners with cramps, dehydration and the occasional heart attack.

But Monday, those hospitals suddenly found themselves with more than 100 traumatized patients — many of them with the kinds of injuries seen more often on a battlefield than a marathon.

Like most big-city hospitals these days, Tufts Medical Center runs regular disaster drills, featuring simulated patients smeared with fake blood.

rp4prez2008 / (cc) flickr

Mosquitoes with West Nile Virus have arrived earlier than ever before in North Texas. Last week, several traps in Richardson had mosquitoes that tested positive for the virus – last year West Nile didn’t appear until May. 

Note: We've updated the headline on this post for the sake of clarity. To be clear, it's the apple and pear tree blossoms that get sprayed with antibiotics, not the fruit itself.

Apples and especially pears are vulnerable to a nasty bacterial infection called fire blight that, left unchecked, can spread quickly, killing fruit trees and sometimes devastating whole orchards.

Gena Breedlove

It isn’t only NFL superstars who get concussions. It’s high school basketball players, cheerleaders, soccer players, even softball players. More than 300,000 high school students were diagnosed with concussions last year.Still, there’s no gold standard for evaluating or treating concussions in young athletes. This weekend, a group of coaches, parents, patients and doctors are getting together at UT Arlington for a conference on concussions and youth safety.

The Da Vinci surgical robot is now a part of the Texas Health Denton team -- helping remove patients' gallbladders through a small incision right below the navel. There are thousands of da Vinci systems world-wide, and they aren't cheap. The machines cost over one million each, with an additional cost for annual maintenance. Still, the machines give surgeons an enhanced range of motion and ultimately leave the patient with minimal scarring.

Real CG Animation Studios / Shutterstock

Just last week President Obama announced a pledge of $100 million to a federal brain mapping initiative. It will hopefully zero in on improving care for those with PTSD, traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. John Hart Jr. is the Medical Science Director at the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas, Dallas. His team is working on links between concussion and depression as well as better therapy for veterans with PTSD. In this week’s “Vital Signs,” Dr. Hart weighs in on the mapping program and what it means for patients everywhere.

mikeledray / shutterstock.com

It’s estimated more than 159-thousand people will die of lung cancer in 2013. The National Lung Cancer Partnership has a announced a new goal to double the five-year survival rate of the disease by 2022. It’s currently 16 percent. Dr. Joan Schiller, chief of the Hematology and Oncology Department of  UT Southwestern Medical Center, is also President of the Partnership. In this week’s “Vital Signs”, Dr. Schiller explained why survival rates are so low.

Nathan Reading / flickr.com

Texas is among states involved in a Department of Agriculture recall of chicken quesadillas and other frozen meals from Rich Products of Buffalo, New York.

Pages