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. 

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Dallas, Tarrant and Denton counties recently confirmed their first human cases of West Nile Virus. Dr. Cedric Spak says most people bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile will never know it. But in this KERA Health Checkup, the infectious disease specialist said West Nile is a potentially serious disease of two variations.

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Under the federal health care law, Texas will receive the most health insurance rebates of any state. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies that spend less than 80 percent of premiums on actual health care to rebate customers.

Courtney Collins / KERA

Health Department officials worry a case of West Nile virus this early in the season could mean more to come. One survivor hopes citizens will take this threat seriously.

Parkland Hospital says it will not ask for a tax increase next year. That’s in spite of millions of dollars the hospital must spend after failing a series of critical federal inspections.

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The U.S. Supreme Court will decide the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act this week.  It might not be that affordable for some.

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Study results being released today in 'Circulation' magazine confirm what KERA reported two years ago- that repeated chest compressions have dramatically improved the survival rate for cardiac arrest patients.

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For those suffering from osteoarthritis - a disease resulting from wear and tear on joints - a joint replacement is sometimes needed after all other attempts at pain relief have failed. But a successful replacement depends in part on a proper fit of the implant to the bone. Dr. Bruce Bollinger is an orthopedic surgeon in Fort Worth, and one of two doctors in Texas trained in a recently FDA approved method of custom-fitting knee implants to patients. 

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It’s a painful, often limiting disease resulting from wear and tear on joints. Osteoarthritis in some form will affect one in two Americans in their lifetime. About 27-million adults have it now. In a KERA Health Checkup, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bruce Bollinger talks about treatments and describes osteoarthritis.

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A hotel near DFW Airport is shut down after a case of Legionnaire’s Disease. It’s a bacteria-caused illness with symptoms similar to pneumonia.

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The Supreme Court will rule this month on the federal health care law – as early as this week. BJ Austin talked with health care policy expert Anne Dunkelberg and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

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It’s the second most common cause of missed work in this country after back pain. About 30 million or more people in America suffer from migraine – often in the form of debilitating headaches. But in a KERA Health Checkup, Deborah Friedman of UT Southwestern Medical Center said the types of migraine can vary.

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It contributes greatly to a successful pregnancy, but not all moms-to-be receive prenatal care. Those who do sometimes overlook common warning signs during pregnancy. Dr. Wayne Farley is Medical Director of the Advanced Maternal and Newborn Institute at Medical City in Dallas. In a Health Checkup, Dr. Farley described some of those.

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Your medicine chest may contain everything from actual medicine to personal grooming items. But in this KERA Health Checkup, some ideas for what should be in the medicine chest from Dr. Shaun Murphy, a general practitioner and chairman of Dallas Medical Specialists. He told Sam Baker the most important item is a list of your prescription medications.

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Faced with a medical problem, many people opt for the emergency room or they contact their primary physician. But in today’s Health Checkup, we look at when to use a third option: urgent care centers. Sam Baker talked with Dr. Sarah Holder, medical director of the Quick Care Clinic at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas. 

Most surgeries involve a doctor’s hand working inside the body. But each year more doctors and patients are opting for a robotics-assisted approach. There’s more precision and greater visibility for doctors with 3-D imaging, plus less scarring and faster recovery for patients.  But the approach has its critics.

Scientists say there’s enough wasted energy in Texas to power our lights for centuries. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports on SMU researchers and a business who are turning waste heat from oil and gas wells into electricity.

A plant that grows quickly and cheaply in Texas may become an alternative to building materials that are non-biodegradable, and may someday change the way businesses like Brown's Boat Repair in Mesquite operate. 

Today we continue in the spirit of Earth Day with the first in a series of stories, “Going Green: The Practical Payoffs." We’re taking you to the UT Arlington campus where a biomedical engineering student has come up with a way to get a special kind of bacteria to eat food waste. The process creates energy in an environmentally-friendly, money-saving way. KERA’s BJ Austin says the young inventor hopes to take his microbial fuel cell from the lab to the workplace.

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State health officials plan to roll out the Texas Women’s Health Program November 1. KERA’s BJ Austin says it will continue family planning services for low income women without any federal funds.

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Typically, the KERA Health Checkup looks at subjects about maintaining your health. But in connection with National Healthcare Decisions Day, we look at advance planning for terminal illness. Sam Baker talked with Dr. Robert Fine of Baylor Medical Center about advance directives.

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It’s the fourth leading cause of death in the country behind heart disease, chronic lung disease and cancer. Stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. It’s sometimes called a brain attack, but stroke is often preventable. In this KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Dion Graybeal. He’s Medical Director of the Stroke Program at Baylor Medical Center.

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About 150,000 people develop colon or colorectal cancer each year. For about one in five, the disease is hereditary. So your family’s history with colon cancer is vital information when screening for the disease. In our KERA Health Checkup, Dr. Samir Gupta of U.T. Southwestern Medical Center tells Sam Baker your family history determines what type of screening you should have – and when.

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The state’s Health and Human Services Commission says it plans to present a funding option for the Women’s Health Program to the Legislative Budget Board soon. KERA’s BJ Austin says that would be good news at Parkland Hospital, where some 9,000 woman are enrolled in the program at risk of being eliminated.

Parkland Hospital’s income is dropping while expenses are rising. KERA’s BJ Austin reports.

The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on health care reform could affect all Texans, including the nearly six million without health insurance. Local health care experts say the required coverage for everyone could make people healthier, but clog waiting rooms. And it could ultimately change the way health care is paid-for and delivered.

Courtney Collins / KERA

Texasis one of 26 states fighting the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care legislation at the Supreme Court where hearings began Monday. About 25 percent of the Texas population is uninsured, that’s close to six million. KERA’s Courtney Collins spoke to people at a Dallas hospital and bookstore about how mandated health coverage would impact them.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Mar 26, 2012
Svein Halvor Halvorsen / (cc) flickr

Be aware that prolonged times of sitting still while traveling or while at the office can be dangerous. Blood clots can form in deep veins of the arms and legs, torso or pelvis, or the neck. In this KERA Health Checkup, Dr. Ana Lorenzo of Vein Care Solutions tells Sam Baker deep vein thrombosis or DVT can be a serious condition.

Nutrition & Children

Mar 19, 2012
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March as National Nutrition Month is being used to raise awareness about healthier eating. In our KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talked with Meridan Zerner, a registered dietitian with Cooper Aerobics, about nutrition and children. She said many kids don’t always get the nutrients they need despite their parents’ efforts.

Planned Parenthood clinics across the state have a little more time before the must turn away patients in the state’s Women’s Health Program. KERA’s BJ Austin says funding was to be cut Wednesday, but new regulations issued over the weekend allow patients to be seen through April 30.

Coming of Age ... Immunizations

Mar 12, 2012
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Under a change to Texas law, adults can now track their immunizations through a state registry database that was formerly only available for children. But once adolescents turn 18 their records are purged unless they request otherwise. Texas doctors are worried about the loss of those records.

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