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. 

Courtney Collins / KERA News

Find a new doctor or scrounge up the money to pay for care -- that’s the choice for thousands of low-income Texas women. Jackie Jones is one of them. And even though the courts have upheld a decision to exclude Planned Parenthood from the state's Women’s Health Program, she says she’s sticking with her doctor, no matter what.

Courtesy Dr. Paul Grayburn

It almost sounds like a videogame. Inject a patient with tiny bubbles and use ultrasound waves to burst them open when they float to the right spot. While the term “microbubbles” may sound more whimsical than medical, a Dallas doctor is a national pioneer in using them to fight diabetes. And it's a technology that was born on the battlefield.

courtesy Dr. Paul Grayburn

Since microbubbles are smaller than half the size of a red blood cell, seeing them with the naked eye isn’t an option. But Dr. Jonathan Lindner was able to capture and enhance the image of microbubbles moving through capillaries in the body.

Can A Garbled Text Mean Stroke?

Jan 14, 2013

You probably get text messages often with misspellings and abbreviations.  But doctors say mistakes in texting  sometimes suggest a problem more serious than bad grammar.  

4 Good Ways To Get Rid Of Unused Medication

Jan 7, 2013
Thirteen Of Clubs / Flickr.com

Disposing of unused prescription drugs the wrong way can have serious consequences. Jeena Connor, Director of Pharmacy Services at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, explains in this segment of Vital Signs.

Mike Gifford / Flickr

As we prepare to pop the cork on champagne to welcome the New Year, Bryan Wasson, an internal medicine specialist at Baylor Medical Center in Irving, breaks down the effect of alcohol on the body.

North Texas has been more worried about West Nile virus lately -- with at least 35 deaths this year and hundreds of people sickened. But the granddaddy of mosquito-borne illnesses is still malaria, and NPR's Adam Cole explores how it spreads and how doctors have responded in this fun animated video. (Gin and tonic, anyone?)

A recent study found even light to moderate smoking (one to 12 cigarettes a day) can increase the risk in women of sudden cardiac death. SCD causes about 325,000 adult deaths in the U.S., and is  responsible for half of all heart disease deaths. In this segment of Vital Signs, Dr. Amir Choudhry, a cardiologist with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, explains sudden cardiac death.

'Think' Like A Vegan

Dec 13, 2012

Two percent of Americans survive without meat or dairy products, according to a Gallup poll from July. Terry Romero, author of "Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet," joins Krys Boyd at 1 p.m. for 'Think's first in-depth look at veganism. This point-counterpoint features the opinions of two scientists who debate the lifestyle and health implications of going vegan.

5 Key Questions In The Race Against Flu

Dec 12, 2012
Lance McCord / Flickr.com

Health officials say get a flu shot if you haven’t done so. The virus arrived early, hitting Texas and four other southern states harder than other regions. In this segment of Vital Signs, Dr. Shantala Samart, an infectious disease specialist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, talks about the flu strains being seen in Texas and why the virus showed up early.

CDC

It’s the season when doctors and health officials urge you to get a flu shot. But not everyone can.

Hidden Calories In Alcoholic Drinks

Dec 3, 2012
i be GINZ / Flickr.com

Holiday meals and snacks pack on the pounds if you’re not careful, but so can drinking. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Bradley Jones with Baylor Medical Center Irving tells how and why alcohol can add to your waistline.

Blood Donations: The Gift That Keeps Giving

Nov 26, 2012
Carter Blood Care

During the holidays when thoughts turn to gift giving, organizations like American Red Cross and Carter Blood Care tend to see fewer donations. Dr. Lesley Kresie, Carter's medical director of laboratory services, explains why in this week’s segment of “Vital Signs.”

Six Facts About How Blood Donations Are Used:

Whole blood, kept cool in refrigerators, can be transfused for 21 days after the donation.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Scientists studying cancer cells in humans commonly transplant them to grow human tumors in mice. It’s called a xenograft.  Problem is the tumors don’t always grow in mice as they would in patients. But scientists at U-T Southwestern Medical Center have developed a xenograft model that consistently works in the study of skin cancer. Dr. Sean Morrison authored a study on this subject and talks about it in this week’s edition of KERA's Vital Signs.

Some time ago, a man wearing jeans, cowboy boots and a hoodie drove a dirty Ford Explorer into a carwash in Fort Worth, Texas. As soon as the car came back clean, he got it filthy again, and drove to the next carwash. He did this with every single full-service carwash in town.

The man wasn't suffering from a strange mental disorder; Patrick Kinkade was a criminologist conducting an experiment.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

PART 2 OF A KERA NEWS SERIES: Imagine heading into surgery. Instead of a doctor’s soothing voice, you hear the whirs and beeps of R2D2. OK, so Star Wars droids aren’t holding the scalpel, but robotic techniques are radically changing the world of medicine. And North Texas hospitals are harnessing the power of robots.

stilldavid / flickr.com

Scrub nurses straight out of The Jetsons, telecommuting surgeons and other medical advances driven by robotic technology -- here's what's on the horizon for robotic surgery.

BJ Austin / KERA News

A NEW KERA NEWS SERIES: Proton beam ray-guns were the stuff of scientists and sci-fi writers in the '50s. But, they never left the lab or the movies. Later, President Reagan revived the idea in his "Star Wars" missile defense initiative. Still, no one really harnessed this atomic age technology until doctors deployed it and made proton therapy a battlefield breakthrough in the war on cancer.

ProCure Proton Therapy Centers

Two North Texas proton therapy centers are in the planning stages over the next few years -- one at UT Southwestern in Dallas and a second in Las Colinas, which is a joint effort of Baylor Health Enterprises, Texas Oncology and McKesson Specialty Health Network.

So what sets proton therapy apart? And how are the North Texas centers pushing the technology envelope? Two doctors, Scott Cheek of the Las Colinas project and Timothy Solberg of UT Southwestern, point out five key factors:

The population explosion in North Texas’ has brought a growing number of children without health insurance, and some of the counties affected come as a surprise.

Medical City

An alternative for patients who can’t survive open heart surgery replaces the aortic valve without opening the chest or heart. Medical City recently became the first in the country to perform the procedure, just days after it received FDA approval. 

Texas put its new, state-funded Women’s Health Program on hold today, just hours before the retooled program was set to launch. And that means Planned Parenthood will continue getting state money to provide health care to women -- at least for the moment.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

At the annual meeting for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in Dallas, the last thing you expect to see is Mardi gras beads.

But there they are, each color signifying something; like a cancer diagnosis or a preventative surgery. Some women wear one strand; others wear several.

Most of the women here have a mutation in the gene labeled BRCA1 or BRCA2. That means a shockingly high lifetime risk for both breast and ovarian cancer.

Lyndsay / KERA News

I’m 30 years old and I’m on an Aspirin regimen. I have to get a colonoscopy, endometrial biopsy, CA-125 blood test, several ultrasounds and a full skin check pretty much every year.

kcheakthandwellness.com

When you go in for a mammogram, you now have a choice to make. Approved last year by the Food and Drug Administration, a 3-D mammogram is touted as a more accurate check for breast cancer. But it’s also more expensive. In a KERA Health Checkup, Dr. Jim Schroeder, a radiologist at Lake Pointe Breast Center in Rockwall, compares the two choices – beginning with the usual mammogram.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the U.S. The drug tPA has been pretty effective at dissolving blood clots that can lead to stroke. But that's only if given within three hours and if the clot isn’t large. The Food and Drug Administration this year approved two mechanical devices doctors can use beyond the three hour window to remove large clots from the brain. In a KERA Health Checkup, Dr.

The deadliest West Nile season in North Texas is coming to an end. In Tarrant County, environmental health manager David Jefferson says the numbers of human cases and infected mosquitoes have dropped significantly.

Two more West Nile deaths are reported in North Texas.

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">shutterstock.com</a>

You might think your home is safe for a small child. But you’d be surprised at the dangers to children lurking inside. 

BJ Austin / KERA News

The most common chronic childhood disease is almost invisible. You don’t see it like the chicken pox, or hear it like a sneeze. It’s tooth decay.

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