Vital Signs | KERA News

Vital Signs

Vital Signs is a weekly consumer health chat featuring leading North Texas medical figures. Hosted by Sam Baker, topics range from flu to skin cancer to exactly what a New Year’s cocktail does to your body.

Listen every Monday at 8:22 a.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.

Ways to Connect

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Hospital stays can be stressful for anyone. Worse, though, for about seven million patients each year who suffer from delirium. It’s a sudden state of confusion that can last from hours to days and well after release.

Megan Wheeler, an adult clinical nurse specialist, has been involved in Baylor Scott White Health’s research on preventing delirium in elderly patients. 

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About 17,000 people are diagnosed with cancer that began in or next to the brain every year in the United States. These are called primary brain cancers.

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In our series about real life health, Vital Signs, another look at delayed cord clamping.

Many doctors believe waiting as long as two or three minutes before cutting the umbilical cord provides a newborn with extra blood that can prevent iron deficiency.  But a new study of four year olds who had delayed cord clamping found a slight improvement in boys of social and motor skills.  

KERA’s Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Sheri Puffer, an OB-GYN with Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital.

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There have been at least two dozen deaths from recent flash flooding in Texas.

Some of those helping state teams search for flood victims work in UT-Southwestern’s emergency medicine department.

West Nile Virus Came To Texas Early This Year

Jun 1, 2015
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West Nile Virus season usually shows up in Texas in June, but it came early this year. About two weeks ago, Mesquite had the first mosquito trap in Texas this year to test positive for West Nile. Harris County reported the state’s first human case around the same time.

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Last week's segment of our consumer health series, Vital Signs, told you about fragility fractures, and how they often can be a first sign of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. Your diet can boost good bone health. 

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In our consumer health series, Vital Signs: Fragility fractures. Fall from a standing height or less and your body should be able to withstand it without fracturing a bone. When injury does occur, it may mean you have osteoporosis.

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A large number of patients at Dallas County’s Parkland Hospital System have Type 2 Diabetes. Unlike Type 1, Type 2 Diabetes doesn’t require insulin injections – at least not right away – but it’s just as serious if it’s not managed properly.

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The initial symptoms suggest just about anything, but they may be signs of an inflammatory disease many don’t know about. Sarcoidosis can affect multiple organs – most often lungs and lymph glands.

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Researchers are finding work stress can contribute to physical and mental health problems.

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Tylenol and other products containing acetaminophen are prescribed often for pain relief. But there’s been ongoing debate about whether it does anything for lower back pain. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal says no.

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The National Kidney Foundation says they send a half-million people to emergency rooms each year because of kidney stones - hard objects made from chemicals in the urine. They’re very small, but at a couple of centimeters or more, kidney stones can be quite painful. Dr. R. Carrington Mason, a urologist with Methodist Health System, explains what causes the pain.

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If you don’t manage it carefully, diabetes can lead to several complications, including damage to the eyes. The most common form is also is one of the leading causes of blindness among adults in the U-S.

In our consumer health series, Vital Signs, Dr. Noel Santini, chief of Adult Medicine for Parkland Hospital’s Community Medicine Division, explains why regular screenings are key to dealing with diabetic retinopathy.

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A new study suggests a vegetarian diet, or one based on vegetables and fish, could lower your chances of getting colon cancer. The study focused on 77,000 Seventh-Day Adventists. Dr. Ronney Stadler, a colorectal surgeon with Baylor Medical Center in Irving, explains for KERA's consumer health series, Vital Signs. 

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Beginning late 2015, North Texas cancer patients won’t have to leave town to get proton beam therapy. It’s an advanced form of radiation treatment using energized particles or protons to destroy cancerous cells.

Dr. Andrew Lee is medical director of The Texas Center for Proton Therapy. He launched a similar operation at M-D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. Lee talked about proton therapy for our consumer health series Vital Signs.

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Google "coconut oil" and you’ll see this popular product touted for a range of uses: from cooking to its use as a health food to treat a variety of illnesses. But does coconut oil live up to those claims? 

Sharon Cox, a dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, talks about this in our consumer health series, Vital Signs.

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A study released in the journal Circulation found young and middle-aged women can have a harder time in various ways recovering from a heart attack than men. The study also found the poorer recovery was due in part to greater stress among women.

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In this edition of our consumer health series, Vital Signs - the most aggressive form of breast cancer.

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Our consumer health series, Vital Signs, recently identified six foods to help maintain good cholesterol levels. The suggestions are good for anyone to follow, but  a new report from the advisory committee behind the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines says healthy adults no longer have to worry so much about cholesterol.

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High cholesterol is one of the leading risk factors contributing to heart disease, heart attack or stroke, but your diet can help prevent that.

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It’s been recommended for some time that a low-dose aspirin a day helps to avoid heart attack and stroke. But a study out last month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests some people take the drug "inappropriately."

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Cancer of the pancreas – an organ that lies behind the lower part of your stomach - accounts for only two percent of cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year. But it’s the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in this country. 

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The World Health Organization lists glaucoma as the second leading cause of blindness in the world. It’s estimated more than two million Americans have the disease, but only half know it. No one’s certain exactly what causes the damage to the optic nerve that results in glaucoma, but in this edition of KERA's consumer health series, Vital Signs, Dr. Roger Velasquez, an opthalmologist with Parkland Hospital System in Dallas says there are certain risk factors to watch out for.

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Amid high flu activity in North Texas, health officials also are tracking respiratory syncytial (sinSISHuhl) virus. In this edition of KERA's consumer health series Vital Signs, Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, explains why he calls RSV “probably the most important respiratory virus that most people have never heard of.”

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Flu activity remains high in North Texas.  Dallas County has reported five flu-related deaths this season. There have been two in Tarrant County.

With Texas and 45 other states reporting widespread flu activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a flu epidemic. Part of the blame goes to the current flu vaccine. It's less effective against Influenza A or H3N2 - the more severe strain causing the majority of cases.

However, Dr. Glenn Hardesty says get the shot, if you haven’t already. The emergency room physician at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital talked about the vaccine and the flu season in this edition of KERA’s consumer health series, Vital Signs. 

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Dr. Daralie Wilkerson, a podiatrist at Parkland Hospital says we don't stop to think about the long hours we spend on our feet during our normal daily routine - not to mention all those activities over the holidays like shopping, parties and extra cooking. Skin problems from winter weather don't help either.

Dr. Willkerson shares some tip to better care for your feet in this edition of Vital Signs. She begins with the crucial step of choosing the right shoe.

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No one’s sure why. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found annual rates of shingles have been on the rise in the U-S. It’s a highly uncomfortable disease that strikes adults who’ve already had chickenpox.

Dr. Brian Jones, a family health physician with Methodist Family Health Center in Cedar Hill, talked about shingles in this edition of Vital Signs.

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A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found women ages 40 to 59 have the highest rate of depression of any group based on age or gender.

Dr. Quazi Imam is medical director of the Texas Health Behavioral Health Center at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. He talked about some of factors behind the findings in this edition of Vital Signs.

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Researchers have found people diagnosed with diabetes in their 50s are significantly more likely than others to suffer mental decline by their 70s.

In this week’s Vital Signs, Dr. Angela Bentle, a geriatrics and internal medicine specialist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, explains why this seems to occur in middle age than with younger people.

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A recent survey for the American Heart Association found 40 percent of more than 5,100 calls to poison centers for "energy drink exposure" involved children under the age of six. Consuming the drinks at that age can have serious consequences. 

In this edition of Vital Signs, Mike Yudizky, Public Health Education Manager of the North Texas Poison Center, says the problem is the high amount of caffeine.

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