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 News.

Ways to Connect

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You’re short of breath after a flight of stairs or other daily activities. It might be fatigue, lack of exercise – or maybe COPD.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a group name for lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema that block airflow and make breathing difficult. It’s also a condition the Affordable Care Act’s keeping closer tabs on beginning next month. 

In this edition of Vital Signs, Tom Kallstrom, CEO of the American Association for Respiratory Care, explains more about COPD.

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Despite prenatal care, around five percent of women will develop diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a temporary, but potentially serious problem.  

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Brian Casey, an obstetrician with Parkland Hospital, explains gestational diabetes is part of the physiology of pregnancy.

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Three important words when taking medication: Read the label.  Not only for how much to take or when, but also the warnings about what you can eat or drink. Failure to follow that advice can make the drug less effective and cause other physical problems.  

In this edition of KERA's weekly consumer health series Vital Signs, David Adams, an ambulatory clinical staff pharmacist with Parkland Hospital, explained some of the most common food and drug interactions.

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What kids eat before school can greatly impact how they perform in the classroom.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Navin Hariprasad, a nutritionist and Operations Manager of Patient Food Services at Parkland Hospital, explains the difference a healthy breakfast and a balanced diet throughout the day can make.

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Not all products labeled as “gluten-free” or some variation of it were actually free of the protein that can cause life-threatening illness in millions of Americans.

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The Food and Drug Administration is issuing new recommendations about pregnant women and fish: Eat more of it. Most types are fine, save for a few. 

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Sheri Puffer, an OB-GYN at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, says the new recommendations eliminate a source of concern for pregnant women.

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Summer usually brings a peak in cases of hand, foot and mouth disease – a contagious, viral illness affecting mostly small children.

Dr. Barbara Durso is a pediatrician with Parkland Hospital System. In this edition of Vital Signs, she tells KERA’s Sam Baker most cases of hand, foot and mouth aren’t serious, but they can cause discomfort.

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In this edition of KERA's weekly consumer health series, Vital Signs – Peripheral artery disease. Studies say at least one out of five elderly people suffer from hardened arteries reducing blood flow to the limbs. Speaking with Sam Baker, Dr. Stephen Hohmann, a vascular surgeon with Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital, said peripheral artery disease can be painful, but you can avoid it.

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Of the five million people diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, as many as five percent were diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60. It’s called early-onset (or younger-onset) Alzheimer's. Dr. Bassem Elsawy, a geriatrics expert with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, explains in this edition of KERA’s weekly consumer health series, Vital Signs.

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In this edition of Vital Signs, treating depression in children and adolescents. A study at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas indicates cognitive behavioral therapy combined with medication can improve the long-term success of treatment. Dr. Betsy Kennard, who's with both institutions, is lead author of the study. 

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In this edition of Vital Signs, the rare occurrence of drowning after you’ve left the water. Dry drowning and wet or secondary drowning can be fatal if left unattended -- and the latter can go unnoticed for several hours before symptoms appear.

Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an emergency physician at Texas Health Arlington Hospital, explains.

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It’s natural to sweat more in summer, but also dangerous if you’re not careful. In this edition of KERA's consumer health series, Vital Signs, Dr. Alexander Eastman, Interim Medical Director of Trauma at Parkland Hospital,  explains how to guard against dehydration.

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A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism  by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center says a type of protein nerve cells use to communicate with each other may lead to a  possible treatment for the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. In this edition of KERA's weekly consumer health series, Vital Signs, Dr. Yihong Wan, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at UT Southwestern Medical Center and lead author of the study, explains more about orexins.

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Of the 30 million people using tanning beds each year, more than 2 million are teenagers.

That’s prompted the Food and Drug Administration to require warnings on tanning beds for minors not to use the devices.

Speaking to Sam Baker in this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Dornechia Carter, a dermatologist of Methodist Charlton Medical Center, explained the need for the warning.

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Americans consume a lot of salt. But a new study published in Pediatrics says many women who are pregnant or breast feeding aren’t getting enough iodine found in salt and other foods. In this segment of Vital Signs, Dr. Sheri Puffer of Texas Health Arlington Hospital explains what’s causing the deficiency and why iodine’s important.

Six Things To Remember About Juicing

Jun 2, 2014
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Maybe to lose weight or to boost nutrition, some turn to juicing of fresh fruits and vegetables. Sounds simple enough, but speaking with Sam Baker in this week’s Vital Signs, Navin Hariprasad, nutritionist and  Operations Manager of Patient Foodservices at Parkland Hospital, shares a few points to consider about juicing.

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Heart failure is the focus of this week’s Vital Signs -- the heart’s inability to effectively pump blood to the rest of the body, especially out of the lungs.

The Centers for Disease Control says about 5 million people in the U.S. have heart failure, and about half who develop it will die within five years of diagnosis.

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They’ve been linked to the death of a teenager in Frisco last year, and to dozens of recent overdoses in the Dallas area. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Brett Roth of the North Texas Poison Center discusses two forms of synthetic drugs, the N-bomb (251 NBOMe) and he begins with a synthetic marijuana called K-2 or Spice.

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Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an emergency physician at Texas Health Arlington Hospital, says there are far more risks from consuming alcohol, but there can be a few benefits from moderate drinking.

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Some may be bored consuming it the old fashioned way. For others, it’s a calorie-conscious move. But whatever the reason,  there’s been a reported rise again in cases of “smoking alcohol.”

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A recent study found one of every two people over 30 in the U-S has some form of gum disease. The high prevalence of it has prompted the American Academy of Periodontology to launch Love The Gums You’re With  – a campaign to stress the importance of caring for your gums. Dr. Patricia Blanton, a periodontist and Professor Emeritus a Baylor College of Dentistry, explains the risks of gum disease in this edition of Vital Signs.

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The Obama administration says about eight million people have signed up for the Affordable Care Act through online exchanges – not counting those who bought plans “off-exchange” through insurance carriers. That’s a lot of people who will need to choose a primary care physician.

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It’s a contagious viral lung infection that strikes nearly half of all children under two. Bronchiolitis can vary from mild cases similar to a common cold to severe cases needing hospitalization. The latter cases prompted Children’s Medical Center to take part in a two year program to improves its treatment. Dr.Vineeta Mittal, a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics with UT Southwestern Medical Center, explains in this edition of Vital Signs.

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Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have targeted another possible way to control high blood sugar for the 25 million Americans with Type 2 Diabetes. The discovery occurred amid research into people born without fat, and why such people develop health problems associated with fat such as diabetes.

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A new campaign is underway to educate parents, caregivers and educators about the early warning signs of communication disorders.

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A study published in February of 90,000 women over 25 questions the value of mammography in detecting breast cancer. Among the findings:

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It can range from a dull, constant ache to acute pain that can last from a few days to a few weeks.  About eight in ten people, at some point in their lives, will experience some form of back pain.

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Knowing your family history can alert a doctor to potential problems like heart disease, for instance. But getting that information sometimes requires an extra step: genetic testing. In this week’s Vital Signs, Sam Baker talks with Sheryl Walker, a genetic counselor with Baylor Health Care’s Inherited Cardiovascular Disease Clinic.

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Stroke has a large negative impact on society, with women disproportionately affected. An estimated 6.8 million people in the United States are living after having had a stroke, including 3.8 million women and three million men. Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death for men, but the third leading cause for women. So says the American Heart Association this month in its newly released guidelines for prevention of stroke in women.

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As with dieters in general, it’s not uncommon for people who undergo weight loss surgery to gain back the pounds they lost. In the search for a reason why, a study from U-T Southwestern Medical Center found that even after three months of nutritional counseling, many patients failed to follow guidelines after surgery. Dr. Abhimanyu Garg explains in the week’s Vital Signs.

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