Health

NPR health
9:08 am
Wed June 27, 2012

Feds move to curb abusive debt collection by nonprofit hospitals

Deb Waldin testifies about her experience with a debt collector at a Minnesota hospital during a hearing led by Sen. Al Franken in St. Paul, Minn., in late May.
Minnesota Public Radio/Jeffrey Thompson

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 7:36 am

Deb Waldin was in agony when she arrived at the emergency room of Fairview Southdale, a nonprofit hospital in suburban Minneapolis. On a scale of 1 to 10, she says her pain was at 12.

She turned out to have kidney stones. But before she got the diagnosis, while she was still lying on a gurney waiting to see a doctor, she was approached by a debt collector from a company called Accretive Health.

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Health
3:35 pm
Fri May 25, 2012

State audit finds unexplained gaps in children's mental health care

Oregon auditors have found that girls under age 13 and Hispanic youth are using using mental health services at a disproportionately low rate. Photo by HHS.gov

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 3:11 pm

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon needs to do a better job at making sure that low-income children are getting the mental health services they’re eligible for. That's the finding of a new audit by the Oregon Secretary of State's office.

The report applauds the Oregon Health Authority for bringing tens of thousands of additional children into the Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan over the past three years.

But auditors found that some groups of children were using mental health services at a disproportionately low rate. They include girls under age 13, and Hispanic youth of all ages.

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Health news
7:54 am
Fri May 25, 2012

Dispatchers' CPR coaching saves lives when every minute counts

Becky Cole was eight months pregnant with her son Ryan when she passed out. Her husband performed CPR for six minutes with the help of a dispatcher before medics arrived.
Courtesy of Medic One Foundation

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 7:09 am

Your chances of surviving a sudden heart attack may depend on where you live; some American cities have survival rates five times higher than others. One difference can be 911 dispatchers.

If they coach someone over the phone to give CPR, the chance of surviving goes up. There's now a push to make it universal, but some cities are slow to implement the necessary training.

Becky Cole was eight months pregnant with her fourth child when she collapsed against the bathroom door. It was January 2011 in the Seattle suburb of Woodinville.

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Health news
12:05 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Whooping cough epidemic declared in Washington state

Washington state's worst outbreak of whooping cough in decades has prompted health officials to declare an epidemic.

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Health
4:10 pm
Mon May 7, 2012

Don't curse the rain, it depresses allergens

Pollen from a variety of common plants. The image is magnified by about 500x, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 μm long. Photo by Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College

Originally published on Mon May 7, 2012 3:15 pm

Here in the Northwest, you hear lots of complaints about the abundant rain. But this year's cool March weather and above normal rainfall in April may have eased the suffering of people with pollen allergies.

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond had a personal reason to investigate the correlation between rainfall and pollen.

"I suffer from allergies to alder and birch," he says. "I noticed that when I am usually sneezing and sniffling in mid to late March, there wasn't much of that this year."

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Health
2:51 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Study: Chemicals In Great-Grandma’s Life May Promote Disease In You

Dr. Michael Skinner. Courtesy Washington State University.

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 9:56 pm

The chance of a woman getting ovarian disease may be tied to the toxic chemicals her great-grandmother was exposed to. That’s according to a new study by researchers at Washington State University. The study could help explain the role of environmental factors in inherited diseases.

Here’s how it works. Picture your great-grandmother. Now let’s say, while pregnant with your future grandparent, she was exposed to some toxic chemical. Pesticides, phthalates -- that stuff in plastic -- or maybe jet fuel. Those are some of the things the researchers looked at.

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Global Health
5:12 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Study: Many girls in U.S. will have shorter lives than their mothers

In this screen grab from the IHME website, you can see some lifespan comparisons of women in 2009. Go to the Institute’s website to interact with this and other graphics to learn more.

By Claudia Rowe, special correspondent

Despite living in a country with one of the best health-care systems in the world, thousands of American girls will have shorter lives than their mothers, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

In 661 areas of the country life expectancy for women has stagnated or decreased since 1999.

“It’s tragic,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, who lead the team of researchers evaluating American health and mortality trends across the country.

Read more on Humanosphere.

Health news
10:12 am
Wed April 11, 2012

Google shows Washington stuck in flu season

Has the flu been where you are at?
Gianmaria Veronese Flickr

Flu season is hanging on longer than usual in parts of the Northwest say health officials. That’s shown in cases of the flu  and also via web searches.

Google queries for terms like “muscle aches,” ”flu symptoms” and “thermometer” are being used to track where flu is hitting now.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:00 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

What your gynecologist doesn't know about your sex life, but should

Having trouble in bed? Don't expect your gynecologist to ask.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 22, 2012 11:48 am

If your OB-GYN doesn't ask you about your sex life, who will?

That's the question that comes to mind on reading about a new survey of the women's health specialists and what they don't talk about with their patients.

Most gynecologists did ask a patient if she was sexually active. A measly 14 percent asked about sexual activity and pleasure. Only 28 percent asked about a patient's sexual orientation. Yet one-quarter of the doctors say they had expressed disapproval of their patients' sexual practices.

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Shots - Health Blog
9:06 am
Thu March 15, 2012

Feds To Pay For Graphic Anti-Smoking Ads

One of the graphic anti-smoking ads that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will run soon.
CDC

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 8:54 am

Federal health officials unveiled a graphic new anti-smoking campaign featuring testimonials from ex-smokers about the toll of tobacco on their health.

These aren't the usual public service announcements. The $54 million "Tips from Smokers" campaign marks the first time the federal government plans to pay to run anti-smoking ads nationwide, officials said.

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Science
9:57 am
Thu March 8, 2012

WSU studying bear hibernation in hunt for diabetes cure

A group of Washington State University scientists performing an echocardiogram on an adult female grizzly bear named Kio during the hibernation period. Photo courtesy Mike Madel

Originally published on Wed March 7, 2012 12:00 am

WSU Researchers Studying Bears’ Hibernation To Narrow Down A Cure For Diabetes

030712AK_Bears.wav :57 Wrap 3/7/12 Anna King/CF

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hibernating bears do things that doctors tell humans not to do. They eat fatty foods, lay around for months on end and get high cholesterol. Yet they don’t suffer the same ill effects we would.

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Environment
1:50 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Puget Sound 'tub' tainted by industrial residue of toxic dioxin

A dioxin survey map from the EPA, establishing baseline data through sampling by the research vessel Bold. Sediment samples were collected and analyzed at 70 locations throughout the Sound.
US EPA image

When you think about Puget Sound, a bathtub might not be the first image to come to mind.

But that’s one way environmentalists and scientists sometimes describe it, because the shape of Puget Sound is an important factor when it comes to keeping it clean.

A long-awaited report from the Environmental Protection Agency on the health effects of dioxin is confirming what many experts have known for a long time. 

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Fighting Depression
10:57 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Could a club drug offer 'almost immediate' relief from depression?

Ketamine has been used as an anesthetic for decades. It's also a widely popular but illegal club drug known as "Special K." When administered in low doses, patients report a rapid reduction in depression symptoms.
Huw Golledge flickr

Originally published on Sun January 29, 2012 9:01 pm

There's no quick fix for severe depression.

Although antidepressants like Prozac have been around since the 1970s, they usually take weeks to make a difference. And for up to 40 percent of patients, they simply don't work.

As a result, there are limited options when patients show up in an emergency room with suicidal depression.

The doctors and nurses at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston say they see this problem every day.

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The Salt
9:24 am
Fri January 27, 2012

From Health Food To Health Risk: Sprouts Slip Off The Menu

Fresh and green, yes. Clean, maybe not.
Jowita Stachowiak iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Fri January 27, 2012 9:55 am

At the rate they're going, those nutritious-looking sprouts may disappear from sandwiches and salads near you in not too long. And that may be a good thing.

This week, the Beaumont, Tex.-based Jason's Deli chain announced that it would no longer serve fresh sprouts, citing frequent recalls due to bacterial contamination.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:36 am
Tue January 17, 2012

Obesity epidemic may have peaked in U.S.

Originally published on Tue January 17, 2012 10:08 am

The nation's obesity epidemic appears to have hit a plateau, according to the latest federal data released Tuesday.

Obesity soared in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s, doubling among adults and tripling among children. That raised widespread alarm and debate about the causes and possible solutions. Obesity can increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other serious health problems.

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