Health

It's All Politics
12:28 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Doctors Say Reid's Request For Bowel Research Money Is No Joke

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada talks about unemployment benefits during a news conference Thursday.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 10:47 am

In his new memoir, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates heaped scorn on many members of Congress for pushing their parochial interests with him.

But he saved a special dig for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"With two ongoing wars and all our budget and other issues, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry," Gates writes, describing how the Nevada Democrat urged him to have the Defense Department invest in research into irritable bowel syndrome.

It's an anecdote that drew snickers — and media attention, including here at NPR.

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Health
12:18 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Oklahoma Health Department Says 12 Have Died From Flu

Credit NHSE / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Department of Health says influenza has claimed 12 lives and forced the hospitalization of 399 people since the ongoing flu season began.

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Shots - Health News
10:17 am
Thu January 16, 2014

FDA Asks Doctors To Stop Prescribing High-Dose Acetaminophen

The prescription painkiller sold under the brand-name Vicodin contains hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen. To reduce the risk of liver damage, the Food and Drug Administration is moving to limit the amount of acetaminophen allowed in prescription medicines.
Toby Talbot AP

The pain reliever acetaminophen is easy on the stomach. But at high doses, the drug can be hell on the liver.

Now the Food and Drug Administration is asking doctors to refrain from prescribing drugs that contain high doses of acetaminophen to minimize the risk of liver damage.

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in nonprescription Tylenol. But it's also inside quite a few prescription pain pills, including Vicodin and Percocet.

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Planet Money
4:11 am
Thu January 16, 2014

How Perverse Incentives Drive Up Health Care Costs

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 2:07 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Emergency medical technicians, EMTs, are trained to save your life and aim to get you to a hospital as quickly as possible when needed. One thing they are usually not asked to do is to find ways to save money.

NPR's Zoe Chace explores one experiment in New York City that is trying to cut emergency care costs and cut return trips to the E.R.

ZOE CHACE, BYLINE: I'm in an ambulance, and we're on the way to the emergency room.

PETER DERMODY: How long have you been feeling like this, Michael?

MICHAEL: Like, two days.

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Shots - Health News
2:25 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Florida Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana For Child Seizures

Marilyn Budzynski takes care of her 20-year-old son, Michael, in Eustis, Fla., in September. Michael suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.
Tom Benitez MCT /Landov

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:57 pm

Florida may soon become the latest state to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana. Advocates there are gathering signatures to put a medical marijuana referendum on the fall ballot.

But Florida's Legislature may act sooner to allow residents access to a particular type of marijuana. Advocates say the strain called Charlotte's Web offers hope to children with severe seizure disorders.

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Shots - Health News
4:06 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

After Checking Blood Pressure, Kiosks Give Sales Leads To Insurers

SoloHealth owns 3,500 health screening kiosks like this one in San Francisco. In some states, the company sells customer contact information to insurers.
April Dembosky

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:56 pm

Those machines in drugstores and supermarkets that let people check their blood pressure also may be selling people's contact information to insurance companies trolling for new customers.

One of these kiosks sits in Aisle 10 of a Safeway in a city near San Francisco. Sitting down at the machine is like slipping into the cockpit of a 1980s arcade game. There are a big plastic seat and footrest for measuring weight and body mass index, a window for testing vision, and a blood pressure cuff. The kiosks don't charge people for the blood pressure measurement.

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Health Care
4:04 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Meet The Health Care First-Timers

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 6:44 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Millions more Americans now have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Much of the focus has been on coverage gaps, increased premiums and the clumsy rollout of the new law. But 6.1 million Americans, many of whom would not otherwise have health insurance, are now enrolled.

NPR's Nathan Rott has been talking with some of them.

(SOUNDBITE OF BABY)

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Shots - Health News
2:42 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Blood Pressure Ruckus Reveals Big Secret In Medicine

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 3:55 pm

There has been a carefully guarded secret in medicine: Evidence is often inconclusive, and experts commonly disagree about what it means.

Most medical decisions aren't cut and dried. Instead they're usually made with uncertainty about what is best for each person.

This uncertainty secret has been revealed in a very public disagreement among experts about who should be treated for high blood pressure. The controversy hinges on the level of blood pressure that should serve as a trigger for treatment.

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Shots - Health News
11:37 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Biceps Curls And Down Dogs May Help Lower Diabetes Risk

Great-looking guns and lower diabetes risk, a nice twofer.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 4:04 pm

Women who work out with weights an hour a week cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and yoga or stretching exercises count, too, according to a study that tracked the health of almost 100,000 women.

Doctors have long known that regular exercise reduces the risk of diabetes, but that's always been translated as aerobic exercise like jogging or brisk walking.

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Sports
11:21 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Judge Blocks NFL Concussion Settlement

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, some corners of the Internet are melting down because of a reported shortage of Velveeta. And don't try to act like you don't know what that is. We'll talk about the history of the ooey, gooey stuff and why, in a buffalo mozzarella world, we still like it. But first, to football. This is golden time for pro-football lovers. Two teams will book their tickets to the Super Bowl this weekend after a long season of hard hits.

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