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 8:44 a.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.

Ways to Connect

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Faced with a shortage of donor hearts, transplant centers have had to expand their criteria for acceptable organs. 

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Treatment for early stage breast cancer can involve dozens of radiation treatments over a month or more, but a clinical trial now underway may shorten that to a single dose.

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When you walk into the hospital with chest pain, doctors will conduct a physical exam, get your medical history and do an echocardiogram or EKG to measure electrical activity in the heart.

And then there’s the blood test to diagnose or rule out a heart attack. 

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There’s good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). While a high HDL number on a screening is usually good news, it may not tell the whole story for some women.

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Various medications and therapies can provide relief, but the FDA has approved the first in a new class of drug aimed at heading off migraine headaches before they start. 

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Over-the-counter medications usually relieve most cases of acid reflux, or what some call “nighttime heartburn," but they don’t always work. 

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Food companies have been using the snowy-colored vegetable — and others — to cash in on the low-carb, gluten-free trend. A local dietitian explains what’s so appealing about cauliflower.

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We can see it’s not a good thing for us, but belly fat can have more serious consequences than you know. There's also a way to get rid of it.

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A new study seeking detailed information about the ongoing increase in liver cancer in the U.S. found racial and ethnic differences in the outcomes.

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It’s called junk food for a reason.

It contributes no nutritional value, but you don’t have to avoid it to maintain long-term health.

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Failure to remove your eye makeup on a regular basis can eventually cause serious problems, like inflammation and irritation, according to a local ophthalmologist.

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After years of warnings to limit our consumption of eggs, a recent study suggests eating one a day might actually lower rates of heart disease and risk of stroke.

A local cardiologist says the benefits depend on who's eating the egg.

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The American Cancer Society recommends you should begin screening for colon cancer at an earlier age. For a long time, that was 50. Now, it’s 45.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Texas turns out plenty of medical school graduates, but there are not enough residencies to help retain them, a local doctor says. And that imbalance is contributing to a shortage of physicians in the state.  

That's why Medical City Healthcare, UNT Health Science Center and HCA Healthcare are joining forces to create about 500 new residencies over the next five to seven years. 

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The American Cancer Society ranks lung cancer as the second most common cancer in both men and women.

A screening program was created for those most at risk, but researchers report fewer than 2 percent of eligible current and former smokers have sought the scans.

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Research has found a combination of the DASH and Mediterranean diets can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and improve brain health.

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Your blood pressure reads higher at a clinic than in other settings. Many thought white coat hypertension was simply stress or nerves, but a recent study suggests there may be more to it.

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Exercise can play an important role in maintaining physical health. But it also can contribute to your mental well-being. 

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Artificial sweeteners are great for maintaining taste while cutting the calories, but they can work against you if you’re not careful.

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Sugar-sweetened beverages are leading sources of added sugars in the American diet, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But many aren't aware just how much sugar is in every swallow. Too much can lead to health problems. 

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The rising use of e-cigarettes among teenagers has doctors worried about long-term health risks and calling for more regulation of the devices.

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Cancer treatment often involves chemotherapy and other toxic drugs, but a recent study again suggests hope of an organic approach.

In the study, Ajay Goel, director of gastrointestinal research at the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, found that grape seed extract can fight colon cancer.

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Physical fitness, diet and mental stimulation all contribute to good brain health. But you also need water — and lots of it.

On average, the human body contains about 60 percent water. Nearly all bodily systems depend on it, including the brain.

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A recently published study of 191 women found those who were highly fit in middle age decreased their risk for dementia by 88 percent compared to those who were moderately fit.

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Recent studies suggest even moderate consumption of coffee – one to four cups a day – may reduce the odds of colon cancer developing or recurring.

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More than eight million people have peripheral arterial disease or PAD, but relatively few know what it is. Ignoring the signs can have serious consequences.

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Souping, similar to juicing, has been popular in recent years as way to detox the body and to lose weight, but eating only soup for days at a time can cause problems, if you’re not careful.

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Some blame their weight gain on slow metabolism, which can affect the ability to keep off extra pounds, but other factors play a role.

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Ovarian cancer affects about 1 percent of women, but it has a high mortality rate — about 14,000 deaths each year. Still, new guidelines recommend women who are not at high risk for the disease should avoid screening for it.

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One option for treating an enlarged prostate in men involves an invasive form of surgery known to have serious side effects. A urologist in North Texas has been certified for a newer, minimally invasive form of treatment called UroLift.

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