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

Shutterstock

Sepsis is the body's overwhelming response to infection. It's potentially life-threatening, and recently killed actress Patty Duke. More than 200-thousand cases of sepsis are reported each year, but you can survive it if it’s caught early. 

Shutterstock

In our series, "Vital Signs,"  living with artificial devices like stents, valves and grafts intended to improve blood flow to the heart. Doctors in the U.S. insert the devices in about a million procedures each year. But after that, the work falls to the patient.

Shutterstock

Sold over-the-counter, activated charcoal can be beneficial when used by a medical professional. But some people use it on their own for such things as high cholesterol, hangovers or stomach pain at serious risk to their health.

Shutterstock

Lactose Intolerance is a common problem - about 65 percent of the human population has it. And while it can’t be cured, it’s rarely dangerous and you can manage lactose intolerance.

Shutterstock

Head lice is a common problem among kids.  The CDC estimates the parasitic insects infest between six and 12-million children, ages three to 11, each year.  But Texas and at least 24 other states have reported cases of so-called super lice, which are harder to eliminate.

Shutterstock

Photographing yourself with a smartphone seems harmless. But a man in Washington state died February 28 after accidentally shooting himself in the face while posing with a gun. And at least 49 others here and abroad have died from selfie-related accidents.

Shutterstock

Congenital heart disease is a structural defect in the heart that occurs at birth. Advancements in medicine have made it possible for more people with the disease to survive into adulthood.  But few of those adult survivors get the specialized care they still need.

Shutterstock

Most cases of colon cancer occur in people over 50 - about the time recommended to begin screening for the disease.  But results of research over 15 years found an increase in colon cancer in those younger than 50.

Shutterstock

Atrial fibrillation, a irregular heartbeat, affected more than 33-million people globally in 2010.

A new study says atrial fibrillation appears to be a stronger risk factor for heart disease and death in women than in men.

Shutterstock

The term "broken heart" is usually just a figure of speech. However, the emotional pain or loss involved can contribute to a potentially serious physical condition called Broken Heart Syndrome.

Shutterstock

Lead contamination caused a crisis with the water supply in Flint, Michigan. But the CDC says at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead.

Shutterstock

At some point, many of us will have a case of heartburn that can be easily fixed. However, Dr. Christian Mayorga of Parkland Hospital and UT Southwestern Medical Center explains why heartburn is not always something to take lightly. 

Shutterstock

KERA examines common health issues in our series Vital Signs.

In this edition, a problem common to many – weight gain. A possible solution may lie in how much you sleep. 

Dr. Ryan Hays, Director of Sleep Medicine at Parkland Hospital System and Assistant Professor of Neurology & Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, explains how one affects the other.

Shutterstock

Although nearly four million people a year sustain concussions, there’s still a lot doctors don't know about them, including Dr. Munro Cullum.  The neuropsychologist is one of the researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center leading a study of several hundred people to eventually come up with better treatment for concussion. 

Shutterstock

Many often associate concussion with contact sports like football. But Dr. Benjamin Newman, a neurosurgeon with Methodist Health System, says a blow to the head in almost any activity can lead to a concussion - even kids riding those new bikes they got for Christmas.

Shutterstock

Some good news for coffee drinkers.

Shutterstock

Choosing-poorly designed toys or toys that aren’t age-appropriate for your child can lead to more harm than fun.  

Shutterstock

KERA looks at real-life health issues in our series, Vital Signs. In this edition: all that rich or sweet food we tend eat more of at holiday time.

Shutterstock

A recent study found diverticulitis has been on the rise in this country since the late 1990s. It now accounts for about 300,000 admissions each year for inpatient care.

Dr. Christian Mayorga, a gastroenterologist with Parkland Hospital System, explains this colon problem that can cause pain, obstruction and fever. 

Shutterstock

Dr. Donna Persaud, ​chief of Pediatric Community Medicine at Parkland Hospital System, talks about potential problems from the types of soap we use – especially anti-bacterial soap.

Shutterstock

We examine real-life health issues in our series, Vital Signs. In this episode, dementia.

Actor and comedian Robin Williams was being treated for Parkinson’s Disease when he committed suicide in 2014, but the autopsy showed signs of Lewy Body Dementia.

Dr. Angela Bentle, a geriatrics specialist at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, talked about the often misdiagnosed disorder.

Shutterstock

An agency within the World Health Organization recently concluded eating processed or cured meats like bacon or hot dogs – as well as red meat – can lead to colon cancer.

The Director of the Master of Clinical Nutrition--Coordinated Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center says not quite. Dr. Jo Ann Carson has researched ties between food and cancer for decades. In this edition of "Vital Signs," she explains why the report did not surprise her.

Shutterstock

Manufacturers say the flu vaccine for this season is much more effective than last year’s. However, two new studies suggest flu vaccines in general may not work as well if you take statins.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the studies aren't definitive, but the results are provocative.

Shutterstock

Fans of red and green chili peppers rejoice. The taste and heat you savor also comes with some health benefits.  Sharon Cox, a dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, has some details.

Shutterstock

About 5 million people in the U.S. live with a condition causing the heart to weaken over time. Exercise can reduce the risk of heart failure, but a new study from cardiologists at U-T Southwestern Medical Center suggests adults need more exercise than the recommended federal minimum for a significant reduction.

Shutterstock

A new study of nearly 1,400 patients with an average age of 60 has identified midlife obesity as a risk factor for early onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Angela Bentle, a geriatrics and internal medicine specialist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, has concerns about the results. But she says it’s still a reason enough to watch your weight.

Shutterstock

About 120 over 80 is considered normal blood pressure. But blood pressure can run higher as you get older – around 140.  Doctors wanting to lower that systolic number finally have an ideal target thanks to a study of more than 9,300 seniors called SPRINT.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

In this edition of Vital Signs: caffeine. Rather than use the natural caffeine you get in food or drinks for stimulation, some instead mix in man-made caffeine powder for a bigger jolt.

Shutterstock

In this edition of Vital Signs, treating children with asthma. Doctors usually choose between two steroids to treat acute attacks that require a hospital stay. But a new study in the "Journal of Pediatrics" found one of the steroids – dexamethasone -- had additional benefits for hospitals, patients and their parents.

www.businessinsider.com

In this edition of our series, Vital Signs, a synthetic drug that’s caused chaos in Florida and has begun to show up in Texas. Flakka is a highly addictive substance sold cheaply over the Internet, and it’s posing a serious risk for the young people who use it. 

Pages