Health/Science/Tech | KERA News

Health/Science/Tech

Every week, KERA explores the latest in health, science and technology in North Texas through two main series, Vital Signs and Breakthroughs.

Charts at UNT Health Science Center's Human Movement Performance Lab.
Credit Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Vital Signs

In Vital Signs, Sam Baker taps into the expertise of local health care leaders to provide insight into your everyday health and well-being.

Breakthroughs

In Breakthroughs, KERA reporters delve into the latest health-related technologies developed in North Texas and across the state. From the Zika virus to fried chicken, no scientific topic is off limits. 

Learn more in-depth multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

Under the Texas Capitol dome in the Rotunda.
State of Texas

State lawmakers have breathed new life into a major mental health bill with bipartisan support, after it was temporarily struck down by a North Texas Tea Party leader.

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Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Health have developed a new screening approach that can more quickly identify diseases hard to diagnose in kids.

Jason Dyke and his "bus family" get together for Texas A&M football games every year. Dyke says the encouragement and practical help they gave him after the death of one of his sons were inspirations for Carson's VIllage.
Courtesy Jason Dyke

Jason Dyke is a proud Aggie. Visit his home in Coppell, and you're greeted with a maroon Texas A&M University flag outside the front door. About 15 years ago, he and some of his college friends pooled their money and bought an old Texas A&M school bus. Dyke calls them his "bus family." 

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The American Diabetes Association has launched a public awareness campaign in Dallas County to battle an ongoing high rate of type 2 diabetes.

Don't see the video? Click here.

Communicating through your thoughts alone is possible — with a little technical assistance.

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A new study says the more eggs you eat — mostly because of the cholesterol inside ­— the more you’re at risk for heart disease and premature death.

The World Health Organization recommends limited screen time for kids under 5.
Associated Press

The World Health Organization has issued new guidelines on how much screen time young children should get: Less is better for children under 5, and infants — kids younger than a year old — shouldn't be exposed to electronic screens at all.

When Netflix's 13 Reasons Why was released two years ago, depicting the life of a teenager who decided to take her own life, educators and psychologists warned the program could lead to copycat suicides. Now, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health shows that those concerns may have been warranted.

A sign posting an alert for bad air quality is shown along Interstate Highway 635 in Dallas, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009.
Associated Press

Ozone and particle pollution found in unhealthy air can be hard on the respiratory system. But the particle pollution also can affect your heart. Cardiologist Dr. Amit Manhas explains why.

Peter Nunn is 32 and he's happy. He lives just outside Atlanta with his husband Monte, his dog Amelie, and their cat Hollow.

The dining room is decorated with a photo gallery wall of family — his husband dancing with his mother at their wedding and pictures of the couple. But it took a long time and work to get to a place where Nunn said he accepted and loved himself.

As a gay man, Nunn said, his father tried to change him.

In this July 26, 2018 photo, a four-year-old boy is shown playing in a Spiderman mask, who is being cared for by Evelyn Zepeda at her home in Austin, Texas.
Associated Press

For decades, the traditional approach to raising boys into men has emphasized toughness and stoicism.

Today, there are updated ways to bring up boys that draw on new insights into psychology and neuroscience.

Scientists have found a way to transform brain signals into spoken words and sentences.

The approach could someday help people who have lost the ability to speak or gesture, a team from the University of California, San Francisco reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.

From Texas Standard:

A group of U.S. health organizations, including the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, recently released the first-ever obesity-focused curriculum for American medical education.

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Cancer of the esophagus — the tube that goes from your throat to your stomach — is on the rise in the U.S., and it's often diagnosed in later stages.

Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Republican from Bedford, testifying against House Bill 906 on April 12, 2019.
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The issue of improving mental health care across the state seemed like a unifying theme at the outset of this legislative session. It was also highlighted as an emergency item by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who called for more student mental health screenings in response to last year's Santa Fe High School shooting.

Now, it's become the subject of some controversy at the statehouse. 

Advancing the clock forward each year is out of sync with how our internal clocks actually work.
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Some love that extra hour of sun in the evening, but research suggests daylight saving time is potentially harmful to our health.

Work Stress. Home Stress. Financial Stress.

The toll of chronic stress isn't limited to emotional suffering. High stress can set the stage for heart disease.

In fact, research shows that those of us who perceive a lot of stress in our lives are at higher risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems over the long term.

Steve Sierzega receives a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in Pomona, N.Y., on March 27, 2019. The county in New York City's northern suburbs declared a local state of emergency over a measles outbreak.
Associated Press

The state health services department has confirmed at least 14 cases of measles in Texas this year, more than in all of 2018. The highly contagious disease primarily affects children, but measles can strike adults — and with serious complications.

It's not always easy to find a therapist who meets your mental health needs, is taking new patients, and takes health insurance. The search process can involve some trial and error.
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If you look closely at a therapist’s business card, you’ll usually see a string of letters after the name — something like LPC, or maybe LCSW. Here's a quick guide to what can seem like alphabet soup. 

About 11 million deaths a year are linked to poor diet around the globe.

What's driving this? As a planet we don't eat enough healthy foods including whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. At the same time, we consume too many sugary drinks, too much salt and too much processed meat.

Hospitals and nursing homes in California and Illinois are testing a surprisingly simple strategy to stop the dangerous, antibiotic-resistant superbugs that kill thousands of people each year: washing patients with a special soap.

The efforts — funded with roughly $8 million from the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — are taking place at 50 facilities in those two states.

Heart failure can't be cured, but it can be managed, to live longer and feel better.
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Heart failure — when the heart can’t pump enough blood and oxygen to support other organs — can be deadly. 

But a diagnosis today is far from a death sentence, and while the illness can't be cured, it can be managed.  

Our thoughts and fears, movements and sensations all arise from the electrical blips of billions of neurons in our brain. Streams of electricity flow through neural circuits to govern these actions of the brain and body, and some scientists think that many neurological and psychiatric disorders may result from dysfunctional circuits.

Dallas Zoo visitors watch trainers work with lions at the Wild Gatherings event on Monday, March 25, 2019.
Syeda Hasan / KERA News

On a sunny spring day, families gathered outside the lion enclosure at the Dallas Zoo, where trainers took the big cats through some exercises and rewarded them with meatballs. Sara Salinas came out to see the lions with her uncle Simon, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease about 11 years ago. 

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Concerns about e-cigarettes usually center on youth. But a CDC report using data from Texas and Oklahoma suggests it’s a problem to watch among pregnant women.

 Emma Walters' T-shirt drawer after organizing.
Courtesy Emma Walters

When she moved out of her Collin County apartment last July, 26-year-old Emma Walters began taking stock of her belongings.

From Texas Standard:

The U.S. population is aging, and many older adults have, or will have, some form of dementia. Right now, the health care workforce is not prepared to meet their needs, says sociologist Christopher Johnson. But Johnson is particularly poised to help fix the problem, as professor at the country's first master's of science program in dementia and aging studies, at Texas State University in San Marcos.

Tucked inside a nondescript building in a residential neighborhood in northwest San Antonio is a little cafe. However, here the coffee doesn't come in Italian sizes, and the guests provide the music. Welcome to a memory cafe.

The U.S. surgeon general's office estimates that more than 20 million people have a substance-use disorder. Meanwhile, the nation's drug overdose crisis shows no sign of slowing.

Yet, by all accounts, there aren't nearly enough physicians who specialize in treating addiction — doctors with extensive clinical training who are board certified in addiction medicine.

State senators are considering a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Texas from 18 to 21. 

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