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Health

Photo by Tyler Antrim

A lot of attention has been paid lately to troops coming home from Iraq now that the war is over. 

But thousands of soldiers who have served post 9-11 are home already and many continue to struggle in civilian life.  One of these struggles is combating suicidal thoughts.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs finds that eighteen veterans die by suicide each day. In Connecticut, Commissioner of Veterans Affairs, Linda Schwartz says in the last year, an estimated fourteen veterans in the state committed suicide. But she stresses suicide is often underreported.

Hospitals: Same Surgery, Widely Different Rates

Dec 28, 2011
Gabriela Pinto / Flickr

Each time John Dempsey Hospital performs a cardiac valve surgery, the hospital receives a median payment of $82,589 from Medicare – about $23,000 more than the median paid to Danbury Hospital for the same surgical procedure.

A pacemaker implant at Dempsey, part of the University of Connecticut, costs Medicare about $20,000—$2,200 more than Yale-New Haven, $3,500 more than Bridgeport Hospital and $6,300 more than the Hospital of Central Connecticut.

Lady Parts

Dec 27, 2011
Peter Dedina/flickr creative commons

The premiere of Lady Parts, a kind of Car Talk version of women's health. The conversation will be frank, so we leave it to you to decide if you'd like the kids to listen.

We are constantly confronting death. If you watch those CSI shows, you see death. If you watch cable shows, like "Boardwalk Empire", you see gruesome grisly death. If you watch the news or read the paper, you find out about people who died.

But none of them are us.

They're abstractions. They don't tell us about our own deaths any more than Lord of the Rings tells us about our impending trip to Mordor. Death, in television and even in the news, is usually somebody else's problem.

The Age of Alzheimer's

Dec 21, 2011
Vince Alongi

Alzheimer’s is predicted to be the defining disease of the baby boom generation.

It’s an incurable brain disorder that destroys memory, as well as the ability to speak and function.  It also slowly eats away at loved ones who serve as caregivers.  

DreadyRadical/flickr creative commons

If you've wondered whether to call an ambulance, EMT Jane Stern has tips and information. Plus, Amy Bloom on why open relationships do and do not work.

As the U-S Supreme Court prepares to test the constitutionality of President Obama's signature health care reform law, state officials across the country are trying to figure out the best ways to implement it -- even if they don't think it's the best option out there.  Victoria Veltri is Connecticut's health care advocate.  As the state gears up for the introduction of its private health insurance exchange, where those without insurance can buy it, Veltri told WNPR's Where We Live that she'd like to see something totally different.  A public health insurance plan.

Health Care Advocate Victoria Veltri

Dec 14, 2011
Chion Wolf

Connecticut’s new healthcare advocate, Victoria Veltri is tasked with helping residents through the maze of health care laws, regulations and roadblocks.

Veltri’s involved in disputes between insurance carriers and health care providers; disputes about the state’s Medicaid program for low-income adults; and about the implementation of state health exchanges.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Dec 9, 2011
Jerry Wong (Flickr Creative Commons)

Each year more than 350,000 Americans die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest – that’s more than the total death rate for breast cancer, lung cancer, HIV/AIDS, motor vehicle accidents, and violent traumatic events combined.

Health officials say widespread public access to Automated External Defibrillators or AEDs...small easy-to-use devices, could drastically reduce the death rate.

So why aren’t they more accessible?

A University of Connecticut professor has been studying two treatment therapies for post traumatic stress disorder. The study focuses on the military community which sees a disproportionate number of PTSD cases.

Aging Vigorously

Dec 1, 2011
Roy Rowan

The population of those 90 and over in America has nearly tripled in the last 30 years.

And (surprise!) Connecticut is in the top five states with the largest number of people over 85 years old. A recent census study had to add a whole new category for these “oldest old” folks. So what does it mean that more people will be living well into their 90s?

Today we’ll talk to 91 year old former journalist and author Roy Rowan who says he isnt “aging gracefully” - but aging “vigorously” and “actively.”  

Hospitals To Face Penalties For High Readmissions

Nov 28, 2011
Jordan Valentine Graphic

Patients treated for pneumonia at four Connecticut hospitals have ended up readmitted to the hospital within 30 days at rates significantly higher than the national average—a lapse that the federal government considers costly and potentially harmful, and that could lead to Medicare penalties beginning in 2012.

UConn Docs Offer New Shoes, and Healthy Feet

Nov 24, 2011
Uma Ramiah

Each year, the New England Musculoskeletal Institute at the University of Connecticut  provides free foot health screenings -- and new shoes -- for the homeless.

Dr. Vinayak Sathe is inspecting ... a foot.

"Can you move your ankle up and down? Good. And can you move it sideways? So just swelling right? And how far up does it go, like up to here?"

Flickr Creative Commons, katietower

In 2006, readers of the New York Times were treated to photographs of Canto and Owen

Canto had been following a version of the supposedly life extending calorie-restricting diet. He looked youthful and alert and healthy. Owen had been eating a reasonably healthy, traditional diet. He looked fat and run-down.

Canto and Owen were the same age. They were also monkeys.

Asthma Rate Climbs To 9.4%; Worst In Cities

Nov 21, 2011

Residents in Connecticut’s five largest cities are nearly three times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma – and twice as likely to die from it—as residents in the rest of the state, according to new data from the state Department of Public Health.

The prevalence of state adults reporting asthma has increased from 7.8 percent in 2000 to 9.4 percent in 2009, the most-recent data shows, but it is residents in the five cities—Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury – who bear the brunt of it.

Dave Neukirch/flickr creative commons

Connecticut Hospice in Branford marks an achievement matched by no other hospice in the nation. Reaction from Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, and a look at one of the programs that makes Connecticut Hospice THE palliative care center in the country.  

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether it's constitutional to make Americans buy health insurance -- and if not, whether the rest of the health care overhaul can take effect.  The court's announcement means some uncertainty for Connecticut and states across the country.

Courtesy of South Park Inn

After a decade of wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, more young veterans are back from combat with nowhere to live. New numbers just released from the federal VA and HUD find in the last year, 13,000 homeless veterans were between the ages of 18 and 30.

They make up nine percent of homeless veterans nationwide but their numbers are only expected to rise as troop drawdowns continue.  In Connecticut, there are anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 veterans who are homeless each day.

Asperger's Syndrome

Nov 2, 2011
Chion Wolf

There is one part of the autism spectrum with a specific name: Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger’s is a relatively new diagnosis - it was just added to the DSM in 1994.

It’s said to be a “milder” form of autism... Those with Asperger's may face social challenges and sometimes develop unusual behaviors and interests.

However, they typically do not have many of the problems with language or intellectual disability normally associated with autism.

Maximum Healing

Oct 28, 2011
whologwhy/flickr creative commons

Maximum Healing: Optimize Your Natural Ability to Heal

Courtesy of Friends of Fisher House Connecticut

Most people have heard of Ronald McDonald houses that provide a place for sick children and their families to stay while seeking medical treatment. But chances are you haven't heard of a Fisher House. Now there's an effort to build one in West Haven.

Home Care Inspections Lag, Fines Rarely Imposed

Oct 25, 2011
Thomas MacMillan

Nurse Tish Allen hooks Judy Taber to a vacuum system to promote healing of Taber’s latest pressure ulcer. Allen asks how Taber’s pain rates today on a scale of one to 10. “Nine,” replies Tabor, who suffers from a rare spinal disease, ankylosing spondylitis, which has taken away her ability to walk, swallow or turn her head completely.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this treatment is that it’s happening in Taber’s Hamden apartment – not a hospital. Like many Connecticut residents, Taber depends on home care.

Turn on an NFL game this month and you're likely to see linebackers sporting pink cleats and gloves. Buy groceries and you'll have your choice of products -- from yogurt to mushrooms -- in pink packaging. As the Connecticut Mirror and WNPR's Jeff Cohen report, "Pinktober" and breast cancer awareness month have people's attention. Breast cancer is among the most common forms of cancer and kills about 40,000 people a year in the U.S.  But it's not the leading cause of death for men and women -- that's heart disease.

Courtesy of Flickr CC by Ars Electronica

Airdate: October 17, 2011 A recent Pew Center study of U.S military in the post 9-11 era found 37 percent of veterans suffer from post traumatic stress. For those diagnosed with PTSD and who are getting care at a VA facility, one of the treatments used is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing or EMDR. It's therapy to resolve trauma related disorders.

What's For Lunch?

Oct 10, 2011
Chion Wolf

Pizza...tacos...mystery vegetable.  Oooh, you want tater tots with that?

Yes, the iconic school lunch.  It has strangely changed very little over the years, and accomplishes a difficult feat.  It’s not thought of fondly by either nutritionists or students.

But all that may be changing.  

More than 19 million Americans suffer from depression, but fewer than half seek treatment.  As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, Thursdsay/last week was National Depression Screening Day -- a push to get more people to the doctor's office. David Wheeler is a clinical psychologist at Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield.

The Vegan Lifestyle

Sep 29, 2011
Elaine Vigneault, Flickr Creative Commons

Bill Clinton is a vegan. You'd think that would be a bigger story: one of humankind's most voracious carnivores swiching to the other extreme. For Clinton, it's probably all about heart health, although it may have helped that his daughter Chelsea was already a vegan. Veganism is increasingly popular among some of the bigshot of corporate capitalism. Steve Jobs, Steve Wynn, Mortimer Zuckerman, Russell Simmons.

Doctors may want to think carefully about the language they use when talking with parents about a child’s weight.  A new study by Yale University researchers finds that certain words reinforce negative stigma and may undermine important discussions about health.

Courtesy of Jackson Films

Advocates for sexual assault victims contend there's a backlog of untested rape kits nationwide. 

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