Health

Fitness, well-being, disease, medical research and issues related to Seton and St. David's Healthcare, Austin Regional Clinic and other health care providers in Austin and Central Texas

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman/TexasTribune

Doctors in Austin are trying to urgently match five-year-old Leland with a new kidney. He’s on dialysis, and in the highest and most urgent category of patients needing a new organ.

His situation is an example of the pressing need for organ donors in Texas and across the U.S.


Pu Ying Huang/KUT

The recent news from the World Health Organization about processed meats and red meats – and associated cancer risks – might have you thinking about your diet. One group that’s probably not affected: vegans.

Vegans don’t eat anything that involves animals. No meat. No dairy or eggs. Many even avoid honey, too.

For a long time, they were considered extremist vegetarians living on the fringe, but that’s begun to change. In Austin, some vegan products are so popular, chain grocery stores can’t even keep them in stock. 


flickr/mydailymorsel

Researchers are in Austin this week for the International Conference on Neural Tube Defects. It coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act — a law that led to the U.S. government acknowledging a link between folic acid deficiency during pregnancy and neural tube defects, like spina bifida.

The law also led to mandatory enrichment of certain foods with folic acid, but not all foods — particularly, tortillas. 


Image credit Sarah Montgomery/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this week, as the state of Texas moved to kick Planned Parenthood out of the Medicaid program, Gov. Greg Abbott hinted there might be more to come.

Tamir Khalifa/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Days after Texas health officials announced they want to kick Planned Parenthood out of the state Medicaid program, state investigators on Thursday visited Planned Parenthood facilities in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas.

Image via Sarah Montgomery/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Earlier this year, a three-person group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress started releasing surreptitious videos of Planned Parenthood officials from across the country – including Houston.


Tamir Khalifa/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: Texas health officials say they are kicking Planned Parenthood out of the state Medicaid program entirely over what they called "acts of misconduct" revealed in undercover videos filmed earlier this year.

Image courtesy Dr. Edward Wozniak/DSHS

You know how some bugs – like mosquitos – can transmit illnesses, like the West Nile virus or malaria, through a bite?


If you're struck by a macaw, sucked into a jet engine or are having relationship problems with your in-laws, fear not: Your doctor now has a medical diagnosis code for that.

On Thursday, doctors, hospitals and health insurers must start using the ICD-10, a vast new set of alphanumeric codes for describing diseases and injuries in unprecedented detail.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

People struggling with alcoholism can trace their addiction to a population of neurons in the brain that, when stimulated, influence whether one drink leads to two.


Image via flickr/Cayusa (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Since the televised murder of two reporters last week in Virginia, a 17-year-old was killed in a shooting near an elementary school in southwest Houston, a police officer was shot and killed in Sunset, Louisiana, when he tried to intervene in a violent domestic dispute, and an on-campus shooting at Texas Southern University injured one person.

Terrence Henry/KUT News

Many of us will experience trauma at some point in our lives, and some of us will get Post-Traumatic Stress Order, or PTSD.

It’s not unique to military veterans. It affects 8 million adults in the U.S. every year. Recent research by Mark Powers, an associate professor at the Institute for Mental Health Research at the University of Texas at Austin, shows how running could make PTSD treatment more efficient and tolerable for patients.  

KUT News

Vaccines have been in the news yet again lately. On June 30, 2015, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires almost all school children to be fully vaccinated in order to go to school, allowing only some medical exemptions.

Meantime, a health care company in Central Texas says it will no longer treat children who don’t get fully immunized. The company cites a measles outbreak that started in Disneyland last year as a chief reason for the policy change. Texas does allow parents to opt out of vaccinations if they use religious or personal beliefs. 

US Army Corps of Engineers/flickr

The Austin Regional Clinic will stop accepting new unvaccinated pediatric patients — that is, children whose parents have opted them out of routine vaccinations. The ARC announced its new policy this morning.

The regional health system, which has locations in Austin plus six surrounding cities, cites patient safety as the reason for the new regulation, set to take effect Wednesday.

“Parents who are unwilling to commit to a vaccination schedule will need to find another physician outside of ARC,” clinic officials said in the release.

State Health Tests Prodded Blue Bell Recall

Apr 24, 2015
John Jordan/Texas Tribune

Via the Texas Tribune:

It’s the phone call no company in Texas wants to receive.

Shortly after lab tests on two Blue Bell ice cream flavors — Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough — came back “presumptive positive” for the deadly bacteria Listeria monocytogenes , Kathy Perkins reached for the phone and contacted the Brenham-based company with the unfavorable news.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

In 1998, the federal government mandated that breast reconstructions after a mastectomy be covered by health insurance. That was the last time anything really big happened in the field of breast reconstruction, and while it was a huge development, it wasn't an improvement to the procedure itself.

But an Austin company is aiming to transform outcomes for breast reconstruction patients through the use of 3D printing technology.

Warning: This story contains some frank discussions and revealing images of human anatomy.

KUT News

Mary Lou Brown has felt so lonely living in Austin. Since her diagnosis with lupus in 2003, she hasn’t found any support groups for people with the disease. She gets a lot of help from her husband and son, but she says no one gets what it’s like to be in pain all day long.

"[The pain] goes from your heel all the way to the scalp, where no one can touch you," Brown says.

Most of us have an immune system that protects us from germs. But if you have lupus, your immune system can’t tell the difference between the bad guys and healthy tissue, so it attacks the healthy tissue, causing inflammation and pain.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Five years ago, Moira Foley was a nurse in New Orleans. She remembers the night a teenager, a rape victim, came into her hospital. 

“We had our evidence collection kit, and this poor 16 year old who had been assaulted at Mardi Gras, and we literally had to open the kit and read the instructions," Foley remembers.

"And as I’m standing there doing it, I’m thinking, 'This is her evidence. If this goes to trial, it’s us who this is on, and we don’t know what we’re doing.'" 

That’s when she decided to get certified to perform sexual assault forensic exams, or SAFE exams. Now, she’s one of nine nurses at St. David’s who perform SAFE exams in a small room in the back of the ER.

Monik Marcus/flickr http://bit.ly/ODQleE

About half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and low-income women are more likely to have an unintended pregnancy.

A new study suggests that if birth control pills were covered by insurance and made available over the counter, the rate of unintended pregnancies would drop anywhere from seven up to 25 percent. 

The study, published in the journal Contraception, found that the number of low-income women using birth control pills would jump between 11 and 21 percent if they were both covered by insurance and made available without a prescription.

Sanofi Pasteur/flickr

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently dealing with more than 100 cases of measles. In 2014, the U.S. saw 644 cases, more than it had seen in two decades. Texas had its own measles scare as recently as January, though it ultimately was just a scare.

At the same time, politicians as public-facing as New Jersey Gov. and likely presidential candidate Chris Christie are weighing in on the ongoing vaccination debate. Christie said that parents should be given a choice of whether or not to vaccinate their kids from diseases such as the measles. Another likely presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, echoed that sentiment, saying he believes kids should not be getting "ten vaccines at once" and that parents should have "some input." 

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