<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Health Connection]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.comen-usMon, 21 Aug 2017 13:25:13 -0500Mon, 21 Aug 2017 13:25:13 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Scientists May Have Found Peanut Allergy Cure]]> Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:12:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Peanut_Allergy_Cure_4p_81817.jpg

Scientists may have found a cure for the peanut allergy. The experimental treatment combines a probiotic with small daily doses of peanut protein.

<![CDATA[North Texas Parents Lobby for Medical Marijuana]]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:12:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Medical+cannabis.jpg

Starting Sept. 1, the Texas Compassionate Use Act will allow a small group of epilepsy patients to buy and use CBD, a specific kind of cannabis oil. One North Texas couple hopes one day they will get the Legislature to expand the list of eligible patients to include those like their daughter.

"It's hard having an autistic child," said Christy Zartler, of Richardson.

The Zartlers daughter, Kara, regularly has violent fits.

"She closed-fisted punches her cheeks and her ears, drawing blood," Mark Zartler explained.

"It's painful," his wife added. "I feel like I'm in hell on Earth."

The Zartlers said they tried everything that medicine had to offer, then a neighbor suggested they try cannabis. First, the couple had to get over the stigma.

"Our background is pretty much 'the Cleavers,'" Mark Zartler joked. "This is safer than allowing her to hit herself, and she has a better day. It always works."

The Zartlers started giving their daughter cannabis treatments to calm her fits in 2013. This year, they came out of the shadows, posting videos online to show the before-and-after effects.

"We don't need to convince our neighbors," Mark Zartler said. "We need to convince our elected leaders."

The legislative special session ended this year without the change the Zartlers wanted, but they vow to keep fighting to decriminalize what they're doing for their daughter.

Both parents said their daughter was on about a dozen prescription medications before they starting using cannabis. Now, she takes two prescription medications and two over-the-counter medications.

"Her pharmacy medications are more harmful than marijuana," Christy Zartler said. "I want to help people. I want parents of children like her to know there's a better life."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Steps for Overcoming 'Summer Brain Drain']]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 09:45:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/bts-behavior-health-advice-raw_1200x675_1026712643659.jpg

Angeleena May, a Behavioral Health Care Manager with Children's Health, shares her tips and advice for combating what's called the "summer brain drain."

<![CDATA[Teen Overdose Death Rate Doubles]]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:21:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_teenoverdoses0816_1500x845.jpg

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a steep increase in fatal drug overdoses involving teenagers ages 15 - 19 since 2015 after years of decline. Deaths from fatal drug overdoses doubled, with most cases stemming from opioid use. 

<![CDATA[Therapy Dogs Help Hospitalized Patients]]> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 17:18:01 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CTS_Therapy_Dog_Benefits_4p_81617.jpg

Seven specially-trained dogs help patients at Children's Health in Dallas, improving their physical and mental health.

<![CDATA[Plano Confirms 2nd Human West Nile Case of 2017]]> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 14:50:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Mosquito_Spray_Generic.jpg

Collin County Public Health confirmed Wednesday its second human case of West Nile virus in Plano for 2017.

For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, officials did not provide additional identifying information but did say they would be spraying for mosquitoes in an additional area near Parker Road and Communications Drive.

The second spray area is bound by Parker to the south, Communications to the east, Glenhollow Drive to the north and Midway Road to the west.

Plano had already planned to spray an area near 14th Street and Plano Parkway.

Spraying will take place beginning at about 9 p.m. Thursday.

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<![CDATA[Achromatopsia: Gene Therapy Cures Eye Disease?]]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 17:15:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/211*120/Achromatopsia.jpg

Imagine only being able to see the things in front of you in soft focus, and just in black and white. For people with the genetic eye condition achromatopsia those are just some of the side effects.  But, researchers are testing a new treatment designed to cure the condition by fixing the gene responsible.

Each time Tara Cataldo prepares to leave her house, she has to make sure her face is completely shielded from the sun.

“I need to have very dark, very tinted sunglasses to feel comfortable outside and to see really well.” Cataldo said.

Cataldo has achromatopsia, a genetic condition that makes her eyes incredibly sensitive to light.  She is also very nearsighted; even while wearing glasses or contacts, she can only see clearly at a very short distance.

“I cannot drive a car so I rely on public transportation and my bike to get around.” Cataldo explained.

"There are currently no approved and no effective treatments for achromatopsia,” said University of Florida surgical ophthalmologist Christine Kay.

Kay is working to change that. She is one of a handful of experts testing a gene therapy.

“For achromatopsia the cells we have to target are cone cells responsible for decreased vision and color vision and those are cells at the very bottom layer of the retina,” Kay explained.

Using a tiny cannula, surgeons deliver a normal copy of one of two mutated genes; the CNGA3 or CNGB3 gene, directly into the eye - restoring vision.

Cataldo’s myopia is so severe that her risk of retinal detachment from any retinal surgery is high, which rules her out for the current trial. In the meantime, Cataldo says she’s learned to adapt to achromatopsia and live without limitations.

“And I hope all young achromats learn the same thing,” Cataldo said.

Kay says if the gene could eventually be delivered to the surface of the retina; additional patients, like Cataldo, could be treated. Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation, the biotech company that developed the therapies, and several U.S. universities have successfully tested this therapy in dogs and sheep.

<![CDATA[Denton County Reports 2nd Human West Nile Case of 2017]]> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 14:51:19 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Mosquito_Spray_Generic.jpg

Denton County Public Health reported Wednesday its second human case of West Nile virus for 2017.

The infected person lives in an unincorporated area of Denton County, east of Lewisville, and was diagnosed with West Nile fever.

For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, officials did not provide additional identifying information.

"It is important for residents to adhere to recommended precautions," said Juan Rodriguez, assistant director and chief epidemiologist at DCPH. "We encourage residents to drain standing water surrounding their homes, wear clothing that limits skin exposure, and utilize EPA-approved repellent when outdoors."

Officials in Dallas County announced the day before that a total of nine cases of West Nile so far this year.

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<![CDATA[New Procedure Can Ease Hip Pain Without Replacement]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:37:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Healing_Hips_4p_08152017.jpg

Hip problems are on the rise, and so are hip replacements. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of hip replacement procedures more than doubled.

Doctors are looking for alternatives to this major operation, especially for young, active patients. Now, a newer procedure can ease the pain for some.

Photographer Marie Christine Genero is always looking for the perfect shot. But a few years ago, hip pain prevented her from getting it.

"It was a dull, deep pain in the hip. Since I had that pain, I wasn't going down in the positions that I usually do," Genero said.

She also had to give up many of her favorite activities.

"Boxing, circuit training, snowboarding, running, so just a ton of stuff that I love doing," Genaro said.

Genero had a femoroacetabular impingement, or FAI. It happens when bones in the hip change shape and rub together, and is commonly seen in young, active people.

"So, the ball and socket kind of change shape in response to repetitive activities and loadings that's going on in the joint," explained Dr. Shane J. Nho, orthopedic surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.

Nho performs a procedure called hip arthroscopy to solve the problem. First, he makes tiny incisions and repairs any damage. Then, he works on the abnormal bone shape.

"Most importantly, we have to shave down the bone so that the ball and socket articulate more smoothly," Nho explained.

The surgery only takes about an hour-and-a-half, but the recovery can be six months or more. Nho says because the procedure is newer, the long-term outcomes aren't known. The hope is that arthroscopy can prolong the need for a hip replacement in young patients.

Genero had the procedure about nine months ago, and now, she can snap away.

Nho says hip arthroscopy is considered a newer procedure, and not all doctors are trained to perform it. For more information on the surgery, visit hipsforlife.org.

<![CDATA[Irving Resident the Latest in Dallas Co. to Get West Nile]]> Wed, 16 Aug 2017 04:05:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mosquito-AP_334068230276.jpg

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) is reporting the ninth human case of West Nile virus infection in Dallas County for the year 2017.

The ninth case is a resident of the 75038 ZIP code of Irving who was diagnosed with West Nile fever.

For medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, DCHHS does not provide additional identifying information.

"Our mosquito surveillance program and the county and municipal abatement teams are taking appropriate actions to ensure the safety of our residents. However, it is important for residents to take the necessary precautions," said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director.

"Since there is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatments for WNV infection, residents should adhere to preventive measures to protect themselves and their loved ones," said Dr. Christopher Perkins, DCHHS medical director/health authority.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[If Trump Cuts Obamacare Subsidies, Premiums Will Spike: CBO]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 13:45:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP_17206719818863.jpg

The Congressional Budget Office says Obamacare premiums will increase by 20 percent next year and by 25 percent in 2020 — if President Donald Trump ends key federal subsidies to the program.

The CBO report released Tuesday also found that if the administration moves to cut the billions in subsidies to insurers, that would leave about 5 percent of Americans living in areas with no access to individual health care plans.

As CNBC reports, Trump has repeatedly threatened to end the billions of dollars in payments to insurance companies that sell individual health plans under the Affordable Care Act.

Insurers have warned they will be forced to raise premiums sharply to make up for the loss of cost-sharing reductions payments, or CSRs, if Trump cuts them off.

Photo Credit: Alex Brandon/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Study Aims to Develop Simple Test for Diagnosing CTE]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 04:00:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/brain+scans.jpg

The link between football and long-term brain injuries is news that no one who's ever played the game wants to hear. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, can only be diagnosed after death, but scientists are looking for ways to change that.

It's ground-breaking research former NFL players are watching very closely.

Former Oklahoma Sooners and Chicago Bears tackle Caesar Rentie wonders if his health has yet to pay the price from his time on the gridiron.

"I'm always watching and looking for changes. Yearly I see a doctor and do all the things I do to take care of myself," said Rentie, now the vice president of pastoral services at Methodist Health System. "But it is something that I worry about."

Rentie played college ball in the 1980s and then went pro.

"You get a dinger and you feel dazed. You don't really think about it. You just shake it off and go to the next play," he said.

But now, a new study on former NFL players could help diagnose CTE while a person is still alive. It's about to start in three U.S. cities, including Phoenix, home to former Minnesota Vikings tight end Steve Jordan, who signed up for the trial.

"If we do nothing, then nothing gets done. That's kind of the basics of it," Jordan said.

Researchers will focus on the tau protein, which stabilizes nerve cells in the brain. In CTE, the tau protein forms clumps that slowly spread through the brain, killing brain cells. The tau protein plays a role in other neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's, but is the hallmark of CTE and has a distinct pattern inside the brain.

"Currently there are no treatments for CTE, but there are drugs and things that people are using for Alzheimer's disease that may diminish the amount of tau, and so maybe those things could be used in CTE," said co-lead researcher Kendall Van Keuren-Jensen, Ph.D.

Van Keuren-Jensen says that if she and her team can validate the tau protein as a biomarker, and if the protein can be isolated in a blood sample, it might be possible to develop a simple blood test for diagnosing CTE.

"I think we're going to help ourselves get closer to hopefully, a cure," Jordan said.

Dallas isn't a test site, so Rentie has to watch from the sidelines.

"It's important to be mindful of the studies and to do everything you can to take care of the players that play the game," he said.

But he will use the power of prayer to keep his mind at its best for as long as possible.

"Having a deep faith helps you cope with the struggles that you have," Rentie said.

Researchers hope to get 200 former NFL players to volunteer for the study. It would be the largest study yet of former NFL players, who are at high risk for CTE.

The study begins later this year.

<![CDATA[Asperger's Screener Could Help Save a Life]]> Mon, 14 Aug 2017 17:01:05 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Asperger%27s+screener+app.jpg

Asperger's syndrome is often described as a mild form of autism. It is often not diagnosed until adulthood, which can cause a lifetime of difficulties. But thanks to an autism research center and a determined mom, there's a quick and easy way to get some answers.

"I believe that if we could have put in place the proper supports for Dave, we would never have gone down the path of depression," Patty Dion said.

Dion's son, Dave, wasn't diagnosed with Asperger's until he was 34, after decades of therapies and drugs for other disorders. He killed himself shortly after.

"You can just imagine how devastating that was for our family. But the needless suffering and challenges that our son went through because we didn't have a correct diagnosis..." Dion said.

Enter Chris Smith, director of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, or SARCC. He interviewed 30 people with Asperger's about their symptoms, crunched the data and came up with a quick way to screen kids.

"One of the benefits of the Dave screener, the social challenges screening questionnaire, is that it's quick and easy. It's complete. It's 15 yes or no questions," Smith said.

Teachers or parents answer the questions. Kids who get six or more "yesses" are directed to see a specialist.

"This project is really about offering opportunity to detect those individuals before they have more serious functional impairment," Smith said.

Tom Doebler brought the screener to one of Arizona's public charter schools. He expects a big impact.

"It's just another step in breaking down misunderstanding about autism spectrum disorder in schools and outside the schools, and that's something I just jumped on," Doebler said.

In that first year, four students in Great Hearts Academy were directed to get more intensive testing. That's about the number experts expected to find.

Smith's hope is for universal screening for social challenges in elementary school, just like hearing and vision screening. You can also download the screener for free. The app is called "Think Asperger's" on iTunes or Google Play.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Apple, Aetna Meeting to Bring Apple Watch to Aetna: Sources]]> Mon, 14 Aug 2017 13:25:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/applewatchcolorful-1200x675.jpg

Apple and Aetna held secret meetings last week to bring Apple's health- and fitness-tracking device, Apple Watch, to Aetna customers, according to three sources who spoke with CNBC. 

Aetna, which covers an estimated 23 million people, is negotiating a deal with Apple to either provide the smartwatch for free or at a discounted rate to its members. 

Recently, Apple has focused on developing new health sensors for people with chronic disease, according to a CNBC report in April.

Apple Watch recently surpassed Fitbit as the top-selling health-tracking device, after shipments reached an estimated 22 million in early 2017. 

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Papayas in 19 States]]> Sat, 12 Aug 2017 16:14:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mango-recall.jpg

The Centers for Disease Control has expanded an investigation into papayas that have caused almost 150 cases of salmonella poisoning.

Forty-five people have been hospitalized and one person from New York City has died. There have been reports of salmonella across 19 different states, most recently in Illinois, Ohio and Texas.

Laboratory tests indicate that Maradol papayas from the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico are the likely source of the multi-state outbreak.

Three papaya brands, Caribeña, Cavi, and Valery, from Mexico have been identified as those produced by this farm.

The CDC recommends that these papayas are not eaten, served or sold.

The Caribeña papayas were recalled on July 26, and can be identified by a red, green and yellow sticker. The Cavi papayas were recalled by the company on Aug. 5, and can be identified by a purple, green and black sticker with the words "Cavi MEXICO 4395" in white. The Valery brand papayas were recalled on Aug. 7, and can be identified by a red, yellow and green sticker with "Valery" in yellow letters.

The 19 impacted states are: Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Photo Credit: FDA]]>
<![CDATA[New Device Offers Hope for People With a Brain Aneurysm]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 21:21:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/179*120/Brain+Photo.JPG

As many as five million Americans have a brain aneurysm; a weakened, enlarged section of blood vessel in the brain, and because there are often no symptoms, many people don’t know they have them until it is too late. Researchers are now testing a minimally-invasive treatment that eliminates the deadly risk of the aneurysm bleeding or bursting.

Kristine Meyer is a busy mother of two. But two years ago, her doctor uncovered something nobody expected.

“The doctor at the time sent me for an MRI and it was in the MRI findings from that they found the aneurysm.” Meyer told Ivanhoe.

Scans showed the aneurysm was two and a half inches behind her nose and right eye.

Meyer continued, “I did not have a lot of options because of the location.”

Neurosurgeon Ricardo Hanel thought Kristine would be a good candidate for a minimally invasive procedure, being tested for the first time on small and medium hard-to-reach aneurysms. It’s called the Pipeline embolism device. Surgeons thread a tiny catheter through the groin or wrist.

“So through that tube I can feed the mesh and carefully push the mesh onto the contour of the vessel.” Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD, a neurovascular surgeon at Baptist Health Jacksonville explained.

The pipeline diverts blood flow away from the aneurysm, allowing the vessel to heal without an invasive brain surgery.

“So once you close the aneurysm you can nicely tell the patient, you’re cured.” Dr. Hanel stated.

“Not having that constant fear and worry is the most amazing thing.” Meyer said.

Kristine Meyer was home the day after the procedure and back to work within two weeks. Researchers tested 140 patients at 22 sites in the US and Canada to see if the Pipeline would be effective on small aneurysms. The study found a high rate of aneurysms were completely healed at the one-year follow-up.

<![CDATA[Looking into the Future: Online Eye Exams]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 10:12:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/MD02F_1200x675_1022508099586.jpg

An online eye exam that you can take on a computer, in the comfort of your home. Seems like the perfect solution for busy people who may not have time to see the eye doctor. Yet, the increasingly popular tests have left many in the medical community skeptical.

<![CDATA[5 Die After Being Fitted With Obesity Devices, FDA Says]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 10:16:20 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cms794.jpg

At least five people have died after receiving gastric balloons to help them lose weight, the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday. 

It’s unclear whether the balloons or the surgery to implant them could have caused the deaths, but the FDA issued an alert to doctors to monitor patients who have the devices, according to NBC News. The balloons are intended to treat severe obesity by reducing how much a person can eat by filling the stomach, closing off part of the stomach or surgically reducing stomach volume.

Two different balloon devices have been involved in reports of the deaths, which came as quickly as a day after surgery: one made by Apollo Endo-Surgery, the other by ReShape.

Apollo said the company has sold 180,000 of Orbera balloon devices worldwide.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File]]>
<![CDATA[Do Breast Implants Cause Lymphoma?]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 03:59:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/breast+implant+cancer.jpg

Four-hundred thousand women every year get breast implants. New numbers from the FDA show an increase in women getting cancer from the implants.

Stacey Boone was trying to boost her self-esteem, and wound up fighting for her life.

"It was for how I wanted to feel about myself," Boone explained.

She had no idea the implants would nearly kill her.

"I came close three different times to dying. It started metastasizing to my bones. It metastasized to my liver," said Boone.

Stacey says doctors determined the plastic from her textured implant caused breast implant- associated lymphoma. The symptoms include lumps or hardening of the implant and fluid behind the implant.

"The symptoms often come on years after the breast implants are surgically placed." said Frederick Locke, MD, a Medical Oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center.

Dr. Locke says recent FDA warnings show there have been 359 breast implant- associated lymphoma cases reported. Nine deaths have been documented.

"When the FDA looked if it was associated with silicone or saline implant there wasn't much of a difference," Dr. Locke said.

But the difference in these cases? Ninety percent had textured implants … just like Stacey. Locke says breast implant- associated lymphoma can affect 1 in 30 thousand women.

Dr. Locke continued, "The risks are very small in developing breast implant associated lymphoma."

But Stacey says for her, that risk was all too real.

Doctors say a test of the fluid behind the implant can detect this kind of cancer. If detected, doctors usually remove the implant. If that doesn't work a new drug called bremtuximab is being used for treatment.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[1 in 3 Cancer Patients Face Unexpected Costs: Study]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 13:34:05 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2017-08-10+at+11.30.52+AM.png

A Duke University study found more than a third of cancer patients with health insurance faced out-of-pocket costs that were more than they expected. Researchers say patients with unexpected costs are less willing to pay for care and may skip or opt out of necessary treatments.

<![CDATA[The Freshman 15 Is a Myth]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 09:19:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/freshman15.jpg

Incoming college students have long feared the freshman 15, the alleged 15 pound weight gain common among first year students. But studies suggest this concept is nothing more than a myth, NBC News reported.

Only 10 percent of students end up gaining 15 pounds or more. Fluctuation in weight is still common for freshmen, but students typically gain an average of 7.5 pounds.

For some students, stress and other factors can actually trigger weight loss. It’s worth noting that the peak age for eating disorders is 18 to 21, right around the time students first enter college.

There are many measures students can take to maintain a healthy weight as they leave home for the first time. Establishing a routine meal schedule and limiting snacking will help make the adjustment easier. Getting a good night’s sleep and working to keep stress levels low will also help.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Why Is It So Cold on Airplanes? Study Answers]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 07:04:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Airplane-GettyImages-86146996.jpg

A recent study reveals the scientific evidence as to why it may be so chilly on airplanes.

According to a Business Insider article, a study by the American Society for Testing and Materials looked into the connection between people fainting while in the air and cabin pressure and temperature.

The study found that people tend to faint more easily while flying due to a medical condition called Hypoxia, where your body tissue suffers from a lack of oxygen. It’s a condition said to be common among airline passengers.

The study also found that high cabin pressure and warm temperatures can further trigger the condition. So to play it safe, the study suggests that airlines keep the temperatures cool to prevent people from fainting while flying in the air.

NBC 5 reached out to some airlines to see if this is how they regulate their cabin temperatures. A Southwest Airlines official released the following statement:

"While we don't have set guidelines for aircraft cabin temperatures, we aim to keep our cabin temperatures comfortable by gauging feedback from our Flight Attendants and Customers during each flight."

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Brand X]]>
<![CDATA[Lawsuit: CVS Charges More for Drugs Paid for With Insurance]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 05:16:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cvsgeneric_1200x675.jpg

A California woman sued CVS Health Corporation Monday, accusing the company of charging customers more when they use insurance to pay for certain generic prescriptions, NBC News reported.

Megan Schultz claims in the lawsuit that she paid $165.68 for a prescription at CVS, America's largest pharmacy chain. Had she bought the same drug without using insurance, she said it would have only cost $92.

"CVS never told her that paying in cash would allow her to pay 45% less for the drug," the complaint says, claiming that the higher costs come from the pharmacy overcharging and remitting the excess payments to its pharmacy benefit manager, which negotiates between the insurance company and pharmacy.

CVS denied the allegations, responding in a statement that they "are built on a false premise and are completely without merit."

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Air Ambulance Ride Leaves Plano Man Buried in Debt]]> Sat, 12 Aug 2017 16:25:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/plano+snake+bite+victim.jpg

Snake bites hurt. Sometimes, so do the medical bills to treat them.

Hugh Sparks, of Plano, was bitten by a rattlesnake in June while on a road trip with his son to see the Alamo 7 Solar Project in Haskell.

The pair snapped photos of several snakes crossing the road.

When they stopped to take a closer look at one Sparks thought was harmless, it bit him.

"It bit me, and I told Briet, I said, 'That was no prairie rat snake.' But the thing did not have rattles," Sparks explained.

Sparks was taken to a hospital in Haskell, given anti-venom and then flown by an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter to another emergency room in Abilene.

Though his injuries may have looked bad at the time, Sparks says the real shock was when he opened his ambulance bill.

The total cost of his air ambulance ride was $43,514 for a 47 miles helicopter ride. His insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, agreed to cover $13,827, leaving Sparks with nearly $30,000 to pay out of pocket.

"Misjudgments happen. This is why we have insurance," he said.

Insurance companies blame air ambulance providers, who, they say, can charge whatever they want because they're unregulated.

Providers point the finger right back, saying insurance reimbursement isn't enough to cover costs.

It leaves patients like Sparks to make up the difference for a potentially life-saving flight that left him buried in debt.

Neither Blue Cross Blue Shield nor Air Evac Lifeteam could comment on Sparks's case. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for Air Evac Lifeteam said, "When Air Evac Lifeteam is called by an EMS provider, first responder or hospital, we do not ask for insurance information before accepting a flight. We provide access to a higher level of care, and the cost to provide that access is 87 percent fixed. The costs include the lease and maintenance of the aircraft, and staffing a base 24 hours a day, seven days a week with professionally trained and credentialed flight nurses, flight paramedics, pilots and mechanics."

Blue Cross Blue Shield suggests someone in Sparks's situation appeal a claim with his insurance company. Air Evac Lifeteam said they also work with patients who qualify for financial help.

Consumers can also file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance.

Most air ambulance companies offer insurance. It costs $65 per household per year.

Photo Credit: Hugh Sparks]]>
<![CDATA[Safer Scrubs Would Repel Patients' Bodily Fluids]]> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 20:14:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lassa+fever.jpg

The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council has announced a partnership that will make for safer experiences in doctor to patient contact.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Americans’ Use of Alcohol Is on the Rise: Study]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 08:36:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_ALCOHOL_INCREASE_080917-150230034019500001.jpg

A new study has found an 11 percent increase in alcohol use among Americans between 2002 and 2012. There was an even bigger jump in high-risk drinking and alcohol-use disorders. Women, older adults and racial minorities were found to have increased their alcohol use and abuse the most.

<![CDATA[City Releases 20M Mosquitoes in Effort to Curb Viruses]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 20:44:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/Fresno_Mosquito_release___5p_08082017.jpg

Could the answer to mosquito-borne viruses be more mosquitoes? There is strategy behind such a plan.

<![CDATA[New Gallbladder Surgery Has Lower Impact, Less Pain]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 16:42:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NEW_gallbladder_surgery__4p_08082017.jpg

A doctor in North Texas is leading the way in fixing a health condition that affects millions of people. Gallstones can be painful, and in many cases removing the gallbladder is the best treatment.

<![CDATA[Opioid Overdoses Have Been Higher Than Thought: Study]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 05:40:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP_17171822298733-hypodermic-needles-syringes-everywhere-.jpg

Deaths from heroin and opioid overdoses may have been underreported by more than 20 percent, according to a new study from the University of Virginia.

Researchers looking into the nation's deadly drug overdose epidemic revisited thousands of death certificates between 2008 and 2014 and found that mortality rates for opioids were 24 percent higher than previously reported, while the mortality rate for heroin was 22 percent higher than previously reported, according to NBC News.

"Opioid mortality rate changes were considerably understated in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey and Arizona," according to the study, published this week in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. "Increases in heroin death rates were understated in most states, and by large amounts in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey, Louisiana and Alabama."

The presidential opioid commission, chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has urged President Donald Trump to "declare a national emergency" to deal with the crisis that, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, killed nearly 35,000 across the United States since 2015.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File]]>
<![CDATA[More Families Are Taking Dairy Out of Their Diets: USDA]]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 22:39:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/88162528-Milk-cow-generic.jpg

For years, dairy has been considered among the healthiest food types we can consume, but according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more and more families are now taking dairy out of their diets.

Is the dairy-free lifestyle good for children?

Anna Taylor, of Frisco, says absolutely.

She says she's always been careful about what she feeds her son, 2-year-old Christian.

"I have an intolerance to lactose and my mother does," Taylor said.

When her son was born with a weakened immune system related to a birth defect, Taylor says she jumped headfirst into research on whether anyone really needs dairy in their diet.

"The research I've done shows it causes inflammation, different allergies. It causes different symptoms like discomfort, bloating, and in some people diarrhea," Taylor said. "It's just not worth it."

"We are the only species of animal that is drinking another animal's milk!" added Taylor, whose research led to her creation of the website OrganicHealthNow.com.

Studies show about 25 percent of American adults don't have enzymes needed breakdown the sugar in milk, making them lactose intolerant or lactose deficient. Some studies say intolerance to lactose is genetic.

According to the USDA, Americans, on average, drink 37 percent less milk today than they did in 1970.

However, doctors say most young children are able to tolerate dairy, as their bodies still have enough enzymes to break down lactose, and some health experts say kids in dairy-free homes are missing out on key nutrition.

Amy Goodson, a registered dietitian who works with the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP)'s Milk Life campaign, says any time you remove a food group from your diet, you remove the main source of nutrients that food group provides.

"So if it's milk, you're looking at calcium and vitamin D," Goodson said.

"The calcium and vitamin D are really the most important part of what we look at, especially with growing kids, because that is going to be what helps them lay down bone," Goodson added. "You only have a certain period of time, really through adolescence and teen years, to lay down all the bone you're ever going to lay down."

She says families should be leery of dairy alternatives.

"That can be a fine beverage choice, but not to be confused that it has the same nutrients, because the nutrients package is different when we compare cow's milk to the other beverages," Goodson said.

Different or not, worldwide sales of non-dairy milk alternatives more than doubled over the last six years, according to market researcher Euromonitor.

Plus, Taylor says she incorporates plenty of other sources of nutrients in her family's diet.

"You have so many vegetables that have calcium. You have fortified orange juice. You have supplements. If you're looking for vitamin D, go outside for 15 minutes!" she said.

She also puts her money where her mouth is by not spending her money at restaurants that don't offer dairy alternatives.

"I feel like that it is ever-growing for a lot families that are on the same mission that we are," Taylor said.

According to the USDA, children 2 to 3 years old need two cups of milk per day, but some pediatric dietitians say it's still possible to meet calcium and vitamin D needs without dairy.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Scientists Develop Wound-Healing Device]]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 18:11:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/wound+healing+device.jpg

Scientists say they have developed and tested a device that rescues injured or failing organs with a single touch.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Parents Balance Toddlers' Touchscreen Time]]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 17:16:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/toddler+screen+time.jpg

The average American two-year-old spends two hours a day in front of a screen, whether it's a television, computer, smartphone or tablet. A new report by experts in early learning says it's not just the amount of screen time, but the way that time is spent that's most important.

Two-year-old Adam Wengraitis is always on the move.

"He is very physical," said Amy Sussman, Adam's mother.

He is also curious about everything he can get his hands on, which is one reason Adam's mom was hesitant, at first, to introduce electronics.

"We were afraid that once it starts he would never want to put the device down, but I can see a lot of benefits," Sussman said.

Rachel Barr, Ph.D., is a Georgetown University developmental psychologist and an expert in learning and memory in young children. She says touchscreens provide significant opportunity for learning.

"We need to help them bring that information into the real world," Barr said.

Barr studied 50 15-month-old infants and their mothers. The moms were given a real object, something like a rattle, and an image of that object on a touchscreen. The moms had five minutes to teach their babies that the toy worked in real life, the same way it worked on the touchscreen tablet.

Barr found that children were 19-times more likely to succeed if an adult was helping them make that connection.

Joscelin Rocha-Hidalgo works on The Early Learning Project with Barr at Georgetown University. Rocha-Hidalgo stressed that it is important to interact with the child using the media.

Barr said that it is important for parents to help their children learn from touchscreens and treat them like books.

"When they are reading books they don't really expect their children to read by themselves and figure out the content by themselves," Barr said.

Barr advises parents to think of the three "C's" when it comes to tablet and other media use: the child's age, the content they are watching and the context. Barr said to help children learn from media share the experience with them.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Running Improves Brain Function: Study]]> Fri, 04 Aug 2017 16:49:03 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/running-brain-study.jpg

Good for your heart. Good for your muscles. But is running good for your brain?

A pair of researchers at the University of Arizona just found that running improves the connectivity of parts of the brain -- parts that lose traction as we get older.

Here is more on a study that may convince you to get you moving.

Gabe Mogollon is a state champion middle school runner in Arizona.

“Each day I just kind of have, like, a mini goal to do whatever during my run. So, when I’m done I feel like I’ve done something for the day,” said Mogollon, who is now in high school.

Gene Alexander and David Raichlen compared MRI’s of 11 collegiate runners and 11 non-runners.

“From looking at these scans, we were able to tell that the endurance athletes who engaged in a lot of physical activity had areas of the brain that were more active and more connected than the non-athletes,” said Gene Alexander, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Arizona.

The red shows more connection between parts of the brain responsible for memory, decision-making and multitasking. The yellow shows the same thing. This could be from increased blood flow or production of factors that help neurons work better and grow.

“What we know right now is that something is better than nothing and it’s more than likely you’re going to get big bang for your buck if you go from very little activity to some activity,” said David Raichlen, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona.

Brain connectivity diminishes as we age and is a factor in diseases like Alzheimer’s. What the researchers learn from young runners now could help aging adults later.

“We’re hoping to find ways in which we can use exercise to improve the brain function structure as we age and provide recommendations and prescriptions for better aging,” Professor Alexander explained.

So even in his teens, Gabe is on the right track.

Increased brain connectivity has also been found in people who do activities using fine motor skills like playing musical instruments. The researchers said running also takes complex thinking, as athletes navigate or plan where to run or how to keep balance.   

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Medical City Arlington Starts Women's Hospital Construction]]> Fri, 04 Aug 2017 15:34:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/medical-city-dallas-091012.jpg

Medical City Arlington will celebrate the start of construction on its $60 million Women's Hospital on Monday. 

The project will add two new floors and 55 beds to Medical City Arlington's existing Women's Center. 

This is part of an ongoing $100 million expansion and renovation plan. 

Construction on the Women's Hospital is expected to end in spring 2019. 

Photo Credit: NBC 5]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers Study Links Between High-Sugar Diets, Depression]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 18:19:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/sugar_teaspoon_generic.jpg

Researchers say they've found a correlation between high sugar intake and depression and mood swings in men.

The study from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London found that men who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar a day are 23-percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety over five-year period.

In the study, researchers tracked the diets and medical conditions of 8,000 people over 22 years and found the link between sugar intake and depression only in men — not women.

They theorize that high-sugar diets can produce proteins that might aid the development of depression.

Also, they say, high-sugar diets can cause inflammation, which can bring on mood swings.

"When you look at the baggie, that's a lot of sugar. That's almost 17 tablespoons of sugar, " said registered dietitian Amy Goodson, who says it's the equivalent of a single 20-ounce bottle of Coke or three candy bars.

Add that to the hidden sugars we eat, and she says, it adds up fast.

"They might be in your breakfast cereal, a granola bar, your favorite coffee drink or in your local smoothie or natural juice that you're drinking," Goodson said.

The World Health Organization says you should reduce your daily intake of added sugars to less than five percent of your diet.

Goodson says the more you fill yourself up with wholesome food, the less likely you are to reach for that extra doughnut.

"The more that you focus on eating fresh food — so fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, things of that nature — you're not as likely to consume as many added sugar calories," she said.

Photo Credit: ullstein bild via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amrita Protein Bars Recalled for Listeria Risk]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 05:43:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/necn+recall+generic.jpg

A brand of protein bars has been recalled by its manufacturer because it may be contaminated with listeria.

Amrita Health Foods, which is based in Pleasantville, New York, voluntarily recalled a limited number of Amrita Bars after a supplier reported that sunflower seeds and sunflowers seed butter sold to the company could be contaminated.

The recalled Amrita Bar were distributed to retail stores across the country. The following products have been recalled:

  • Amrita Chocolate Maca Bar, 60g (UPC 853009004056) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Dark Chocolate Quinoa, 60g (UPC 853009004438) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Sunflower Seed Butter, 60g (UPC 853009004414) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Chocolate Chip Coconut, 50g (UPC 853009004391) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Mango Coconut, 50g (UPC 853009004018) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Apricot Strawberry, 50g (UPC 853009004056) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Pineapple Chia, 50g (UPC 853009004025) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Apple Cinnamon, 50g (UPC 853009004049) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Cranberry Raisin, 50g (UPC 853009004032): Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious infections in young children, the elderly, and anyone with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, nausea and diarrhea.

Anyone with questions about the recall can call Amrita Health Foods Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4p.m. at 1-888-728-7779. Or click here for more information.  

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Transgender Medical Center Opens For Kids]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 07:53:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/NC_transgenderclinic0802_1500x845.jpg

Transgender kids in the St. Louis, Missouri, area now have somewhere to go for medical care and counseling. A transgender medical center opened Tuesday, and it's the first of its kind in the region. The medical facility is expected to help hundreds of children and their families throughout the region with comprehensive health care.

<![CDATA[What is an Air Quality Alert?]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 08:02:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/air-quality-alert.jpg

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has issued
an Ozone Action Day, also known as an Air Quality Alert, for the Dallas-Fort Worth area Thursday.

Air Quality Alerts were designed by the government to communicate to the public on how much pollution there is in the low levels of our atmosphere, the air we breathe. They are common across North Texas this time of year.

An Air Quality Alert is issued when there is a high level of pollutants, such as ozone, near the surface that can potentially affect your health. Ozone at the surface is harmful to your lungs and health and breathing it can trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory issues. The elderly and very young are most at risk.

Ozone in the upper levels of our atmosphere helps protect us from harmful rays from the sun. This is the good ozone.

Pollution from ozone occurs when oxide nitrogen gasses and chemical reactions from volatile organic compounds mix together. Sunlight and heat help to combine oxide nitrogen gasses and volatile organic compounds together forming smog. Cars, trucks and factories are all big contributors to ozone pollution.

You can do your part in preventing pollution by carpooling, walking, riding a bicycle, taking your lunch to work, avoiding drive-through lanes, conserving energy and keeping your vehicle properly tuned.

<![CDATA[Dallas County Health Officials Monitor Possible Zika Cases]]> Wed, 02 Aug 2017 22:42:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Mosquito-AP_750626106311.jpg

In its latest update, Dallas County Health and Human Services says it is monitoring 13 cases involving either pregnant mothers or infants for possible Zika infection.

"I'm not surprised at all," said Dr. Sheila Chhutani, of Gyn/Ob Associates and Texas Health Dallas. "I think it's just a matter of time before we see Zika possibly being transmitted here."

The U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry is a long-term tracking effort to better understand the impacts of the virus. In Texas, 221 pregnant women were being tracked for possible Zika exposure, all travel related. Fifteen of those women gave birth to infants with birth defects consistent with the Zika virus.

Last week Texas had its first case of local Zika transmission in the Rio Grande Valley. So far, the possible cases locally have been travel related.

"I think that the city of Dallas is doing its job in terms of trying to track mosquitoes," Chhutani said.

But it's not just a government issue.

"People don't see it as affecting them until it does," she said.

"It just rained today. Let's make sure we don't have rain water sitting outside, making a home for mosquitoes to develop," Chhutani pointed out Wednesday evening. "It's not something we do once and we stop. It's an ongoing process. It's an ongoing threat, and it's going to continue."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trampolines Are Among the Most Dangerous Rec Activities]]> Wed, 02 Aug 2017 20:33:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Trampoline_Safety_4p_080217.jpg

Trampolines seem like fun, but every year they result in 100,000 emergency room visits nationwide, according to pediatricians.

<![CDATA[Eating at Wrong Time Can Hinder Diet, Good News About Zika]]> Wed, 02 Aug 2017 18:05:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Health_Headlines_5p_080217.jpg

Researchers say eating at the wrong time of day can affect weight loss. And some good news about Zika - it's unlikely the virus will be spread by kissing.