health

Every night at 8 p.m., 18-year-old Catherine Msimango takes a pill.

It's the same pill that people with HIV take to fight the virus. Only she doesn't have HIV.

Msimango says the pill gives her power against the virus. She can take it even without her boyfriend knowing.

"It's all about my safety because I don't know what he does when I'm not around," she says. "If he doesn't want to use protection [a condom], I know that I'm safe from the pill."

Patients may go to rehabilitation hospitals to recover from a stroke, injury or recent surgery. But sometimes the care makes things worse.

In a government report published Thursday, 29 percent of patients in rehab facilities suffered a medication error, bedsore, infection or some other type of harm as a result of the care they received.

Medical residents Bryn Chowchuvech, Bari Laskow and Stephanie Ngo discuss strategy for making their spaghetti dish.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

You don’t expect to see doctors in a kitchen.

Normally you’d find newly minted doctors at Swedish Cherry Hill hospital seeing patients. Instead, a group of them is spending an afternoon chopping onions, red bell peppers and mushrooms under the instruction of Dr. Tanmeet Sethi.


Caleb Banta-Green is a UW professor and a member of the King County heroin and prescription opiate task force.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Kim Malcolm talks with University of Washington professor Caleb Banta-Green about a report on 2015 drug trends in King County. It finds heroin overdoses have declined from 2014. Banta-Green is a senior research scientist at the UW's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

Ashley Hempelmann says a safe space to use drugs could've helped her.
KUOW Photo/Kim Malcolm

Kim Malcolm talks with Patricia Sully, coordinator for VOCAL-WA, about why she's advocating for supervised consumption sites for drug users in King County. She says that drug consumption is already happening in your backyard and that these sites aren't meant to encourage drug use, but support people along a continuum of care. 

If you're a taxpayer, you're in on this system.

We — the U.S. taxpayers — help subsidize farmers by paying part of the premiums on their crop insurance. This helps ensure that farmers don't go belly up, and also protects against food shortages.

Stress has long been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a number of mental health problems.

When Mario Oikonomides was 38 years old he had a massive heart attack. About a month later, after he'd recuperated from the emergency, his doctors sent him to a cardiac rehabilitation program where he learned about the role physical activity can play in reducing cardiac risk.

Does hope actually motivate us to change? A listener sent in this question, and we thought we would explore the answer.

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke talk about how effective hope is when we want change.


Adult stem cells may skirt the pesky theological issues raised by embryonic stem cell research, but their unregulated marketplace is raising ethical issues of its own.

A study released at the end of last month found hundreds of clinics across the country that are marketing “unapproved” stem-cell therapies directly to patients.


Local Veterans Affairs officials met with reporters this week to talk about some of the steps they're taking to improve accessibility and quality of care for veterans. 

One of the Seattle VA's new initiatives is to help veterans deal with chronic pain -- a problem that can often lead to opiate dependence and addiction. Another critical initiative addresses the 11 percent growth in VA Puget Sound's patient load. 


Editor's note: This story contains language that some may find offensive.

The Blerch is a sort of life-coach spirit animal coaxing comic artist Matthew Inman to lace up and go running.
The Oatmeal/Matthew Inman (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running)

Our daily lives can sometimes feel like an overwhelming monster. Some days we beat the monster and we feel on top of the world. Other days, we don't.

Local comic artist and creator of The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman, conjured up what his monster looks like: a creature called “The Blerch” that's constantly chasing after him. The Blerch is a key character in his book, “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances."


Naloxone Syringe
Flickr Photo/VCU CNS (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/r3Msnd

Heroin addiction has no boundaries. Deaths from overdoses have gone up across Washington state, but in Snohomish County, the rates have gone up more than in King or Pierce Counties.

The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

The bill, which had previously passed the House, will now be sent to President Obama. He has indicated that he will sign it, despite concerns that it doesn't provide enough funding.

Pages