Appalachia Health News

Appalachia Health News' goal is to increase awareness of health issues throughout the region. 

Kara Leigh Lofton

Reporter Kara Leigh Lofton will be covering topics such as women’s health, chronic disease and substance abuse.

Her reports will document the health-related innovation, improvement and success within the Appalachian region.

Follow her on twitter at @KaraLofton and #Appalachiahealth

Appalachia Health News is produced with support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, CAMC, and WVU Medicine.

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If you are an early riser, you may have a leg up on fighting weight gain and obesity. New research published this month in the journal Obesity found that as a group, “morning type” people eat earlier in the day and are choosing healthier foods overall than “evening type” people. For reference – morning types are those who are most alert and energetic in the morning while evening types are most alert and energetic later in the day. Other studies have found that eating earlier in the day is associated with weight loss and a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease.

 

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Rural Appalachia has some of the highest cancer mortality rates in the country -- up to 36 percent higher than what is seen elsewhere. The culprit? That’s a multi-fold answer. Kara Lofton talked about cancer rates in Appalachia with freelance reporter Lyndsey Gilpin, who wrote a story addressing the discrepancy. Data journalism website FiveThirtyEight published the story earlier this month.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, cancer mortality rates are higher in rural Appalachia than in other parts of the country.  Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton looks into that and deputies in Monongalia County are using body cameras for the first time.  Anne Li will have the details.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

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West Virginia University is offering tuition incentives in hopes of increasing the number of highly trained nurses in the state and beyond.

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Most Americans say they want to die at home. But without the right paperwork, many end up living out their final days in institutions or hospitals. The West Virginia e-Directive Registry is trying to change that.

The e-Directive Registry includes advanced directives, living wills, medical orders and Do Not Resuscitate cards. These documents help medical providers understand West Virginians’ end-of-life wishes, including where participants want to die and what kind of treatment they want in their last days of life. 

Jessica Lilly

The coal industry has done a lot for central Appalachia. It’s created jobs, and it’s helped many families afford college. Coal has also created a  very strong sense of pride. But as jobs in the coal industry have declined, so have the opportunities in Central  Appalachia. On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we explore one of the legacies of of the industry: crumbling water infrastructure.

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Although Congress hasn't presented the American public with a clear replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act – the ideas proposed so far are unlikely to make coverage more affordable or allow everyone who has coverage now to keep it. Uncertainty surrounding the ACA is also making it difficult for health plans to stay in the marketplace because they don’t know how to price their plans for next year.

But as members of Congress left Washington today for their February recess, Republicans made it clear they still intend to repeal the ACA.

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If you have a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield plan that you bought through the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces, you should know there is a change this year that might save you some money.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, the latest news from the West Virginia Legislature and Appalachian Health News reporter Kara Lofton talks with president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield about a change in their hospital policies.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

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Low birth weight is traditionally associated with physical problems such as difficulty breathing, developmental delays or hearing problems in children as they grow. But new research published in the journal Psychological Bulletin found that babies born with extremely low birth weights are at an increased risk for specific mental health problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder, anxiety, depression and shyness, beginning in childhood and extending at least into their 30s.

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Most Americans say they want to die at home when the time comes. But a new study suggests that the more obese someone is, the less likely they are to achieve that goal.

The study was published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine and looked at the records of more than 5,600 senior citizens taking part in a long-term health study. The researchers looked at how body mass index – a measure of obesity – impacted use of and access to end-of-life services like hospice. hospice provides support to people in their final months of life – usually in their own home.

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Studies have found that strengthening the quadriceps – or thigh muscles – may help prevent knee osteoarthritis. But a new study has found that how fast the quadricep muscle is able to generate force – for example pushing the leg out – may impact knee osteoarthritis too.

More than a third of West Virginian adults report experiencing arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Evzio Naloxone Auto-injector
Clark Davis / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The Department of Health and Human Resources has begun a distributing naloxone statewide in hopes of preventing opioid overdose deaths and increasing access to the medication.

 

Born Addicted: The Race To Treat The Ohio Valley’s Drug-Affected Babies

Feb 4, 2017
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She asked to not be identified. And it’s understandable given the stigma attached to addiction. For this story, we’ll call her “Mary.”

Mary lives in eastern Kentucky and has struggled with an addiction that began with painkillers and progressed to heroin.

“As soon as I opened my eyes, I had to get it,” Mary said. “And even when I did get it, then I had to think of the next way that I was going to get.”

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A new study has found that couples in which both partners are obese may take more than 50 percent longer to become pregnant than couples who aren't obese.

Last week, doctors at Mon General Hospital performed a new hybrid procedure to correct irregular heartbeats – called atrial fibrillation – in a 71-year old patient. The surgery was the first of its kind performed in West Virginia.

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Today is the last day to enroll in or change a 2017 insurance plan through the federal healthcare marketplace. But if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, this may be the last time people can sign up for insurance through the marketplace.

In 2016, more than 37,000 West Virginians signed up for health insurance through the ACA marketplaces. Nationwide, enrollment numbers for 2017 are up slightly from 2016 numbers – despite promises from President Trump to repeal the healthcare law.

Patricia Harman is the author of the bestselling novel The Midwife of Hope River. We last heard from her during our April, 2016 Inside Appalachia episode on home birth. Harman's latest book – the Runaway Midwife – was released today. Kara Lofton talked with Harman about how more than three decades of work as a midwife informs her writing today.  

On Being a Midwife

"One of the things about midwives is similar to a solider or someone in combat we're right on the border between life and death and I think that makes for a great hero."

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A CDC study released earlier this month found that rural Americans are dying at a higher rate from potentially preventable diseases than their urban counterpoints.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study looked at the five leading causes of death from potentially preventable diseases. They are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke. The study found that the percentages of deaths from these five diseases were higher in rural areas than urban areas.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

President Trump is four days into his first term and already has made big moves to repeal former President Obama’s signature healthcare law. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act – also called Obamacare - has the potential to affect millions of Americans. In this audio postcard, three West Virginians – a former chair of the House health committee, a college student and a small business owner – talk about how they are feeling about their healthcare coming into an era of Trump.

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