Health

Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Heart trouble in your future?

A prominent cardiologist calls it “one of the worst examples of medicine gone wild.” Other physicians say it is a useful tool when used in the right patient for the right reason. Still others think it’s somewhat underutilized in healthcare.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

More than skin deep

As a teen growing up in Mt. Washington, Jessica Vega Rogowicz remembers her dad being diagnosed with skin cancer. He went to the doctor to have it removed and came home with a Band-​Aid on his nose. Because he had basal cell carcinoma, which rarely spreads beyond the skin, that…

Robotics has changed surgery forever

During the first 8,500-year history of surgery, surgeons stood at the patient’s side using tools that evolved from knapped flints to tiny, high-​tech cameras. But, in 2000, when the da Vinci Surgical System was cleared by the FDA, surgery changed forever. Surgeons could now sit several feet away from their…

Laugh out loud

David Russell isn’t a stand-​up comedian. But without much effort, he regularly gets a room full of people laughing for a good 20 minutes or so. Russell is among a handful of certified laughter yoga leaders in the Pittsburgh area. A laugh is often the response he gets when he…

Catching the Fall

A broken bone early in life is typically painful and a nuisance. Late in life, it can be devastating. “Among the elderly, bone fractures — particularly in the hip, wrist and back — can lead to long-​term disability and death,” says Jane Cauley, professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of…

The Cholesterol Conundrum

Cholesterol was first discovered in 1769, but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that scientists linked these oily molecules in our blood to atherosclerosis — when artery walls become thick with plaque, potentially triggering a heart attack or stroke. Since then, many have devoted their lives to understanding cholesterol. It’s a…

Insurance innovations

Ask someone about their health insurance plan and you wouldn’t expect to hear, “I’m having a great experience.” Health insurance is expensive and difficult to understand. And in the Pittsburgh region, many have, not surprisingly, grown tired of the very public battle between the area’s largest insurer and largest provider — Highmark…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Genomic Stimulus

Not long ago, one of the nation’s most dreaded diseases was polio, paralyzing and sometimes killing its victims. Fortunately, polio proved no match for medicine. Just as polio reached its peak in 1952 with 57,000 new cases, a University of Pittsburgh team, led by Dr. Jonas Salk, was testing a…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

DNA decoding

Mapping the entire human DNA blueprint was ultimately done to advance medicine, but it has had a bonus impact: giving a jump start to a stagnating economy.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Healthful discoveries

We brush to stave off cavities and bad breath. But it may even help us avoid major diseases. Research shows that the plaque build-​up in our mouths may contribute to plaque build-​up in our brains and heart arteries.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Shall we dance?

Don Shepherd may have stumbled upon the closest thing to the fountain of youth. While millions of Americans — and Steelers fans — tuned in to watch Hines Ward glide and smile his way across the dance floor in “Dancing with the Stars,” Shepherd was leading his own dance partner.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

The Pittsburgh project

The year is 2020. You’re driving home from work, listening to your favorite satellite radio station. An announcer interrupts with breaking news: Smallpox has broken out in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of patients are flooding hospitals, with untold more infected. The public is panicked. Local officials are scrambling to maintain control.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Dr. D.A. Henderson

There are a lot of reasons why people believe Dr. D.A. Henderson was the best person to lead the successful effort to eradicate smallpox from the planet in the 1960s and 1970s. Usually they revolve around his intellect (unquestionably world class), his training (schooled in “shoe leather epidemiology” by his…
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

Moving beyond Mayview

When the state Department of Welfare announced last year that it would close Mayview State Hospital by Dec. 31, 2008, officials explained what would happen to the remaining 200 patients and said the closure would allow patients to receive community-​based care.
Pittsburgh Quarterly Exclusive

A long commute

Amadeo Marcos was the first surgeon to take a piece of liver from a healthy living donor and successfully transplant it into an unrelated critically ill patient. In the nine years since, he’s done more of these complex surgeries than anyone. Topping his vitae is his current position, chief of…
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