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The Berlin Heart Device Wins FDA Approval, Finally — This Week on Sound Medicine

March 8, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- Pediatric heart surgeon Mark Turrentine and his patient Bailey Hunsberger discuss the benefits of the Berlin Heart pump, a life-saving device recently approved by the FDA. Dr. Turrentine directs pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

Sound Medicine airs at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 11, on WFYI, 90.1 FM. For the airtime on a public radio station near you, check the Sound Medicine website

Bailey Hunsberger and the Berlin Heart. The FDA recently approved the Berlin Heart, a mechanical pump for children with severe heart failure. The implanted device temporarily takes over the heart’s function, typically until the child receives a transplant.  A team from Riley at IU Health in Indianapolis, which has been using the device for a decade, played a key role in the approval process. On this week’s show, we learn about the device from pioneering pediatric heart surgeon Mark Turrentine and one of his patients, Bailey Hunsberger, now a sophomore at Indiana University. Dr. Turrentine is professor of surgery at the IU School of Medicine.

Helping babies breathe. Breathing is one thing babies know how to do. But their tiny heads often get congested. This week, Sound Medicine’s Kathy Miller, M.D., interviews pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist Nina Shapiro, who advises parents on ways to keep little ones’ nasal passages clear. Dr. Shapiro is head of pediatric otolaryngology at UCLA. She’s recently written a book about kids and breathing called Take a Deep Breath.

Parents: No TV for infants. Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics affirmed an earlier conclusion: Kids younger than 2 don’t benefit, and could even be harmed, by watching video. Molecular biologist John Medina, author of Brain Rules for Baby, agrees. He explains why to Sound Medicine’s Dr. Kathy Miller.

Preventive checkups good for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of all medical care in the U.S. is done by specialists, surgeons and ER doctors. In other words, many Americans wait until there’s an emergency to see a doctor instead of getting regular checkups. That makes no sense to Sound Medicine contributor and family physician Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber. She explains how preventive care visits benefit patients. Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber also is executive director of the IU National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health.

Research: Preventive care is not cost-effective. But does preventive care save money? Health care economist Louise Russell, Ph.D., explains research data that shows only 20 percent of common preventive treatments are cost-effective. In short, many interventions — including colonoscopies, mammograms and weight-loss programs — add more to medical spending than they save. Dr. Russell shares her surprising findings with Sound Medicine’s David Crabb, M.D. Russell is a research professor in health economics at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University. She co-chaired the U.S. Public Health Service Panel on Cost-Effectiveness in Health and Medicine.

Also this week: In the Sound Medicine Checkup, a funky but effective way to stop a bloody nose, and in the Did You Know? feature, long work hours may lead to depression.

Sound Medicine is an award-winning radio program co-produced by the Indiana University School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio (90.1 FM). Sound Medicine is underwritten by Indiana University Health Physicians and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
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