Health Matters

Saturdays @ 10AM and Sundays @ 6AM

Health Matters is a hour-long program that focuses on the health care needs of the mountain region. The weekly program is a co-production of Morehead State Public Radio and the Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center. AHEC offices are located at the Saint Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Ashland. Host Tony Weaver, a practicing physician in Rowan County, and his team of health experts interview guests and discuss health issues like obesity, tobacco use, heart disease, exercise and other topics concerning the well being of eastern Kentuckians.

Health Matters won the 2013 American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons media award!
Credit MSU

The new year arrives with events that defy logic – the Charlie Hebdo massacre, tanning bed injuries, Tony injures his ankle – and Health Matters struggles to make sense of it all.  This wide-ranging show covers Dr. Oz, new obesity drugs, e-cigarettes, and the sensible use of cholesterol medicine, while trying to maintain hope that the year is still salvageable.

“Good widdance to bad Wubbish”—Elmer Fudd

Health Matters feigns a fond farewell to 2014 by comparing the top headlines for the year from Medscape to our 2014 show topics. It’s a relatively painless way to review the year, and helps lower your expectations for 2015.


Time magazine health headlines for 2014

Medscape health headlines for 2014

Let’s face it – if you live in Kentucky, you’re more likely to see drizzle than snow on Christmas. There are other situations where reality is a little less than ideal, as well. We talk about flu vaccines, the real virus threatening southeastern America, the problems with narcotics and the end with our salute to the Time Magazine Persons of the Year.

We start with the raging controversy over how to dry your hands in the bathroom. Rick and I give our thoughts on the worst office healtlh habits. But the star of the show is the exciting changes we see in routine office visits. They’re going to be more convenient, easier to schedule, more focused, and not necessarily in person. Enjoy the show, and we will explain what we mean.

Health Matters salutes hemoglobin, the chemical on your red blood cells that carries oxygen, but also colors your skin, your stool, and your urine. The show is about the risks of deer hunting, the healthiest choice for drinking, toy injuries, and the annual state health rankings, that show Kentucky dropping to number 47 nationally. Enjoy Christmas! We’ll try to find something happier next week.

The Christmas Holiday Shopping Companion Part II Show

Health Matters Holiday Shopping Companion


Our salute to the late Car Talk cohost Tom Magliozzi includes some treats for my cohost, including a paper on smart phones and childhood injuries, a "Top 9 Fun Facts about ACA Open Enrollment" and Homeland Security's efforts to prevent someone from hacking into your pacemaker.

Tip: Open enrollment for 2015 insurance exchange plans is from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. Make sure you have insurance for next year by signing up before December 15.


Health Matters, at times, can strain credulity. Crash dieting leads to the same sustainable weight loss as control dieting? True. For women, each daily glass of milk increases risk of death from all causes by 15%? Probably false. We also talk about type I diabetes, celiac disease and the importance of your approach to chocolate cake.  EKU dietetic intern Andrea Danley and St. Claire Clinical Nutrition Services Manager Jean Jones are guests.

Tip: Milk is supposed to do a body good, but coffee has all the numbers. Consider the health implications of your favorite beverage.

Bowling for Ebola Show

Nov 13, 2014

Health Matters issues our take of the 2014 Ebola panic, in which 80% of American voters favored quarantines for healthcare workers, despite the fact that there was no known benefit. Add that to the 64% of people who don’t get the flu vaccine, and the 1-6% of people who will not even vaccinate their children, and this is why we stay on the air despite bad journalism. We also talk about drunken bicycling, chikungunya virus, and safe bowling practices.

Ebola Czar show

Nov 5, 2014

Ebola is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The word, “Czar” is an abbreviation of Caesar, taken by Eastern European rulers, including Ivan the Terrible. Richard Nixon used the term for a government official in charge of all things pertaining to one government function, a position he likened to Albert Speer’s in Nazi Germany. From these despicable origins, we now have a Czar in charge of Ebola. We will talk about Ebola plus toothbrushes and pneumonia vaccines on this show.

Around Halloween, we at Health Matters like to amp up your anxiety with horrifying medical stories. This year, your anxiety is high enough, so were taking a more laid-back approach. This is a show about scary movies, dying before you get old, snakes, and severed fingers. Mellow out with us this Halloween.

Tip: Both the CDC and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend that all pregnant women receive influenza vaccine. You can be vaccinated anytime during pregnancy.


Tag I’m It Show

Oct 21, 2014

“Tag I’m It” originally stood for “There’s a Grenade in My Inner Thigh”. It became obvious we should make some comments about Ebola, so it acquired a second meaning for the rest of the show. This is a show about hand grenades, deadly viruses, marketing junk food to kids, and finally shutting down one of the nastiest cholesterol drugs ever used.

Tip: The CDC says everyone. Everyone. EVERYONE over six months of age should receive influenza vaccine, with very few exceptions.


Claire Snell-Rood show

Oct 15, 2014

Dr. Snell-Rood is an anthropologist, who researches rural and impoverished populations. She is especially interested in how attitude and culture affects health care decisions. Join us for her insights into mental health services access in Eastern Kentucky.

Tip: diagnosing a major depression requires more than two weeks depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities. There are nine specific symptoms we look for, including weight change, sleep changes, activity changes, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and difficulty concentrating.


Don’t read too much into the title of this show. I am speaking metaphorically concerning the… okay, I ran into a big nest, a “mite island” of chiggers this weekend and I got them on my mind. We also talk about keeping your electronic health records safe, messing with your brain to adjust your appetite, and new drug approvals from the FDA. Things will be better next week. We promise.

Tip:  Chiggers are a cousin of ticks, and prevention is the same. Mow the grass close, use DEET for skin and permethrin for clothing, and change clothes immediately after exposure.


Western medicine is fairly good at treating physiologic problems and risk factors with pills. We don’t have effective methods to manage stress and we make bad choices in our lifestyle. Linda Smith-Dike is a nurse practitioner who embraces and teaches meditation and yoga as a method of stress management. Listen to her story this week.

Tip: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis affects between 150 and 300 Kentuckians, and probably 30 Kentuckians die of this disease every year.


This annual campaign for autumnal perpendicularity, sponsored by “Shoes with Tread”, brings you the latest research in foot gear, exercise programs, technology, and environment and behavior modification designed to keep us upright and in our homes this fall. Try not to be intimidated by the glitz and glamour, and focus on the content.

Tip: There is a consensus that shoes are better than sock feet, that low heels are better than high heels, and that firmer soles with tread provide the best option for people at risk for falling.


Dr. Hatim Omar Show

Sep 19, 2014

Dr. Omar has developed a successful suicide intervention program at the University of Kentucky by targeting all aspects of a teenager’s life, not just the suicide. This very opinionated guest feels that interventions that just target drunken-driving, teenage pregnancy, etc. will fail in the long term because they do not address the underlying issues that lead to the behavior. It makes for a very interesting conversation, and a better-than-average show.

This show starts off with a huge tactical error, as we try to reproduce a Monty Python skit explaining how seals carried tuberculosis to the New World. We try to salvage the show, giving tips for maintaining functional independence, and the latest information on the benefits and harms of marijuana, but you get the sense that this show just never recovers. A very enjoyable show; somewhat like watching a car crash.

Tip: no one wants to be placed in a nursing home, but there are practical things you can do to improve your chances of staying independent.


eHarmony Show

Sep 5, 2014

The chemistry is unmistakable as we salute eHarmony, which is about to launch a career platform, to match employees and jobs, in December. We have information on the 100 bites a day diet, cancer screening, and our Health Matters Obamacare quiz.

Tip: Sugary drinks, whether sodas or sports drinks, all contain too much sugar. Water is an excellent way to stay hydrated.


The Washington Post on eHarmony

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes Show

Aug 22, 2014

Finally, our radio fans can see our problems in stark contrast: Rick has “football brain”, while Tony was poisoned by tobacco farming as a teenager. This show looks at changing attitudes and changing technology in the US healthcare system.

Tip: increasing insurance coverage will put a strain on the nation’s primary care physicians, which will worsen over time. Develop a relationship with your healthcare provider, and find a person with whom you feel comfortable.


Under the Dumb Show

Aug 13, 2014

Kentuckians: trapped “under the dumb”, unable to chart a course that will lead to better health and better lives. Health Matters has some very stupid suggestions, as well as info on blood pressure measurement, burning mustaches, and “negative” tattoos.

Tip: get the right size blood pressure cuff, and don’t take your blood pressure through your shirt sleeve. Make sure your blood pressure measurement is accurate.


Virginia Schutte recently received her PhD in Marine Ecology from the University of Georgia. She is also my daughter. As Dr. Schutte says, “I am an ecologist for selfish reasons. I want to protect the systems that protect us.” We talk about ecology and health, and health issues for travelers to Central America.

Tip: Chikungunya virus will force us to make changes. Half a million cases are reported in the Caribbean, and the virus has now made it to Florida. We expect it to spread through the deep South in the next few years. Learn to prevent mosquito bites.


We are aware that catastrophic usually means “causing great suffering”, or “extremely unsuccessful”. However, we choose the healthcare.gov definition of catastrophic, meaning “high deductible”. This show brings you the basic health information at a very low cost, similar to the catastrophic plans featured on the health exchange. We talk about exploding inhalers, patients who catch fire, rashes from your iPad, the dangers of surgical technology, and government investigation of the price of the new hepatitis C drug.

Morehead Honcho Show

Jul 22, 2014

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, will visit the Morehead Conference Center from 10 AM-2 PM on Wednesday, August 6. Health Matters celebrates his visit with a show about beer bellies, Alzheimer’s dementia, mosquitoes, and narcotic drugs.

Tip: Mosquitoes are attracted to heat, exhaled breath, and smell. Candles, dark clothing, and noisemakers that clip to your belt are not a reliable way to prevent mosquito bites.


Health Matters salutes Dr. Mehmet Oz this week with a look at several examples of unethical doctors, and some very unusual medical research news. We cover Dr. Oz’s recent appearance in front of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance; as well as vaccinations to prevent diabetes and the effect of sleep on your GPA.

Tip: There are now two powerful acid blocking medicines available over-the-counter, Nexium 24 HR, and Prilosec. They work best if you take them on an empty stomach, but immediately before a meal.

“The Voice” show

Jul 15, 2014

#546 Show Summary (“The Voice” show):

We welcome Colleen McMullen from the University of Kentucky Department of physiology, and UK speech pathologist Vrushali Angadi for a discussion of laryngeal aging, speech therapy in head and neck cancers, and the special appeal of buttered sweetcorn.

Tip: if you are age 60-85, a non-smoker, and are interested in participating invoice research, contact Colleen McMullen at 859-323-9443, or email cmcmu2@uky.edu. they are looking for study participants with and without voice problems.


Prompted by the Time magazine cover “Is He Worth It?”, Health Matters looks at the dangerous ethics of deciding who is “worth it”. Who costs society more, the young person who foolishly loses his life, or the person who wisely lives to extreme old age? Do we really want to abandon any of these people? Sorry to be so deep. We also got information on sleeping with your pets and over-the-counter erection drugs.

Pun in the Sun Show

Jun 25, 2014

#547 Show Summary (Pun in the Sun Show):

Broadcasting from the ninth most corrupt state in the country, health matters ponders the link between corruption and life expectancy, the absolute chaos regarding medical marijuana, and how to avoid melanoma this summer. It’s not terribly funny, it’s not terribly punny, it’s Health Matters!

Tip: Having 5 or more blistering sunburns before age 20, according to the Nurses Health Study, is associated with an 80% higher risk of melanoma.


Modern Times Show

Jun 18, 2014

#545 show summary (Modern Times Show):

From bouncy houses to tanning beds to sugary soft drinks, the joys of our youth are killing us. It appears that the only safe thing we can turn to in 2014 is marijuana. We at Health Matters are every bit as confused as you are, but we have a radio show so we will give you the answers.

Tip: Put your daughter’s hair up before she go swimming. Long flowing hair can get caught in hazards and increases the risk of drowning.