Anxiety may raise stroke risk

The more prone you are to feeling anxious, the greater your risk for stroke, according to a study in the journal Stroke.

The study found that a high level of anxiety is an independent risk factor for a stroke—just like high blood pressure or smoking.

“Everyone has some anxiety now and then. But when it’s elevated and/or chronic, it may have an effect on your [blood vessels] years down the road,” said lead author Maya Lambiase, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

About the study

The study involved 6,019 people who were age 25 to 74 when they took part in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during the early to mid-1970s.

Researchers followed the people for an average of about 16 years, using the information gathered during NHANES as a baseline. That data included an interview, a physical examination and blood tests for each person.

The participants completed psychological questionnaires designed to gauge both their level of anxiety and depression. They were asked questions such as “Have you ever been anxious, worried or upset?” and “How relaxed or tense have you been?”

Using hospital reports and other medical records, the researchers discovered that 419 people had strokes over the ensuing years.

After analyzing all the data, the researchers found that:

  • Higher levels of anxiety were associated with a higher risk of stroke
  • The people with the highest levels of anxiety were 33 percent more likely to have a stroke compared to those with the lowest levels
  • Even slight increases in anxiety raised the risk of a stroke

The analysis found that adults who were anxious also were more likely to smoke and lead sedentary (not physically active) lives. Smoking and inactivity are known risk factors for stroke, which could partly explain the stroke-anxiety link.

Still, even after researchers adjusted their findings to account for those two behaviors, anxiety remained an independent risk factor for stroke. That was also true after adjusting for depression and other standard risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Researchers speculated that anxiety might play a role in stroke because being tense raises blood pressure, increases levels of stress hormones and speeds up heart rate. Anxiety also might contribute to arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), which can make someone more susceptible to stroke.

Take-home message
If you are an anxious person, talk about it with your doctor—especially if you smoke, aren’t physically active or have other risk factors for stroke. Find out what those are, and assess your risk for stroke, here.



If you think someone may be having a stroke, act FAST and do this simple test:

  • Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are his or her words slurred?
  • Time. If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important. Call 911 immediately.

Coping with cancer during the holidays

The holidays are about family, friends, traditions, food, good will, spirituality and other joys. But having cancer can mean that you’re physically and emotionally not up to the rush, pressure and schedule you’d normally embrace.

The holidays can be both a joyous and hectic time. But when you have cancer, the joys of the season may be bittersweet, and the stress of the season may be especially difficult to handle.

Still, the holidays can—and should—be a special time for people who have cancer.

Here are some tips for maintaining perspective and balance this holiday season from the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Society of Clinical Oncology and CancerCare, all organizations that help people with cancer.

Connect with loved ones. Even if you feel isolated and anxious because of your cancer and treatment, it’s important during the holidays to search for ways—big or small—to share the true meaning of the season with others. For example, a single small dinner party or concert can be filled with spirit-lifting love and fellowship.

“We know that social networks are an important component to coping with cancer,” says Kevin Stein, PhD, managing director of the Behavioral Research Center at the ACS. “The holidays are a good time to reconnect with friends and family.”

Consider a “top five” list. Write down the five things you love about the holidays. Then brainstorm what events and traditions will help preserve them. You don’t have to accept every invitation or attend every event. Just concentrate on the ones that mean the most.

Keep things simple and let others help. If you typically host holiday gatherings, consider making some changes to the routine. For example, instead of preparing the dinner yourself, order one from a restaurant or suggest a potluck. You can ask friends and family members to help you decorate, shop, cook, plan, run errands, clean—many people are eager to help but don’t know how. You could also ask someone else to host if your stamina flags.

Be practical. A hotel room—instead of staying with family—can give you a quiet place to retreat, relax and regroup. If treatment affects your appetite, concentrate on the fellowship instead of the meals. To save your personal energy, shop for gifts online or from mail-order catalogs. And remember, writing a heartfelt personal note, favorite memory or family story or giving copies of family photos are wonderful, special gifts.

Keep up your self-care. Exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, getting enough rest and staying on treatment schedules are as important during the holidays as at other times, Dr. Stein says.

Be honest and open. You’re fighting a life-threatening battle, which makes you emotionally vulnerable. If you share your fears and tears and let people get close to you, you may be rewarded with deeper personal relationships. Take time to grieve and, if you need to, talk to a counselor or a loved one.

Don’t center the entire holiday on cancer. It’s impossible to ignore the seriousness of cancer. But sad thoughts and worries can sometimes be deflected. Practice the “stop, think and focus” approach, Dr. Stein suggested. Consciously stop thinking the negative thought (“I don’t look the same as I did”) and think of an encouraging thought to replace it with (“My family loves me for who I am”). Then focus on the new message.

“It sounds corny, but you can actually have a deck of 3-by-5 cards with positive thoughts written on them,” Dr. Stein says. “When you need to, read them over.” You may find yourself more receptive to the hugs, laughter and smiles that holiday gatherings can offer.

4 ways to take a holiday from allergies

holiday allergyThe winter holidays can be troublesome for those who are allergy-prone, according to Myron Zitt, MD, past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). But these miserable symptoms don’t have to spoil the holiday spirit.

“Be aware of where the problems lie so you can deal with them,” Dr. Zitt said. “And then, have a good time.”

Dr. Zitt and the ACAAI offer these four suggestions:

1. Dust off decorations. Artificial trees, wreaths, ornaments and other traditional decor can gather dust or mold while in storage. Give them a good cleaning before hauling them out from the attic or basement—or, better yet, ask someone without allergies to take care of these tasks. When the holidays are over, consider investing in some plastic storage containers. You’ll breathe easier next year.

2. Think about the tree. Live trees and wreaths contain potential allergens, such as terpene (found in tree oil or sap), mold and pollen. If live trees light up your allergies, think about switching to an artificial model. Not a fake flora fan? Then try washing your live tree with a garden hose. Let it dry in the garage or on the porch, sitting in a bucket of water. Wear gloves to avoid getting sap on your hands.

3. Ask about ingredients. Sweets and other holiday temptations are everywhere, which makes it easy to run afoul of foods that cause allergic reactions. When attending food-filled parties, ask the host about the ingredients. If it’s a potluck, track down the various cooks before eating anything.

4. Pack with care. If you’ll be traveling for the holidays, be sure to pack your allergy medicine. Also, if you’re allergic to dust mites, consider packing your allergy-blocking pillowcase. If you own injectable epinephrine (“epi pen”), carry that with you wherever you go.

Cold weather sports – how to avoid injury

There’s snow in the mountains, and many people in Yakima are ready to hit the slopes. But cold weather sports and activities are physically demanding. The best way to avoid injury is to start preparing your body in advance of those activities. Joel Buffum of Sports Medicine Advantage will be on KIT 1280 today to talk about how to avoid injury when you’re swishing down the slopes.

Some common winter sports injuries

  • For skiers, injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee are the most common. We also see lower leg breaks, such as to the tibia, and shoulder injuries – dislocations, separations.
  • For snowboarders, statistics show most injuries occur with beginners because of the sport’s complexities.  Injuries to the hand, wrist and upper extremities are the most common.


The biggest causes of those injuries

  • Going without rest
  • Faulty equipment
  • Allowing yourself to get dehydrated or fatigued – the classic “one last run”
  • Going into areas that are above and beyond your ability level
  • Failing to observe warning signs and going off-trail
  • Less likely in our region – an inability to adjust to the altitude


Physical conditioning

  • Getting in shape reduces your risk of injury!
  • Adequate training in your chosen sport helps reduce chance of injury, improves your skills and increases your enjoyment
  • Winter sports conditioning includes cardiovascular training, metabolic training, strength training, power training (explosive moves), balance & stabilization (single foot balance squats and balance step ups on unstable surfaces), plyometrics and stretching.
  • Keep in mind the sport you want to perform and design a program that’s geared to those muscle groups.
    • For downhill skiers and snowboarders, your hamstrings and quads are key – hamstring curls, straight leg toe-touches, glute arches, roller chair pulls (dig your heels in and pull yourself across the floor in a chair with rollers), squats, wall sits, lunges.
    • For cross-country skiers, it’s more about endurance – aerobic exercise, such as an elliptical that mimics the muscle groups. Planks and side planks strengthen your core.
    • Stretching and warming up before you hit the slopes is important!  It loosens up your muscles and gets your heart rate up.


Additional tips to keep in mind

  • Buy and wear approved helmets or protective head gear that fits correctly. Wear eye protection.
  • Take a lesson from a qualified instructor.
  • Wear appropriate clothing in layers to prevent heat loss.  Layers closest to the skin should be made with materials that wick moisture away from skin.
  • Remember to stay properly hydrated and to eat!  Good nutrition equals good fuel.
  • Know the signs of frostbite – toes and fingers are susceptible to frostbite if they get wet or sweat a lot.
  • Know your limits and stop before you become tired!

6 tips for heart-healthy holiday eating

heart-appleYou can be kind to your heart throughout the holidays.


The holidays can be both heart-warming and heart-healthy. These suggestions from the American Heart Association can help you enjoy holiday treats without ignoring the health of your heart:

  • Don’t deprive yourself. You’ll only sour yourself on the idea of healthful eating. Strive for moderation instead.
  • Choose carefully: Roast turkey and chicken are naturally low in fat and calories, but duck and latkes aren’t. If you want to eat dishes that are higher in fat, take smaller servings.
  • Wait 15 to 20 minutes after a meal before eating dessert or having seconds. You may find that you don’t want more food after waiting a little bit.
  • If you’re doing the cooking, find ways to make recipes more heart-friendly:
    • Substitute oil for butter or margarine.
    • Replace full-fat sour cream with reduced-fat sour cream or low-fat yogurt.
    • Substitute 1 percent or skim milk for whole milk or cream.
    • Use non-stick pans for cooking so you don’t have to use a lot of oil or cooking spray.
    • Substitute chopped vegetables for some of the bread in stuffing.
  • At holiday gatherings, focus on conversations instead of food.
  • At holiday buffets, choose a small plate to put your food on and limit your trips to the buffet table.

Besides paying attention to what you eat, try to make physical activity a part of your holiday traditions, too. Take family walks after holiday meals, or play games outside.

Falling off ladders and other holiday decorating mishaps

life or limbStay safe with these tips!

As Christmas approaches, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reminding people to be safe when decorating the outside of their homes.

During November and December of 2012, the CPSC estimates that the nation’s emergency departments treated 15,000 injuries related to decorating, such as hanging lights, plugging cords into electrical sockets, and pulling plastic Santas up a shaky ladder.

“There are about 250 injuries a day during the holiday season,” said Robert Alder, acting chairman of the CPSC. “Adding safety to your checklist can keep a holiday tradition from becoming a holiday tragedy.”

The most frequently reported injuries in 2012 involved falls, lacerations and back sprains—many of which occurred when people climbed ladders to hang decorations and lights.

Light safety. Before starting to string lights around the house, trees and bushes, the CPSC recommends that you:

  • Choose only lights tested for safety and certified for outdoor use by Underwriters Laboratories, Intertek or the Canadian Standards Association. (Labels might use the full name or just the initials UL, ETL or CSA.)
  • Don’t use lights that have broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections.
  • Use appropriate extension cords. Some are only for indoor use; others may be labeled as OK for indoors and outdoors. Be sure the cord is in good condition, and plug it into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected receptacle or a portable GFCI.

Ladder safety. Start by choosing the correct ladder. According to the CPSC, that means a ladder that extends at least 3 feet over the roofline or other working surface. Also:

  • Be sure the ladder is placed on level and firm ground. If you’re looking at uneven, soft ground, buy leg levelers at your local hardware or home improvement store.
  • Set up straight, single or extension ladders at about a 75-degree angle to the house or work surface.
  • Do not use a metal ladder if you’re working near power lines or with electrical equipment. Also, don’t let any ladder—wood, metal or fiberglass—come into contact with a live electrical wire.
  • Have someone hold the bottom of the ladder whenever you’re on it.

You can find much more information on how to stay safe, reduce stress or eat more healthfully during the holidays at the Holiday Health topic center.

YouthWorks Caroling at Cottage in the Meadow

Hospice-carolersThe holiday season is upon us! The YouthWorks Council is spreading holiday cheer at Cottage in the Meadow by caroling for patients, family members, employees and hospice volunteers.  On December 9, 2013, the YouthWorks Council sang Rudolph the Red Noised Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Jingle Bell Rock for everyone at Cottage.  As the songs echoed throughout, several family members mentioned how much they enjoyed hearing the music.  In addition, family members expressed their gratitude by telling the YouthWorks Council about their loved ones and how much they all enjoyed the caroling at the Cottage.

There is always a reason for the season.  The YouthWorks Council will be caroling again on Monday, December 23, 2013 around 3:00pm.

Participating schools include: West Valley, Davis, Eisenhower, East Valley, and YVCC

A simple way to help kids control their weight

kids weightServing kids food in small bowls may help them eat less and avoid piling on pounds, according to a study in the Journal of Pediatrics.
The study found that serving children sugary cereal in larger bowls, rather than smaller ones, almost doubled the amount of food they asked for.

“Bigger bowls cause kids to request nearly twice as much food, leading to increased intake as well as higher food waste,” said researcher Koert van Ittersum, PhD, of the University of Groningen, Netherlands.

“The quickest way parents can help kids eat less might be to [give] them a smaller bowl,” added lead author Brian Wansink, PhD, a professor of behavioral economics at Cornell University.

About the study

Researchers randomly served 69 preschoolers a presweetened breakfast cereal in either an 8- or 16-ounce bowl. Adults poured cereal in small amounts, asking, “Is that enough, or do you want more?” until the kids felt satisfied with the amount of food dished out.

On average, the children with small bowls requested 24.7 grams of food, while those who had big bowls asked for 46.1 grams of food—or almost double the serving size. This was true regardless of the children’s sex, age or weight.

In the first part of the study, researchers didn’t allow the children to actually eat any cereal. But in a separate experiment involving 18 kids ages 6 to 10, the children were able to eat the food they requested.

As in the first experiment, the researchers gave children either small or large bowls. And this time they measured both how much cereal and milk the kids requested and how much they actually consumed.

Compared to kids given small bowls, the children with larger bowls:

  • Requested 69 percent more food.
  • Ate 42 percent more food.
  • Wasted 20 percent more food.
The take-home message
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of all children and adolescents nationwide are either overweight or obese.

This study suggests that something very easy—serving kids food on smaller plates—might be at least part of the solution to the problem.


Memorial has partnered with the Yakima Family YMCA to provide ACT!. ACT! which stands for Actively Changing Together is an evidence based program that models nutrition and physical activity behaviors that your family can put into action right away. For more information about the program visit or call Kate Sansom at 509 225-3179.




Many thanks to The Safeway Foundation and Sage Fruit

The successful ACT! Get Up! Get Moving! childhood obesity program received an $86,120 funding boost Dec. 14, 2014, allowing the program to continue in 2014.


The Safeway Foundation donated a check for $71,120, and Sage Fruit donated $15,000.

Three local organizations – Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, the Yakima Family YMCA and Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences – launched the ACT! program in January with support from the Safeway Foundation and Sage Fruit.

ACT stands for Actively Changing Together.  It’s a curriculum created by Seattle Children’s Hospital.   The program is designed to bring overweight and obese children, ages 8-14, and their parents together to receive nutrition and physical fitness education.  Once they complete the program, the participants are evaluated to see what impacts the education had on eating habits, physical activity and overall quality of life.

“We are so grateful to the Safeway Foundation and to Sage Fruit for their recognition and continued support of the program,” said Kate Sansom, ACT! program coordinator. “The funding will ensure more families in the Yakima Valley learn behaviors for healthier lifestyles that will contribute to the overall health of our community.”

Participation in the 12-week program is completely voluntary and involves a child in the defined age range and a parent.  Program highlights include a 90-minute nutrition and fitness group session, plus two additional fitness-only sessions per week, for 12 weeks.

The program is offered in English and Spanish.  So far, 71 families in the Yakima area have completed the program, and 200 community members have learned more about nutrition and physical fitness. Winter sessions in English and Spanish begin next month.

The additional funding will allow for six ACT! sessions in 2014 – three in English  and three in Spanish – and for follow-up study of this year’s participants at six and 12 months after they’ve completed the program.

Meet your North Star Lodge Dieticians

dietitiansNorth Star Lodge certified oncology dietitians; Lena Gill, Kim McCorquodale and Emily Reynolds help patients manage the side effects of treatment that affect their ability to eat well. These CSOs or Certified Specialists in Oncology Nutrition are registered dietitians (RD) who have become board certified by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) by practicing for at least 2 years, with at least 2,000 hours of experience in oncology, and the successful completion of a nationally administered exam.

Lena Gill
Lena has worked in the nutrition field for fourteen years including the areas of food service management as well as pediatrics, long-term care and home infusion before finding her true niche in oncology nutrition. As an oncology dietitian, Lena enjoys empowering her patients by providing them with the knowledge they can use to maintain their nutritional status in spite of diagnosis and potential treatment related side effects. “When I’m not working at North Star, I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling and running with friends.”

Kim McCorquodale
Kim’s journey to becoming a registered dietitian and Certified Specialist in Oncology nutrition (CSO) is different than most. She received her first degree in nutrition from the University of Washington in 1984 then delayed her education until 2007 when she completed her second degree and internship in 2007. She joined the team at North Star Lodge in 2008. “Oncology nutrition is of great interest personally to me as my family genetics is full of cancer. I also enjoy the mix of continued learning, community education, and patient interaction that are a vital part of our department’s goals.”

Emily Reynolds
Emily is a Registered Dietitian and graduated from Central Washington University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Food and Nutrition with a specialization in Dietetics. She enjoys working in this field because of the impact nutrition has on everyone’s health and daily life. “While completing my education I fell in love with oncology and feel it is truly where my passion lies. I enjoy getting to know and help the patients and families while they undergo treatment here at North Star Lodge. I especially enjoy the lifestyles and people of the Yakima Valley and appreciate the abundant outdoor opportunities available here.”