Run for Your Life 5K Fun Run and Health Fair

Joel Buffum of Sports Medicine Advantage will appear on KIT 1280 on Tuesday, April 1, to discuss the 4th annual Run for Your Life 5K Fun Run and Health Fair, organized by Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences medical students. The event is this Saturday, April 5. Memorial representatives will be taking part and offering information at the health fair.

 What is the Fun Run?

The run was started in 2011 by some of the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences medical students to try to engage the community in healthier activities, because Yakima County lags behind the rest of the state and the country on some key health statistics, including obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

It has effectively become the way the students try to thank the greater Yakima area by providing a family friendly, healthy and safe activity while raising funds to donate to local organizations that support the health and well-being of the Yakima area.

Where does the Fun Run go?

When it originated, the course traveled through Terrace Heights, but last year they moved it downtown. The course now

Is it just a 5K?

No. They have added additional pieces to the event over the years, including a health fair featuring student booths and local health organizations to provide information to the participants and visitors.

Memorial will be at the health fair providing health and fitness information to participants, visitors and everyone there to cheer on the runners and walkers. And a number of Memorial employees are participating to support the cause and promote health and wellness.

What is the goal of the health fair?

The goal of the health fair is to reach out to the community and provide resources and useful information regarding pertinent healthcare topics, such as hypertension and diabetes. In addition to providing these resources, there will also be areas to check blood pressure as well as weight and body fat composition.

What are the details again?

Day-of registration – starts at 7:30 a.m., North Town Coffee House downtown

5K Fun Run – starts at 8:30 a.m. downtown ($25 per adult)

Health Fair – 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at North Town Coffee House

Post-Race Celebration – 2nd Street and Pendleton Way

Proceeds will benefit the Union Gospel Mission’s Free Clinic Medical Facility.

For more information, visit

Colon cancer rates drop 30 percent as colonoscopy use triples

More people are getting screened for colon cancer, and fewer people are developing and dying from the disease as a result.

Colon cancer rates among American adults dropped 30 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to numbers released by the American Cancer Society (ACS). Mortality rates from the disease fell by about 3 percent every year of that decade.

Also during that time, the use of colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer tripled among adults ages 50 to 75.

That’s not a coincidence, said Richard C. Wender, MD, chief cancer control officer with the ACS, which published the data in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

“These continuing drops in incidence and mortality show the lifesaving potential of colon cancer screening,” he said.

The steepest decline in colon cancer occurred among people age 65 and older, an age group eligible for free colonoscopies through Medicare.

The “larger declines among Medicare-eligible seniors likely reflect higher rates of screening because of universal insurance coverage,” wrote the authors of the report.

About the study

Researchers mined data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries from the years 2000 to 2010.

Among their findings:

  • Overall colon cancer incidence rates decreased by an average of 3.4 percent per year.
  • Among adults age 65 and older, colon cancer rates dropped sharply as the decade progressed, declining 3.6 percent annually from 2001 to 2008, then 7.2 percent annually from 2008 to 2010.
  • Among adults age 50 and older, colon cancer rates dropped 3.9 percent per year.
  • Among adults 50 and younger, colon cancer rates went up 1.1 percent per year. According to the ACS, this reflected an increase in specific types of colon cancer linked to obesity and poor diet.
  • Deaths due to colon cancer decreased about 3 percent annually during 2000 to 2010. Those rates had dropped about 2 percent during the previous decade.

Colon cancer remains the third-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and the third most common type of cancer. The ACS estimates nearly 137,000 people in the U.S. will be newly diagnosed with colon cancer in 2014 and more than 50,000 people will die of the disease.

The take-home message
Colonoscopy is one of several screening tests for colon cancer. It can find—and remove—polyps in the colon before they have a chance to become cancer.

Current guidelines recommend that most people get screened for the disease beginning at age 50. Ask your doctor about the different types of screening tests available, as well as their benefits and risks.

Struggling to eat less salt? Learn to use herbs, spices

If you want people to cut back on salt by using herbs and spices to flavor foods, they’ll have much more success if you also show them how to do it.

That’s pretty much the message of a study presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014.

Most Americans consume too much salt (sodium). Excess sodium in the diet is a major cause for high blood pressure, which damages the heart, arteries and other organs, according to the AHA.

Since people often use salt as a flavoring, a popular tip for reducing sodium is to suggest people use herbs and spices instead. But not everyone knows that cinnamon can be used in a Mexican dish, for example, or what foods are best complemented by rosemary. They need to be taught.

Which is what Cheryl Anderson, PhD, and her colleagues decided to try.

“We studied the use of a behavioral intervention where people learn how to use spices and herbs and less salt in their daily lives,” said Dr. Anderson, lead author of the study.

About the study

The study involved 55 overweight adults. More than 60 percent of them had high blood pressure and 18 percent had diabetes.

In the first phase of the study, the adults ate low-sodium foods for four weeks. Their average sodium intake dropped from 3,450 milligrams to 1,656 milligrams daily. (The AHA recommends consuming no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium every day.)

In the second phase of the study, half of the adults were assigned to a 20-week behavioral intervention program. The people in this group learned how to use herbs and spices to flavor foods, instead of salt. They took part in cooking demonstrations and discussed the ways they were lowering the amount of sodium in their favorite recipes.

The remaining adults were left to their own devices to figure out how to lessen the amount of sodium they consumed.

At the study’s end, the adults in the intervention program were consuming an average of 966 milligrams less sodium per day than the people who weren’t taught how to use herbs and spices.

The take-home message
Learning how to use herbs and spices to flavor foods instead of salt can help you lower your daily sodium intake.

Check out these 10 ways to shake your salt habit. You also can find tips for making your own spice blends from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics tip sheet Eating Right With Less Salt.

Angry outbursts raise risk for heart attack, stroke

Getting really mad may be really bad for people who are at high risk for cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.

According to a study in the European Heart Journal, a person’s risk for having such a serious event appears to increase significantly in the two hours immediately after an angry outburst. That risk is highest in people who already have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease and who lose their temper often, researchers found.

“A person without many risk factors for cardiovascular disease who has only one episode of anger per month has a very small additional risk,” said study co-author Elizabeth Mostofsky, MPh, ScD. “But a person with multiple risk factors or a history of heart attack or stroke, and who is frequently angry, has a much higher absolute excess risk accumulated over time.”

About the study

The study was based on nine previously completed studies that looked at angry outbursts among thousands of people who had strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. Those studies were done between 2002 and 2013 in the U.S. and several other countries.

In eight of the studies, investigators who did the original research used a specific assessment tool to measure the participants’ anger, although how they administered the tool and interpreted its results varied. In the ninth study, participants recorded their anger in a diary.

The researchers found:

  • The risk of a heart attack or other serious heart event was 4.74 times higher in the two hours after an angry outburst, compared to times when the person was not angry.
  • The risk of stroke caused by a blood clot was 3.62 times higher during those two hours, compared to times without anger.
  • The risk for abnormal heart rhythms increased as well. One study found that the risk for ventricular tachycardia (a fast heart rate starting in the lower chambers of the heart) or ventricular fibrillation (a chaotic heartbeat) was 3.2 times higher in the hour following moderate anger. That jumped to nearly 17 times higher in the hour after intense anger, compared to times without anger.
  • The more often someone was angry, the greater the risk. A single angry outburst once a month in someone at low risk for heart disease was associated with just one additional cardiovascular event per every 10,000 people each year. But among low-risk people who had at least five angry outbursts per day, there were 158 additional events.
  • The higher someone’s risk of a serious event, the greater the potential impact of their anger. While there were 158 additional events among low-risk people who were angry at least five times each day, there were 657 additional events among high-risk people who showed similar anger.

The researchers noted that their results don’t prove that angry outbursts caused the heart attacks, strokes or other events among the people in the various studies. They also emphasized that the differing methods of the nine studies make it difficult to be certain of the current findings.

Even so, evidence from all of the studies pointed consistently to a link between anger and cardiovascular events, the authors concluded.

Why would anger raise the risk of these kinds of events? The authors noted that psychological stress has been shown to increase heart rate and blood pressure and to cause constriction of blood vessels. This could cause plaque in arteries to break up and form dangerous clots, they theorized.

The take-home message
If you frequently get angry, you may be at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke—particularly if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other conditions that make you vulnerable to heart and vascular disease.

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital’s Transitions Program.

Carrie Gilman and Beth Turbak appeared on KIT 1280 on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, to discuss Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital’s Transitions Program.

Transitions serves any adult in Yakima County with a life-limiting illness. A life-limiting illness is one with a limited prognosis or that presents new challenges, significantly impacting an individual or the family’s well-being.


How does Transitions help?

  • Transitions provides assistance with planning, education and support in coping with a serious, life-limiting illness through social work and volunteer services.


What are the criteria for participating in the program?

  • Diagnosed with a life-limiting illness
  • Recent and/or anticipated changes in health
  • Client willing to have ongoing in-person or phone contact with the Transitions Program
  • Can be referred by physician, family/friend or self
  • Doctor’s order is not required. However, we do consult with physicians when needed, either for inclusion in the program or when medical concerns arise.


Who does Transitions serve?

  • In 2012-2013, an average monthly census of 72 clients
  • Clients reside independently, in assisted living facilities, adult family homes and nursing homes
  • Ages range from late 30s to early 90s
  • Clients diagnosed with many different illnesses


Transitions helps to educate its clients in a number of areas:

  • Advance directives
  • Community resources
  • Health system navigation: “Nothing adds up”
  • Future caregiving needs
  • Grief and loss associated with: New diagnosis, Progression of diagnosis


Transitions provides psychosocial support:

  • Initial psychosocial assessment – Ongoing support – LOTS of “check-in calls.”
  • Volunteer support


We rely heavily on volunteers.

  • Volunteers provide companionship, transportation, help with errands, light housekeeping, and/or meal preparation.
  • As the number of Transitions clients increases, we are utilizing more and more volunteers.
  • JV is working on recruitment process.


Who pays for the program?

  • The Transitions Program is funded by The Memorial Foundation.
  • There is no cost to participating clients and their families.
  • The Transitions Program does not bill any insurance for services provided.


For more information, visit The Memorial Foundation at



Frequently asked questions:


I have an illness that limits my ability to do certain things. Where can I find help in Yakima?

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital’s Transitions Program serves any adult in Yakima County with a life-limiting illness. A life-limiting illness is one with a limited prognosis or that presents new challenges, significantly impacting an individual or the family’s well-being.


Where can I volunteer my time in Yakima?

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital’s Transitions Program relies heavily on volunteers. The program serves any adult in Yakima County with a life-limiting illness. Volunteers assist these people with a variety of tasks: companionship, transportation, help with errands, light housekeeping or meal preparation.


What does it cost me to participate in the Transitions Program?

The Transitions Program is funded by The Memorial Foundation. There is no cost to participating clients and their families, and the program does not bill any insurance for services provided.

Alert! Find out right now if you’re at risk for diabetes

This is a wake-up call from the American Diabetes Association (ADA): Are you one of the millions of people who don’t know that they have type 2 diabetes?

Today is Alert! Day—the one day of the year that the ADA asks the American people to take an online test to find out their individual risk for type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Risk Test is simple and painless. All you need to do is answer a handful of questions about your weight, your age, your family’s medical history and a few other factors that may put you at risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

If you’re at high risk, that’s your alert to make an appointment with your doctor.

Everyone who takes the test will also learn some tips to avoid developing diabetes.

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes. According to the ADA, it occurs when the body no longer properly uses a hormone called insulin. As a result, the amount of blood glucose (sugar) in the body climbs. That can lead to serious health problems over time.

Although the ADA’s Alert Day! is a one-day event, you can take the Diabetes Risk Test any day of the year.

Visit the Diabetes health topic center to learn more about the different types of diabete

Diabetes in pregnancy may signal heart disease in future

Gestational diabetes—already known as a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes—also might increase a woman’s risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Women with a history of gestational diabetes were found to have thicker walls in their carotid arteries later in life compared with women whose pregnancies had been diabetes-free, the researchers found.

“Pregnancy has been under-recognized as an important time period that can signal a woman’s greater risk for future heart disease,” said Erica P. Gunderson, PhD, MS, MPH, lead author of the study. “This signal is revealed by gestational diabetes, a condition of elevated blood sugar during pregnancy.”

Thickened artery walls indicate a buildup of fatty plaque and a condition called atherosclerosis, which is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Gestational diabetes develops only during pregnancy and usually goes away after birth. Half of women who have it will develop type 2 diabetes later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About the study

The study involved 898 women who had been involved in a previous long-term research project that began in 1985. At that time, the women were ages 18 to 30 and had no history of diabetes or heart disease.

Over the next 20 years, all the women gave birth to at least one child. Their blood glucose levels, weight, cholesterol levels and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease were tracked.

In addition, researchers used ultrasound to measure the thickness of the women’s artery walls about 12 years after the women’s last pregnancy (at about ages 38 to 50).

The researchers found that women who developed gestational diabetes during one or more pregnancies were more likely to have thicker artery walls than women who didn’t have gestational diabetes.

Previous studies have found that a history of gestational diabetes increases a woman’s risk for eventually developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, all of which increase her risk for heart disease.

This study found that gestational diabetes increases a woman’s risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease, whether or not she develops metabolic syndrome, the authors wrote.

The take-home message
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women. Identifying women who are at risk for developing the disease can help them take steps to prevent it.

If you develop gestational diabetes, you should know that you may have an increased risk for heart disease. Talk with your doctor about steps you can take in other areas to reduce your risk, such as increasing physical activity, adopting a heart-healthy diet, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. You can find more information at the Heart health topic center.

Dying on the job: Could a burst of activity put your life at risk?

People whose jobs involve bouts of moderate or intense physical activity should be regularly screened for cardiovascular risk factors, suggests a study that looked at firefighter deaths.

The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, which runs from April 26 to May 3.

“Knowing that these fatal heart attacks and other vascular events occur relatively frequently, fire departments and other workplaces need to be prepared to recognize these events and screen for those who may be at higher risk,” said Amna Zarar, MD, the study’s author.

About the study

Researchers examined data collected by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health from 1998 to 2012.

During that time, 199 firefighters died from cardiovascular events while on duty. These events included 167 heart attacks, 12 arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), 3 strokes and several other causes. A total of 88 of the firefighters were fighting a fire at the time, said Dr. Zarar. At least 61 of the firefighters were responding to an emergency call, and about one-third of the events occurred at the fire station after physical activity such as fitness training or lifting hoses and other heavy equipment.

The activity preceding most of the fatal cardiovascular events lasted an average 33 minutes. Some activities were rated as moderately energetic, whereas others were rated as vigorous.

The firefighters who died were an average of 49 years old with 22 years of experience on the job. An examination of their medical records found that many of them had risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

For example, among the 148 who died after vigorous activity:

  • 94 had high cholesterol
  • 93 had high blood pressure
  • 46 had a family history of heart disease
  • 42 were smokers
  • 22 had diabetes