FDA: Powdered caffeine can kill

FDA: Powdered caffeine can kill | Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

July 30, 2014—Powdered caffeine is essentially 100 percent caffeine. A single teaspoon of it is equivalent to about 25 cups of coffee, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Sounds efficient, right?

Unfortunately, these products can be very dangerous, and they’re marketed directly to consumers online. FDA is warning people about these dangers and urging people to avoid them.

Dangerous in small doses

Even very small amounts of pure caffeine may cause an accidental overdose. Adding to the danger, the powder—often sold in bulk bags via the Internet—is nearly impossible to accurately measure with common kitchen tools. That means it’s easy to take in a lethal amount, even if you think you’re being careful.

Parents should be aware that teens and young adults in particular may be drawn to this potent powder, and at least one teenager has died after using this powerful stimulant, FDA warned.

Know the danger signs

Signs of a potentially fatal caffeine overdose include seizures and a rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat. Someone who has overdosed may also vomit, have diarrhea, and appear dazed or disoriented.

If you believe you are experiencing an adverse reaction to caffeine, stop using it and get immediate medical help, FDA advised.

In addition, FDA wants to know if you experience an adverse reaction to pure powdered caffeine or any other highly caffeinated products. Either you or your doctor can report your symptoms by:

You can learn more about the FDA warning here.


The take-home message
Pure caffeine may seem like a quick way to get a big energy boost. But as FDA warned, it’s a potentially lethal stimulant. So don’t take chances: Steer clear of it, especially if you have a heart problem. Caffeine—even when it’s not pure—can make a fragile heart work too hard.

However, it is generally safe to drink a moderate amount of coffee to stay awake and alert, according to FDA. And that coffee might even help your health. Research suggests that regular coffee consumption might protect you from certain diseases, including diabetes and heart failure.

So how much coffee is a safe, moderate amount? Some doctors suggest limiting your total daily caffeine to no more than 200 milligrams—or the amount in 10 ounces of coffee. Still, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Caffeine affects people differently, depending on their size, sex and sensitivity to it.

Check with your doctor to see what’s right for you, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. And if you have a heart problem, FDA recommends that you avoid caffeine altogether.

To find out more about how to cut back on caffeine and to learn about the hidden caffeine that might be in the foods you eat, click here.

Heart patients leery of changes in pill shapes, colors | Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital

Heart patients leery of changes in pill shapes, colors | Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

July 29, 2014—When drug companies change the color or shape of generic medications such as ACE inhibitors and beta blockers, heart attack patients—whose lives may depend on these drugs—often stop taking them, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Although generic medications must meet the same U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards for quality, strength and purity as their brand-name counterparts, there are no industry standards for the shapes or colors of pills. And as the study’s authors noted, changes in the way a generic drug looks can undermine patients’ confidence in their prescriptions or cause confusion that could lead to serious problems.

About the study

Researchers reviewed health data for 11,513 men and women in the U.S. who were hospitalized for heart attacks between 2006 and 2011. All were subsequently treated for heart disease with a generic version—in pill form—of one of these:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor.
  • Angiotensin II-receptor blocker.
  • Beta blocker.
  • Statin.

In the 12 months following their respective heart attacks, 3,286 of the patients (nearly 29 percent) had a change in either the color or the shape of their pill.

When a pill’s color changed: The odds of the patient stopping his or her drug regimen—called nonpersistence—increased by 34 percent.

When a pill’s shape changed: Nonpersistence increased by 66 percent.

The study’s authors acknowledged that they evaluated only three classes of drugs, and they did not examine the problems these people faced when they stopped using their drugs. Nevertheless, they noted, many other studies have linked patients quitting their meds with subsequent health problems.

Find the complete study here.


The take-home message
This study is important, especially since cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. The more researchers can find out why people don’t take their medications, the more they might be able to convince people to use the tools available to keep their hearts healthy, particularly during that key time period that follows a heart attack.

But there are some things you can do, too, in order to ensure that you’re taking your heart pills properly.

If you refill a prescription and your pills look a little different than those you’re used to, ask your pharmacist to talk things over with you. There might be a simple explanation. Or consider using the same pharmacy each time. That might reduce the chance of a change in appearance.

If your pills look different and you’re thinking of stopping their use, have a heart-to-heart talk with your doctor first. In fact, talk to your doctor before you quit your medications for any reason at all. Tell him or her if:

  • You feel better and think you don’t need your medication anymore.
  • You don’t feel better and think the medicine isn’t working.
  • You don’t like the side effects.
  • You can’t afford your prescription.

Taking medication as prescribed could mean the difference between life and death, so it’s vital to talk to your doctor right away before you make any big decisions.

Need another reason to stick with your medications? Check out this article on the power of statins.

Too many kids glued to TV and computer screens

Too many kids glued to TV and computer screens | Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

July 26, 2014—The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises limiting kids’ entertainment screen time to less than one to two hours each day.

But only 27 percent of kids surveyed as part of a government study reported spending less than two hours each day watching TV and using computers outside of school. On the other end of the spectrum, 6.9 percent of the kids reported watching TV for five or more hours every day, and 5.1 percent used their computers for five or more hours daily.

About the study

The study’s findings are based on 2012 data from two national surveys of children aged 12 to 15 analyzed by researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics.

In addition to uncovering the fact that most kids were consuming too much media, the researchers reported that the weight of the kids surveyed was tied to the number of hours they spent in front of screens. Only 20 percent of obese kids kept their daily screen time to two hours or less, compared to 23.1 percent of overweight kids and 30.6 percent of kids who were underweight or normal-weight.

Learn more study details here.


The take-home message
Screen time—whether it involves TVs and computers or even smartphones—isn’t all bad, the AAP acknowledges. A high-quality TV program or website, for example, can help kids learn.

But daily screen time in excess of two hours has been linked to all sorts of problems, including obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as lost sleep, aggression and problems at school.

Because of those concerns, it’s important to have clear family rules about screen time and media use, the AAP cautions. And these rules should do more than limit the hours a child spends in front of a screen. They should also take into account the specifics of the content children are exposed to.

These guidelines from the AAP may help you to make good choices for your family:

  • Limit daily screen time to under two hours. Kids under two years old are better off without any screen time at all. Children this young need unstructured play and time with people—not screens—to thrive.
  • Keep TVs and computers out of kids’ bedrooms. Computers should also be in a public part of your home so that you can check on your child’s media diet.
  • Establish a “media curfew” for mealtime and bedtime. Turn off—or put away—all devices.
  • Help your child make healthy media choices. Look for content that is educational and teaches good values, such as empathy.
  • Don’t let your child watch content that isn’t age-appropriate, especially when it comes to sex, violence and drugs. Be firm.
  • Watch programming with your child. Then discuss it and make your values known.
  • Become familiar with social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. You might even create your own profile on sites your child uses and connect with your child on those sites.

For more articles you can use to boost your parenting skills, click here.

Life-spans shrink as Americans get fatter, researchers say

July 28, 2014—Common sense tells you that being on the high end of the obesity scale isn’t exactly healthy. Now, researchers have a rather stark statistic to back that up: Extremely obese people die 6.5 to 13.7 years earlier than people of normal weight.

The large, three-decades-long study focused on people with class 3 obesity—people with a BMI (body mass index) greater than 40. For a person of average height, that’s about 100 pounds over the recommended weight. The changes in death rate for people in this group were mostly due to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The risk of dying from these and other causes rose continuously as study participants’ BMI went up, researchers said.

About the study

BMI is a calculation that uses height and weight to estimate a person’s overall body fat. A normal BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9. Obesity begins at 30.0; class 3 obesity begins at 40.0.

Researchers analyzed data from 20 previous studies to determine the risk of premature death for 304,011 people of normal BMI and 9,564 people with class 3 obesity.

Researchers did not include anyone who had ever smoked or who had a history of heart disease, cancer, stroke or emphysema.

The findings

Among other things, researchers discovered higher death rates among the extremely obese. (Death rates are defined as deaths per 100,000 people per year.)

•For the extremely obese, the death rate was 856 for men and 663 for women.
•For people with normal BMI, the death rate was only about 347 for men and about 280 for women.
Compared to people with normal BMI, those with class 3 obesity also died earlier, losing between 6.5 and 13.7 years of life.

Read the full study here.

The take-home message

Weight loss can seem daunting, especially if you need to lose 100 pounds to reach a normal BMI. While the journey may be long—and a little overwhelming—experts say it’s important to get started. Even losing a little weight can help.

To begin:

•Improve your diet. Keeping track of everything you eat is a good place to start. Then, a dietitian can help you develop a meal plan that could help you lose a pound or two each week.
•Stay active. If you’re already doing some exercise, stick with it. But if you’re not exercising at all or you want to kick up the intensity, talk with your doctor first. Don’t increase your activity level without your doctor’s OK.
•Get support. Talking with others can keep your weight-loss program on track. Group sessions or one-on-one consultations may give you the boost you need.
•Ask about medications. Some people lose additional weight when certain prescription medications are part of their overall plan. Your doctor can help you decide if medications are an option.
•Consider surgery. If diet, exercise and medications aren’t working, ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for weight-loss surgery. Be sure to discuss all of the potential risks and benefits before you decide on surgery.
If you’re not quite sure that your weight qualifies as obese, this BMI calculator may help. Use it to find your BMI, and talk to your doctor about your results at your next appointment.

Mom’s weight at the start of pregnancy affects baby’s health | Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital

May 1, 2014—Women with a high body mass index (BMI) around the time they get pregnant are at increased risk of losing their baby before or soon after birth, according to a study published in JAMA.

The higher the BMI, the greater the risk, researchers found.

BMI uses height and weight to come up with a measure of body fat.

Past studies have indicated a link between maternal BMI and these events, but not all found a meaningful association.

About the study

Researchers led by Dagfinn Aune, MS, of Imperial College London, reviewed prior studies that examined the connection between a woman’s BMI and the risk of the baby’s death.

Their analysis included 38 studies that, combined, involved approximately 47,000 fetal and infant deaths. Half of the studies came from Europe. Another six each were done in North America and Australia. The rest came from Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Overall, researchers found “moderate to strong” increases in the risk of fetal death (defined as spontaneous death of a fetus during pregnancy or labor), stillbirth (defined generally as death of a fetus after 20 weeks gestation) and infant death as maternal BMI increased. But the actual number of events per 10,000 pregnancies were small.

For example:

  • For women with a BMI of 20, there were 76 fetal deaths for every 10,000 pregnancies. For women with a BMI of 30, there were 102 fetal deaths per 10,000 pregnancies.
  • For women with a BMI of 20, there were 40 stillbirths per 10,000 pregnancies. That rose to 59 stillbirths per 10,000 when the women’s BMI was 30.
  • For women with a BMI of 20, the number of perinatal deaths (defined as stillbirth or death soon after birth) was 66 per 10,000 pregnancies. That rose to 86 perinatal deaths per 10,000 pregnancies for women with a BMI of 30.

Although the link between increasing maternal BMI and fetal and infant death isn’t clear, the researchers offered several theories. For instance, excess weight and obesity are linked with a higher risk of pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes and birth defects—all of which are strongly associated with the risk of fetal and infant death.

The take-home message
Women who are or plan to get pregnant should work closely with their doctor to keep their weight in a healthy range.

How much weight should you gain during pregnancy? Find guidelines here.


Risks for SIDS change as babies grow: Are you prepared?

July 24, 2014—If you’re a parent or grandparent, you’ve likely heard of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Safe sleep practices can reduce the risk. And now a study in the journal Pediatrics suggests that the risk factors an infant faces can change over that first year of the child’s life.

Researchers found that most younger infants—those under 4 months old—who died unexpectedly while sleeping had been sharing a bed with an adult or sleeping on one. As infants develop, additional risk factors may increase in significance, the researchers suggested. In particular, after age 4 months, infants may roll over into bedding, stuffed toys or other potentially hazardous things as they sleep—which highlights the importance of removing such objects from a baby’s bed.

About the study

Researchers examined more than 8,000 reports of sleep-related infant deaths. They compared the sleep environments of babies younger than 4 months to those of babies 4 months to 364 days old to see if any risk factors were more prominent at different ages.

Among the findings:

  • Overall, about 69 percent of babies were sleeping with a person or animal when they died. This was more common among younger infants (73.8 percent versus 58.9 percent).
  • Younger babies were also more likely to be sleeping in an adult bed (rather than a crib, bassinet or playpen) or in the arms or on the chest of another person when they died.
  • More older infants had changed position while asleep, and these babies were found lying on their bellies with things like pillows, blankets and stuffed animals. Many of these babies may have rolled into the objects and suffocated, the authors noted.

Read the study abstract here.

The take-home message
Bed sharing is an unsafe sleep practice—particularly for infants younger than 4 months. These babies lack the ability and strength to move away if, for example, someone rolls on them. Your baby might enjoy sleeping close to you, but he or she really should have a separate sleeping area.

Your baby should sleep stomach-side up on a firm crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet. That bed should also be free of all objects, including pillows, fluffy toys and loose blankets. These items might seem comforting, but they clearly can be hazardous for sleepers who roll into them.

In addition to brushing up on sleep safety, keeping a baby really safe also means checking your house for hazards. See this article for tips on how you can do just that.


Join us this Saturday, July 26th, for a family-friendly health fair!

Kohl’s Department Stores, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital Partner to Keep Kids Safe
Family-friendly Fiesta de Salud Health Fair offers health screenings, fun activities

YAKIMA, Wash. — Five-hundred children will receive bike helmets at the Fiesta de Salud Health Fair Saturday, thanks to the generous support of Kohl’s Department Stores.

The Fiesta de Salud Health Fair is a fun, family-friendly event offering health screenings, health information, a fitness obstacle course and other entertainment for adults and children. Free cholesterol, diabetes, osteoporosis and blood pressure screenings will be available, and bike helmets will be provided to the first 500 children who attend the event. Fiesta de Salud will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, at the Modern Living Building at Yakima State Fair Park, 1301 S. Fair Ave.

The event is sponsored by Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic and Fiesta Foods, and is supported in part by Seattle Children’s Hospital, The Memorial Foundation and Kohl’s, which donated $6,900 as part of its Kohl’s Cares® program to provide bike helmets for area children. Each recipient of a helmet will have it properly fitted by experts from Seattle Children’s Hospital.

“Memorial is thrilled to have continued support from Kohl’s for programs that improve the health and wellness of the Yakima community,” said Anne Caffery, Memorial vice president of communications and president of The Memorial Foundation. “Kohl’s has shown its commitment to improving lives in this community with both financial support and volunteer spirit, and we couldn’t be happier to have Kohl’s as a partner.”

In the past three years, Kohl’s has donated more than $21,000 to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital and The Memorial Foundation. Other Memorial initiatives supported through Kohl’s Cares include Children’s Village, YouthWorks and other child safety programs through community education. Kohl’s also provides books and stuffed toys on a regular basis for the foundation’s Children’s Initiative, and Kohl’s employees are encouraged to volunteer at community events throughout the year.

Kohl’s commitment to Memorial is made possible through the Kohl’s Cares cause merchandise program. Through this initiative, Kohl’s sells $5 books and plush toys, with 100 percent of net profits benefiting children’s health and education programs nationwide, including hospital partnerships like this one. Kohl’s has raised more than $257 million through this merchandise program. In addition to the merchandise program, Kohl’s Cares® features the Kohl’s Cares® Scholarship Program, which last year recognized more than 2,300 young volunteers with more than $400,000 in scholarships and prizes. Through Kohl’s Associates in Action volunteer program, more than 669,000 associates have donated more than 2.2 million hours of their time since 2001, and Kohl’s has donated more than $63 million to youth-focused nonprofit organizations. Kohl’s also offers fundraising gift cards for schools and youth-serving organizations. For more information, visit www.Kohls.com/Cares.

About Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital
Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital is a 226-bed, acute-care, not-for-profit community hospital serving Central Washington’s Yakima Valley. Memorial Family of Services includes primary care practices and specialty care services, including high-quality cardiac care, a continuum of cancer care, hospice care and advanced services for children with special health care needs. Visit Memorial online at yakimamemorial.org or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/yakimavalleymemorialhospital), Twitter (www.twitter.com/Yakima_Memorial) or Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/yvmh).

About Kohl’s
Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS) is a leading specialty department store with 1,160 stores in 49 states. With a commitment to inspiring and empowering families to lead fulfilled lives, the company offers amazing national and exclusive brands, incredible savings and inspiring shopping experiences in-store, online at Kohls.com and via mobile devices. Committed to our communities, Kohl’s has raised more than $257 million for children’s initiatives nationwide through its Kohl’s Cares® cause merchandise program, which operates under Kohl’s Cares, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc. For additional information about Kohl’s philanthropic and environmental initiatives, visit www.Kohls.com/Cares. For a list of store locations and information, or for the added convenience of shopping online, visit www.Kohls.com. Connect with Kohl’s on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Kohls), Twitter (www.twitter.com/Kohls), Google+ (http://plus.google.com/+Kohls), Pinterest (pinterest.com/Kohls) and Instagram (instagram.com/Kohls).

Swim safely: How to avoid germs in the pool

A swimming pool is the place to be on a hot summer day. But pools can harbor bacteria and other germs that cause recreational water illnesses. The most common is diarrhea from a gastrointestinal illness. You could also get an eye, ear or skin infection.

Chlorine kills germs, but not instantly. In fact, some germs can stay alive for days in chlorinated water. These precautions can help you avoid getting—or spreading—a recreational water illness:

  • Don’t swim in a pool with cloudy water. Also check the sides—tiles shouldn’t be sticky or slippery.
  • Check for odor. There shouldn’t be a strong chemical smell.
  • Avoid swallowing water or even getting it in your mouth.
  • Don’t swim if you have diarrhea.
  • Shower with soap before you swim.
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing a diaper.
  • Take kids to the bathroom often. With babies, check their diapers often.
  • Change diapers away from the poolside.

If you have doubts about pool water, ask the staff how often chlorine and pH levels are checked—twice a day is the minimum. Or buy your own test strips and follow the instructions to check the water yourself.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Your restaurant meal is probably still too salty

July 23, 2014—Easier said than done? It seems that’s the case when it comes to reducing the sodium content in restaurant meals. While many restaurants pledged to cut back on salt in the dishes they served, few have risen to the occasion, a report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest found.

A little salt goes a long way

Excess sodium intake is linked to serious health problems, including the risks of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Yet most Americans consume far more than they should, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In 2009, the center assessed the sodium content of a sampling of menu items from 17 restaurant chains. In 2013, the center again assessed the menu items to see if promises to reduce the sodium content were fulfilled.

They found that while many of the meals did, indeed, have less salt overall, other meals actually had increased levels of sodium. And even among meals with reduced sodium, many still contained more than a day’s worth of it—some even contained two to three days’ worth of sodium.

Read more here.

Sorting out salt

The researchers said that reducing Americans’ sodium intake could slash the incidence of coronary heart disease and save thousands of lives.

Even if restaurants and food manufacturers are slow to take up the cause, you can get proactive.

For starters, eat out less often. And when you do plan to go out, make healthier choices:

  • Research sodium content at popular restaurants before you eat out.
  • Ask for sodium information before you select your meal at the restaurant. That information might not be printed on the menu, but you can ask for a nutritional information brochure to read before you order.
  • When possible, request that your meal be made with less salt or with no added salt.
  • Swap out high-sodium sides such as fries for heart-friendly options like fresh fruit or salad with dressing on the side.

The foods you buy at the store might also have an unhealthy amount of salt. To find out more about how to check your food labels for sodium content, click here.

7th Annual Fiesta de Salud Health Fair – July 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

7th  Annual Fiesta de Salud Health Fair – July 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The annual Fiesta de Salud Health Fair will be this Saturday, July 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Modern Living Building at Yakima State Fair Park, 1301 S. Fair Ave. Juanita Silva of Memorial’s Community Health Education and Maria Benavides of Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic appeared on KIT 1280 on Tuesday, July 22, to discuss the upcoming event.

What is it?

This is the seventh year for Fiesta de Salud, an annual health and wellness fair presented by Memorial, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic and Fiesta Foods. This event is offered at no charge to attendees.

The purpose of Fiesta de Salud is to promote health services that are available to all in our community and to connect the people to the services.  At Memorial we believe that improving health will transform our community.  And we do this through educational events like Fiesta de Salud.

What’s new this year?

We have a new location this year – the Modern Living Building at Yakima State Fair Park, 1301 S. Fair Ave. There also will be a fitness obstacle course – offered by Rock Solid Fitness – for families to participate in together.

What can people expect?

There will be 35 different community outreach agencies and vendors ranging from health care to education.  It’s the perfect time to get information, ask questions and learn more about the services they offer.

We’ll have live music and fun activities, including the obstacle course, for the kids. Bike helmets also will be provided free of charge to the first 500 kids, thanks to a generous donation from Kohl’s Department Stores. And Seattle Children’s Hospital will be back again this year to ensure those helmets are properly fitted for each child.

Will there be health screenings?

Yes. There will be cholesterol, diabetes, osteoporosis and blood pressure screenings.

New this year: We will have privacy screens so that we can offer privacy during cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes screenings.

Also, the Farm Workers clinic staff will offer a mobile dental clinic for the kids with the Ronald McDonald mobile unit.


How do I sign up?

You don’t need to sign up, and there’s no fee to attend.  Just show up!  Last year, it’s estimated as many as 7,500 people attended.

The event is sponsored by Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic and Fiesta Foods, and is supported in part by Seattle Children’s Hospital, The Memorial Foundation and Kohl’s.

For more information, call 225-3178.