Gaining just 5 extra pounds could raise blood pressure

Sept. 30, 2014—Most people understand that obesity has serious health risks. However, researchers are now suggesting that even a small weight gain can increase blood pressure.

New findings

Researchers set out to see what effect a small weight gain of about 5 to 11 pounds would have on overall health. They presented their findings at the American Heart Association‘s (AHA) “High Blood Pressure Research 2014 Scientific Sessions.”

Researchers used a 24-hour monitor to record the blood pressure of 26 people. The participants were normal-weight adults between 18 and 48 years old who did not smoke and were not taking any medications.

Sixteen of the participants were given an extra 400 to 1,200 calories every day for eight weeks. These excess calories increased each person’s weight by about 5 percent, or 5 to 11 pounds. After eight weeks, researchers compared these participants’ blood pressure levels to those of the remaining 10 individuals, whose weight hadn’t changed.

The results showed:

  • Those who gained weight had an increase in their systolic blood pressure. This top number of the blood pressure reading increased from an average of 114 mm Hg to an average of 118.
  • The participants who gained more weight inside their abdomens saw a greater increase in their blood pressure.
  • Gaining weight didn’t change people’s levels of cholesterol, insulin or blood sugar.

In addition, blood pressure increase was specifically related to increases in visceral fat in the abdomen. Visceral fat is the fat inside the abdomen, as opposed to fat just under the skin.


Learn more about the presentation here.

The take-home message
Gaining just a little bit of weight can have a negative effect on your health. While watching your weight go up and down a few pounds at a time might not seem like a big deal, every gain can affect your blood pressure. In turn, high blood pressure can contribute to a slew of health problems.

According to the AHA and the National Institutes of Health, high blood pressure starts when either:

  • The top number of the reading (the systolic pressure) is 140 or higher.
  • The bottom number of the reading (diastolic pressure) is 90 or higher .

It’s important to keep an eye on your weight, especially if you’re prone to putting on weight in your belly.

Your best bet? Keep your weight at a steady, healthy level, and check your blood pressure regularly. Consult with your doctor if you see dramatic changes or have concerns.

While high blood pressure may not always be recognized, it can silently cause many health problems. Take a look at this helpful review of how high blood pressure can damage your health.


Chikungunya—a painful mosquito-borne disease—hits United States

Sept. 27, 2014—It’s arrived: Chikungunya—an often painful and sometimes debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by the chikungunya virus—has surfaced in the United States. While American chikungunya cases have until now occurred only in travelers who acquired it overseas—about 28 a year since 2006—the virus has now spread through mosquitoes in the United States.

Historically, chikungunya (pronounced chik-un-GUHN-ya) has been limited to countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In late 2013, however, it was reported in the Caribbean for the first time.

So far this year, more than 1,000 people in the U.S. have contracted chikungunya while abroad, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But since July, at least nine people have contracted the disease from mosquitos in Florida.

Due to outbreaks in the Caribbean and elsewhere, CDC expects that more American travelers will be infected. CDC cautioned that these imported cases could mean that the virus will spread further in the United States.

How it spreads

The chikungunya virus is spread by mosquitoes: After one bites someone who is infected, it passes the virus on to the next person it bites. Two species of mosquito carry the virus: Aedes aegypti, which is found in the southeastern United States and parts of the Southwest, and Aedes albopictus, found in the Southeast, East Coast, Mid-Atlantic and lower Midwest regions and parts of the Southwest. Both species bite mostly during the daytime.

Symptoms and treatment

Chikungunya’s most common symptoms are fever and severe joint pain, frequently in the hands and feet. While the virus is rarely fatal, it can cause headaches, rashes, muscle pain and swollen joints. Most people will feel better in a week, though joint pain can linger for months.

Although there is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for chikungunya, protection against mosquito bites can help stop the spread of the virus. If you have symptoms of chikungunya, tell your doctor—especially if you’ve recently traveled.


The take-home message
With no vaccine yet available—and the recent emergence of chikungunya in the United States—it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from mosquitoes. Avoiding a bite will not only keep you safe from chikungunya, but it can also protect you from other diseases mosquitoes can spread, such as the West Nile virus.

Here’s your best defense against bites, according to CDC:

Cover up. Headed outside? Then wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.

Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Choose a repellent with one of these active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, para-menthane-diol or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Follow the instructions on the product. Do not use oil of lemon eucalyptus on children younger than 3 years old. Do not spray repellant on skin covered by clothing.

If you’re doubling up with insect repellent and sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first. Always follow the label instructions when using sunscreen.

Use permethrin on gear and clothes. Treat clothing, shoes and camping gear with certain products containing this repellant/insecticide. Treated items will repel and kill mosquitoes and ticks through several washings.

Mosquito-proof your home. Install screens on doors and windows to keep mosquitoes outside. Keep cool with air conditioning. You can help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by regularly emptying standing water from gutters, flowerpots, birdbaths and pool covers. To stay current on chikungunya developments in the United States, visit the CDC website for updates.


Memorial’s Childbirth Education Classes

Having a baby changes everything, and it’s an especially difficult transition for families who are experiencing childbirth for the first time – or for teens who might be preparing for an unplanned pregnancy.

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital offers a number of childbirth education classes to help women and their partners adjust during this special time in their lives. Women are encouraged to register for classes once they’ve reached the 25th week of pregnancy. Classes include basic childbirth education, baby basics, breast feeding and a boot camp for new dads.

Teresa Posada, Memorial’s childbirth education coordinator, talked about these classes Sept. 23, 2014 on KIT 1280.

  • Childbirth education classes teach you and your labor partner what to expect on the day you go into labor. From learning how to time contractions to what comfort measures you should use for labor, this class will give you the tools you need to help guide you through this journey.  Classes are also offered in Spanish.
  • Young and Pregnant Childbirth Education class designed especially for teen moms – If you are a teen who is pregnant and wanting more information on pregnancy and labor this class is for you. Our Young and Pregnant class is geared for the teen mom and a support person, and focuses not only on labor but on other issues that teens face when pregnant. Moms receive a free car seat upon completion of the class. Classes are offered in both English and Spanish.
  • Breastfeeding can be a special bonding time for you and your baby and is also the best nourishment you can give to him or her.  Our breastfeeding class can teach you how to get started and get through those first few weeks when breastfeeding can be most challenging.
  • There is a lot to know when it comes to taking care of an infant.  Our baby basics class teaches you all about baby care, diapering, swaddling, taking your baby’s temperature, bathing and more.
  • If you are a first time father, Boot Camp may be just the class for you. This workshop will prepare you on how to support your partner, and you will learn how to engage with your new infant once he/she arrives. Boot Camp for New Dads gives you the confidence to go through the journey of becoming a dad.

Once your baby arrives, Memorial continues to offer you the support you may need.  Our Mom and Baby group meets every Monday from 10 am to noon where moms can bring their baby ages 0 to 12 months to connect with other moms and babies.  It is a great resource where you can ask parenting questions, hear from different presenters on many different topics relating to your child and to just feel connected.

These classes are designed for you to have a relatively more enjoyable labor, feel less stress about delivery and medical interventions, and ultimately feel empowered to handle just about any labor scenario that nature throws your way.  Couples who’ve had childbirth classes generally rate their childbirth experience as more satisfying overall than those who haven’t.

For more information, call Teresa Posada at 248-7322

Measles is back in America, but there’s a simple solution | Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital

Sept. 25, 2014—The United States is experiencing its biggest surge of measles cases since the disease was declared to be eliminated from the country in 2000, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And the majority of those cases are among groups of unvaccinated people.

A virus on the go

Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 29 of 2014, 592 cases of measles were reported to CDC. That’s a huge jump: In the last 13 years, the yearly number of cases has climbed above 100 only four times, with the highest—in 2011, when there was an outbreak in France—just topping 200.

The majority of those cases are the result of foreign travel. In many parts of the world, measles is still common. Most of the cases this year are a result of an outbreak in the Philippines. It is all too easy for unvaccinated travelers to contract the highly contagious virus abroad and bring it to the United States, where it may continue to spread—which it does easily among communities of unvaccinated people.

Read the original report here.

The best protection

Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious, according to CDC, that one infected person will infect 90 percent of the people around him or her—unless those people are protected.

And vaccination—whether or not you plan to travel out of the country—is your best protection against measles.

Being vaccinated also helps to prevent the virus’s spread to vulnerable populations, such as infants too young to be vaccinated and people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Make sure you and your family are up-to-date on the measles vaccine, which is typically delivered in two doses as part of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) or measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (MMRV) vaccines.

If you’ve traveled abroad or have been around someone who is sick, keep an eye out for these telltale signs of a measles infection:

  • Initial fever followed by cough, runny nose and red eyes.
  • A rash of tiny red spots. The rash starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body.

Measles is not without danger—it can cause death and serious complications, especially in children younger than 5 years and adults age 20 and older.

Think you know everything about vaccination—or want to know more? Test your knowledge with this vaccines quiz.

Stay safe from stomach bugs at the country fair

Make hand hygiene a priority!

Do your autumn plans include a trip to a country fair?  Spending a day at the fair is fun, but it’s important to make hand hygiene an important part of your day, especially if you will be coming into contact with certain animals.

E. coli O157:H7 infections are associated with animal contact at fairs, petting zoos, or animal exhibition halls. E. coli O157:H7 is commonly found in cattle, goats, and sheep. Outbreaks associated with these animals are common. People who contact these animals at any venue, public or private, are at risk for infection with E. coli O157:H7 as well as a variety of other germs including Salmonella and Campylobacter.

How germs are spread

People typically become ill by getting germs on their hands after touching the animals or contaminated surfaces, and then swallowing the germs while eating, drinking, or during other hand-to-mouth activities. Germs that can make you sick can be present on the fur, or in the saliva of the animals, in the soil where these animals are kept, or on surfaces such as fence railings of animal pens.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 illness typically include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever. People typically become ill 2 to 5 days after exposure, but this time period can range from 1 to at least 8 days. Most people recover in 5 to 10 days; however, E. coli O157:H7 infections sometimes lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli that can lead to kidney failure. HUS most commonly affects children and the elderly. Diarrhea associated with an E. coli O157:H7 infection should NOT be treated with antibiotics, as this practice can promote the development of HUS.

How to prevent the risk of infection

Risk associated with animal contact can be reduced through the following measures:

  • Visitors to animal exhibits should be made aware that even healthy, well-tended animals can have germs that can make people seriously ill.
  • Food, drinks, and items that promote hand-to-mouth contact (for example, pacifiers) should not be brought into animal areas.
  • Hands should be washed with soap and water immediately after visiting the animals. Hand sanitizers are not a substitute for soap and running water but may afford some protection until soap and water are available. They do not work well against some germs and when hands are visibly soiled.

Children under 5 years of age, seniors, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions or a weakened immune system are at risk for serious complications from E. coli infections and should take extra care around animals.

*News alert courtesy of APIC (Association for Professionals in Infection Control) To learn more visit:

Drugs like Xanax & Valium may increase Alzheimer risk by 51 percent

Sept. 22, 2014—Up to 43 percent of older adults turn to benzodiazepines, including Valium and Xanax, to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia. And while the drugs are already known to affect memory and cognition, a new study suggested that benzodiazepines could also raise the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

About the study

Researchers analyzed data on nearly 9,000 adults over age 66, including 1,796 with Alzheimer’s disease. Roughly half of those with Alzheimer’s disease had taken benzodiazepines in the 5 to 10 years preceding their diagnosis. Forty percent of those without Alzheimer’s disease had used them in the same period. Overall, those who’d taken the meds were up to 43 percent to 51 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who hadn’t.

The relationship appeared to be dose-dependent. While participants who took benzodiazepines for fewer than 90 days had the same Alzheimer’s risk as those who’d never used them at all, the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease increased with exposure. The risk was greater for those who took them for more than six months than it was for those who took them for between three and six months. Using long-acting medications, too, was found to be riskier than using short-acting ones.

Despite the evidence, researchers couldn’t rule out an alternative theory that benzodiazepine use might be an early marker of dementia rather than a cause. Benzodiazepines are often prescribed to treat anxiety or sleep disorders in older adults, symptoms that may be associated with heightened risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Still, the findings reinforce the suspicion that long-term benzodiazepine users may be at an increased likelihood for developing Alzheimer’s disease. While the drugs remain valuable short-term tools for treating anxiety and insomnia, the researchers recommend that health care providers carefully consider the benefits and risks associated with benzodiazepines before prescribing them to older patients.

Read the study, published in the BMJ, here.


The take-home message
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, a decline in mental function caused by damage to brain cells. While risk factors like age and genetics can’t be changed, you may be able to reduce your risk by keeping your heart healthy, exercising regularly and eating a Mediterranean-style diet.Growing evidence also suggests that benzodiazepines, a class of medication known to affect memory and cognition, could also play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Long-term use and long-acting drugs may be riskier than short-term use or short-acting drugs. If you or an adult you know is thinking about taking benzodiazepines to cope with a chronic problem, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons with a health care provider.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can vary greatly. However, it’s important to be familiar with common warning signs, such as:

  • Memory loss or confusion that disrupts daily life
  • Trouble planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks

If you begin to notice these symptoms in yourself or an older adult, consult a doctor. Early diagnosis offers the best opportunities for treatment, support and planning for the future.

Loss of memory and brain function are the most common signs of Alzheimer’s, but there are other symptoms. You can learn about diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s here.


Dueling diets: Which one takes off the most weight?

Sept. 20, 2014—Atkins. Jenny Craig. Weight Watchers. Zone. When it comes to name-brand diet plans, the question on many people’s minds is, “Which one works best?”

A group of researchers decided to find out, and their results were published in September in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The answer? Drum roll, please!

The diet plan that works best is the one that you’re most likely to stick with, and all of them were found to be better than no diet plan.

Branded diets go head-to-head

Researchers searched six medical databases for studies that put overweight or obese participants on different name-brand diets and tracked the people’s weight loss at 6 months and 12 months. The final analysis included 48 clinical trials, involving a total of 7,286 adults.

Low-carbohydrate diets included Atkins and Zone. Low-fat diets included Rosemary Conley and (Dr. Dean) Ornish. Diets that moderately restricted carbohydrates, fats and proteins included Jenny Craig, Volumetrics and Weight Watchers.

Researchers compared the weight-loss results of each diet plan to those of control diets (which they termed “no diet”). In the end, the Ornish, Rosemary Conley, Jenny Craig and Atkins diet plans compared most favorably to no diet after 12 months, with an average weight loss of about 14 pounds. However, that was only slightly better than results from Zone, Weight Watchers and Volumetrics—which averaged a little more than 13 pounds.

In other words, the diets were much the same in terms of the total amount of weight people might lose after one year. Researchers concluded that the differences were so slight that the best diet for any person is the one he or she will stick to.

You can read more about the study here.

The take-home message
You can lose a significant amount of weight on any of these diets—but only if you stick to it, the authors wrote. So the ideal diet for you is the one you can stay on.

The key to losing weight is to burn more calories than you eat and drink. It might be easier for you to do that by eating fewer carbs, eating fewer fats or eating less of both.

Of course, you don’t have to follow a name-brand diet plan. Here are three tips from the Weight-control Information Network, a service of the National Institutes of Health, that can help you design your own healthy diet:

  • Emphasize healthy foods. Fill at least half of every plate with fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat small portions. Read the nutrition facts label on foods so you know the size of one serving.
  • Be physically active every day. Schedule a walk or bicycle ride after every lunch or dinner, for example.

If you need more help on pulling together a good diet or you need more advice on losing weight in a healthful manner, visit your doctor.


Take steps to protect children against illness


Contact: Shannon Dininny, Memorial Communications, (509) 577-5051

Take steps to protect children against illness

Sept. 17, 2014

Some Washington children are experiencing symptoms of severe respiratory illness. Health officials are investigating whether these symptoms may be tied to a virus known as Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68. There are no confirmed cases of EV-D68 in the state, but parents can take steps to help protect their children against respiratory illness.

To prevent EV-D68 and other respiratory illness, wash hands with soap and water, because hand sanitizers are not as effective against viruses. Cover your mouth when you cough. Stay home if you are sick, and keep children home when they are sick. You also should regularly disinfect some areas in your home, such as countertops, door knobs and your children’s toys.

Mild symptoms of EV-D68 include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and body and muscle aches. More severe symptoms include shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Children with asthma are more susceptible to the virus; parents of children with asthma should make sure they are current on medications and have an updated asthma care plan.

Contact your doctor, or consider visiting the emergency room, if your child is having difficulty breathing, such as audible wheezing or signs of distress and fear as they try to take a breath.

For more information, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website at



CONTACTO: Shannon Dininny, Memorial Communications, (509) 577-5051

Tome medidas preventivas para proteger a los niños de enfermedades

Septiembre 17 del 2014

Algunos niños de Washington están experimentando síntomas de una severa enfermedad respiratoria. Los oficiales de salud están investigando si estos síntomas podrían están relacionados a un virus conocido como el Enterovirus D68 o EV-D68. No hay casos confirmados de EV-D68 en el estado, pero los padres de familia pueden tomar precaución para proteger a sus niños de enfermedades respiratorias.

Para prevenir el  EV-D68 y otras enfermedades respiratorias, lávese las manos con agua y jabón, porque el desinfectante para manos no es tan efectivo contras los virus. Cúbrase su boca cuando tosa. Quédese en casa si esta enfermo y mantenga sus niños en casa cuando estén enfermos. También deberá usar desinfectante regularmente en algunas áreas de su casa, como los bancos o mostradores, agarraderas de las puertas y los juguetes de sus niños.

Síntomas moderados del EV-D68 incluyen fiebre, secreción nasal, estornudos, tos y dolor muscular. Síntomas mas severos incluyen respiración corta y dificultad para respirar, los niños con asma son más susceptibles a este virus; los padres de niños con asma deben  asegurarse que sus niños están al corriente con sus medicamentos y que tienen un plan actualizado para el cuidado del asma.

Contacte al medico o considere visitar la sala de emergencia si su niño tiene dificultad para respirar, como sibilancias (ruido similar a un silbido al respirar) o signos de distres (ansiedad) y miedo cuando están tratando de respirar.


Para mas información  visite el Centro para el control de enfermedades del los Estados Unidos en el