Friday, January 6, 2017

Winter health woes, glaucoma awareness month and more

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 10:00 AM


Winter Woes Are Upon Us

The research is in and it turns out cold weather is not that great for your health. While cold weather may make you less inclined to think violent thoughts, you are also less inclined to be kind and forgiving. Intimacy is out the window, but that might be okay since your skin is like sandpaper anyway. And just as the risk for falls and serious injury is real, so is the increased risk for getting sick with a cold or the flu.

Annoying optimists try to put a positive spin on it —“Cold weather reduces the number of tree-killing bugs!” “It’s great for sleeping!” But there’s really not much to like. Still, the days are getting longer and in just a few months your driveway may feature bare pavement again.


January is glaucoma awareness month and if you think you don’t have it, you may want to think again. The NIH reports that 50 percent of people who have glaucoma don’t know they have it. That’s because early on, there are no symptoms, just gradual damage to the optic nerve that eventually causes blindness. Only a doctor’s eye exam can rule out the disease.

If you’re over the age of 60 (or age 40 if African American), or have a family history of glaucoma, get screened. Early detection and treatment can save your vision.

Peanut Possibilities
Life-threatening reactions to peanuts (and school offices filled with epi-pens) may someday be a thing of the past. New research sheds light on how parents can help children avoid a peanut allergy simply by introducing peanuts into babies’ diets at a very young age.

Try Out Fitness
Now's the time to sign up to sample a workout class at Spokane Health and Fitness Expo. Here’s a chance to try something new— from KangooJumps to Bootcamp to Pound.Rockout.Workout. There’s no need to stick with a dull workout routine in 2017. Seminars are also offered on an array of nutrition topics, including how to make nut milks. $8 admission includes unlimited classes; Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, January 14-15.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Carrie Fisher's death inspires a heart-health checkup for women; plus, flex-spending and kid time

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 11:40 AM

Actress Carrie Fisher died this week after a heart attack.
  • Actress Carrie Fisher died this week after a heart attack.


For Star Wars fans, the news of the death of Princess Leia, actress Carrie Fisher, at age 60 from a heart attack seemed astonishing. But here are some surprising facts from the Women’s Heart Foundation:
• 83,000 American women under the age of 65 have heart attacks each year
• Heart attacks account for a third of all deaths in women
• 71 percent of women experience early warning signs of heart attack with sudden onset of weakness that feels like the flu—often with no chest pain at all.

About the only good news? “Women’s hearts respond better than men’s to healthy lifestyle changes."

Flexible Spending account about to expire?
If you have set money aside in a flexible spending account to cover health care expenses, be aware that the time to use it is rapidly diminishing as the year draws to a close. On the upside, you might be surprised at all the things you can buy. Some require a doctor's note, but there are many things you can purchase without a note. So don’t waste that hard-earned cash, spend it!

Kid Time
Worried your kids aren’t make the most of their potential during this holiday break? Take a tip from the Danes, and let them play, unhindered by adult intervention. You’ll enjoy it, and so will they.
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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Joyful reading, healthy happiness and empowering patients

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 3:30 PM

The Dalai Lama and Archbish0p Desmond Tutu are featured in a new book that might be the perfect last-minute gift you need.
  • The Dalai Lama and Archbish0p Desmond Tutu are featured in a new book that might be the perfect last-minute gift you need.

Book of Joy

If you’re still short of a gift for someone impossible to buy for, consider the Book of Joy. The book recounts the rendezvous of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. From the silly to the sublime, the search for joy has made the book an Amazon No. 1 bestseller. Log on at the website to take the 30 day challenge — “micromissions” will be delivered to phones each day guide participants to find the “joy they desire.”

Does Happy Make Healthy?
Researchers want to know why happiness seems to correlate with health. In April, a “health and happiness” center opened at Harvard. Noting that American medicine is primarily focussed on disease, the new center’s mission is “to make discoveries that can inform personal behaviors, medical care, public health programs, and wide-ranging public policies not traditionally associated with health care and medicine but that can help people live longer, happier, and healthier lives.”

Penalties for Infection
As part of a Medicare emphasis aimed at decreasing hospital-acquired infections, three area hospitals are scheduled to lose 1 percent of all Medicare payments for the fiscal year that started in October 2016 and runs through September 2017. “Each year, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, including nearly a quarter million cases in hospitals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 23,000 people die from them,” according to a December 21, 2016 Kaiser Health News story. Locally, Deaconess Medical Center, Providence Holy Family and Valley Hospital made the list of “769 Hospitals Penalized for Patient Safety.”

Read more about hospital safety in InHealth’s Empowered Patient series.
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Divided doctors, Santa Express and not-so-merry mumps in Spokane County

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Tom Price, a controversial choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration.
  • Tom Price, a controversial choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration.

Just in time for the holidays…
Two new cases of mumps have been reported in Spokane County. The Spokane Regional Health District reports the affected 10-year-old and 20-year-old were fully immunized. The two new cases are not linked to four cases that occurred at Whitworth University earlier in the fall. 

Mumps, which spreads easily and causes swelling of the cheeks and jaw, along with fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, is generally mild in children but more serious in adults. Before 2016, the last reported mumps case in Spokane County was in 2009. There have been more than 70 cases statewide this year. Two doses of the MMR vaccine greatly reduce the likelihood of contracting the mumps, and the disease is usually milder in vaccinated individuals.

Doctors Divided
The American Medical Association offered a warmly supportive statement of support for Georgia Congressman Tom Price, nominated to head the Department of Health and Human Services. “Dr. Price has been a leader in the development of health policies to advance patient choice and market-based solutions as well as reduce excessive regulatory burdens that diminish time devoted to patient care and increase costs.”

But this week, more than 5700 practicing physicians signed a petition titled “The AMA does not speak for us.” Among other contentions, the petition states, “We believe that in issuing this statement of support for Dr. Price, the AMA has reneged on a fundamental pledge that we as physicians have taken — to protect and advance care for our patients.”

Kids shop to help kids
The Santa Express offers a chance for area children (ages 4-12) to purchase affordable gifts, with all the proceeds going to the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. The nursery offers drop-off childcare for parents who are having trouble caring for their kids, whether from substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness or just being "exhausted and worn out from the demands of parenting." Santa Express is open Monday through Friday until December 23 in the skywalk level at 707 W. Main; the phone number is 340-0479.
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Friday, December 9, 2016

Healthcare at risk, coding opportunities for kids and gingerbread build-off

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 2:30 PM

The annual Gingerbread Build-off at the Davenport on Sunday benefits Christ Kitchen's work providing work, training and fellowship for women in poverty.
  • The annual Gingerbread Build-off at the Davenport on Sunday benefits Christ Kitchen's work providing work, training and fellowship for women in poverty.

A Healthy Experience?
Big changes seem to be on the horizon for health care. There’s plenty of speculation about what Congress and a new president will do to the Affordable Care Act in the next year. But the Kaiser Health Foundation reports the secretary of Health and Human Services, an agency with a $1 trillion budget, has surprisingly broad powers to affect the health of every American all by himself. ‘“Virtually everything people do every day is impacted by the way the Department of Health and Human Services is run,” said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in the report. Tapped to head the department is Tom Price, a six-term Republican congressman from Georgia (a state currently ranked 46th in health cost, outcomes and access). If confirmed, Price could eliminate the ACA’s coverage of birth control at no additional cost, “water down” rules about tobacco products, and expand the scope of “conscience objections” by health care providers, among other things.

Get Coding
With the discouraging news that not only has life expectancy declined for the first time in decades, but also that kids today are much less likely to earn more than their parents, here’s a bright spot. Hour of Code encourages students of all ages to become familiar with computer programming. There are dozens of one-hour lessons to choose from. Though demand for programmers is subsiding from the red-hot trend of the early 2000s, median income for programmers was still more than $79K in 2015. But does money really buy happiness and health? Not always, but it doesn’t seem to hurt. According to a MacArthur Foundation Policy Brief, those living in more affluent neighborhoods enjoy better health and are happier.

Gingerbread House
Check out the annual gingerbread build-off on Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm at the Davenport Grand Hotel. Watching the teams create their majestic works from lowly cookies and Royal Icing is free; build and take home your own creation for $7. Proceeds benefit Christ Kitchen, which provides work, training and fellowship for women in poverty.
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Friday, December 2, 2016

Healthier health insurance, cutting-edge radiology and new issue on the street

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Former EWU professor Larry Kraft, 91, is one of six local athletes profiled in the new issue of InHealth illustrating a workout/life balance.
  • Former EWU professor Larry Kraft, 91, is one of six local athletes profiled in the new issue of InHealth illustrating a workout/life balance.

InHealth new issue on stands now!
Six local athletes-who-work share the secrets of balancing a career and fitness.

Healthier Health Insurance
In spite of all the political fretting about health insurance, NPR reports that the number of Americans who report they are struggling to pay medical bills has "plummeted" — down by 22 percent in the last five years.

In Washington State, the health plan exchange is "thriving" according to a report by the Wakely Consulting Group. Each Dec. 1, state law requires a formal update on the health of the Washington Health Plan Exchange. This year's report showed the exchange has attracted more insurers, creating more competition and stabilizing rates. "We hope our experience informs federal discussions as we transition to a new administration seeking to repeal the ACA,” says the Exchange's CEO Pam MacEwan in a press release.

The Spokane Shriners Hospital opens a new radiology suite Friday.
  • The Spokane Shriners Hospital opens a new radiology suite Friday.

On the Down Low

The Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane is cutting the ribbon today on a new radiology suite, with equipment designed to dramatically lower the dosage of radiation children receive from imaging. Shriner's new imaging system, unique in Washington state, can decrease radiation exposure by as much as 85 percent over the course of treatment.
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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Teens' sugar rush, potential breakthrough in polycystic ovarian syndrome and more

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 3:16 PM

A bathtub of orange soda
  • A bathtub of orange soda

Try Water!
Startling news that British teens drink enough sugary drinks to fill a bathtub every year. If you've been around a group of teens here in the U.S. you can feel pretty confident they are keeping up with their counterparts in the U.K. Researchers there advocate slapping a tax on sugar-laden beverages.

Two Benefits, One Drug
A new study shows people taking a class of medication called thiazide diuretics to control high blood pressure have a lower risk of fractures. The connection seems reasonable. "It is well known that thiazide therapy can lower calcium excretion into the urine by as much as 50 percent," said Dr. Caroline Messer, who reviewed the new findings.

Jennifer Myers suffered for years with symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome. - MAC BOOEY
  • Mac Booey
  • Jennifer Myers suffered for years with symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Resveratrol for Hormone Disorder

For women suffering with polycystic ovarian syndrome, the symptoms can be distressing, as Linda Hagen Miller writes in the current issue of InHealth.

"Women have burst into tears in my office out of relief when I tell them they have polycystic ovarian syndrome," says Providence's R. Steven Brisbois. "They are just so relieved to be able to put a name to what is going on in their bodies, and to find out what can be done to control PCOS symptoms."

Up till now, treatment involved birth control pills or metformin. But a new study shows resveratrol, the substance that occurs naturally in grapes, nuts and red wine, may be helpful.

"For women with PCOS whose symptoms are being treated conventionally with hormones and/or metformin, resveratrol may be a better alternative—in the short term,” says Andrew Rubman, ND. The dose required is too large to get through food, so interested women will have to find a resveratrol supplement.
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

U.S. healthcare behind industrialized peers, tackling local teen health and more

Posted By and on Thu, Nov 17, 2016 at 12:47 PM


Marijuana Benefits

In a newly published study examining the results of 60 published reports, Canadian researchers found marijuana shows promise in treating PTSD, depression and social anxiety. "Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication," the study’s author explains. (ANNE MCGREGOR)

Not Great Yet
In 2016, U.S. healthcare accessibility and affordability still lagged behind other nations, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. "In comparison to adults in the other 10 countries, adults in the U.S. are sicker and more economically disadvantaged. The resulting challenge to the U.S. health system is compounded by higher health care costs, greater income disparities, and relatively low levels of spending on social services,” according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund. On the plus side, access to specialists and coordinated hospital discharge planning were areas in which the U.S. system performed well. (ANNE MCGREGOR)

Healthy Teens Fundraiser
“Any community health assessment report out there, adolescents are always an underserved population,” says Angela Matson of Group Health in Eastern Washington and Spokane.

That’s why the Seattle-based Group Health Foundation has launched a pilot program aimed at improving adolescent health. A newly formed local group, Group Health Foundation Network—Inland Empire, began raising money Nov. 15. Come January 31, the Foundation will match donations on a 4:1 basis, meaning up to $125,000 could become available for local adolescent health projects. Beneficiaries of the fundraiser haven’t been determined. “The first goal is to raise the money, and then we will take the proposal out to the community. Our hope is that we will be able to fund at least six organizations,” Matson says.

For more information on the Group Health Foundation, or to donate, go here. (HAYLEE MILLIKAN)
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Friday, November 4, 2016

Election anxiety, a soothing playlist and the mystical powers of eggs

Posted By on Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 1:24 PM


Love and Kindness!

Just a few more days until Election 2016 is in the books and we’re having a collective fit. Anecdotal reports of election anxiety— with symptoms including nightmares, insomnia and stomach upset — are rampant. Time to chill out. Time Magazine to the rescue. Among their more challenging, but ultimately healing, ways to get rid of election stress is to practice sending “good vibes to people of a different political party…Start by sending them to someone you know, then someone you feel neutral about, then a person you struggle with—someone you’ve been arguing with about the election, for instance. 'Send out love and kindness to that person…We are all human beings, and elections will come and go, but our relationships with other people are more important.'"

If you’re having trouble sleeping, check out the current issue of InHealth.

Health and Harmonies Banish the election blues by turning up the tunes. Our brains just feel better when music is playing. “Some call it mood maintenance, saying that our music selection is a form of psychological self-help, self-care, and emotional regulation.” Here’s a playlist of upbeat songs to get you started on post-election recovery. 

Life and Eggs The oldest woman in the world eats two raw eggs a day. We don't know if all the eggs led to longevity, but we do know that a great breakfast can lead to a great day. Here are Bon Appetit's tips to take the ultimate comfort food, scrambled eggs, to new heights this weekend.
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Thursday, October 27, 2016

U.S. care quality stagnant, freakishly fit birds and martinis for river health

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 4:16 PM

Spokane Riverkeeper Jerry White is one of the folks you'll likely find at the Dirty Martinis for Clean Water benefit Nov. 4. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Spokane Riverkeeper Jerry White is one of the folks you'll likely find at the Dirty Martinis for Clean Water benefit Nov. 4.

One Step Forward…

With new technologies, treatments and near-miraculous medications, you might think health care in the U.S. has been continuously improving. But you’d be wrong. A new study looking at representative samples of thousands patients from 2002 to 2013 showed that fewer than half, 42 percent, were receiving recommended treatment, though satisfaction with access to care and physician communication grew. ”The take-home for patients: there is likely recommended care that you are not receiving but should, and there is likely extra care that you are receiving and could be harmful to you," says study author Dr. David Levine.

A Toast to the River
Did you know the Spokane River flows 112 miles, encountering seven dams along its route from the Post Falls Dam to Lake Roosevelt? Or that as many as 17 species of fish call the river home? Show your support for a “fishable and swimmable” Spokane River at the Dirty Martinis for Clean Water event on Friday November 4.

Swift Humans and Swift Birds 
A common swift
  • A common swift
The Spokane Swifts Running Club is offering the opportunity to get out of the house and burn some extra calories before the food debacle that is Halloween. The Monster Dash Fun Run at Manito Park, sponsored by the Swifts, is this Sunday Oct. 30. Registration begins at 8:30 am, with the adult 5K at 10 am, and a kids' race at 11 am.

The bird-variety swift is in the news after research revealed that European swifts spend virtually their entire lives in flight; some of the birds studied as they migrated from Europe to Africa and back did not land a single time in 10 months. Yet they live up to 20 years. “In that time, the bird could have flown the equivalent distance to the moon and back seven times.”
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