August 16, 2011
With cloud cover not only being common, but seemingly the norm around Puget Sound, many locals may not be overly worried about exposure to the sun and the possibility of skin cancer such exposure can cause.
That might be a big mistake according to area doctors and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the CDC, the rate of new melanoma diagnoses in the state are 35 percent higher than the national average from 2001-2005. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
The occurrences of melanoma in the state was the fifth highest in the country. An estimated 1,900 state residents were diagnosed with melanoma in 2008. The two most common forms of skin cancer — basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas — are highly curable, according to Roger Muller, senior medical director for United Healthcare of Washington.
Melanomas are not. Approximately 175 people in Washington die of melanoma each year, according to the CDC. That’s the 16th highest melanoma death rate nationally and 7.4 percent higher than the national average. In a seemingly odd statistic given our local climate, Washington’s Island County is among the top 10 counties in the country for new melanoma cases striking the area at the dangerous clip of 130 percent above the national average.
“At first blush, I can see how the numbers could be surprising given that much of the year here is cloudy,” said Arlo Miller, a dermatologist with Virginia Mason Issaquah. “However, digging into melanoma risk factors … it actually makes a lot of sense.”
February 15, 2011
Students typically learn about sexually transmitted infections starting in fifth grade, but many people, post-graduation, get no such reminder unless they get one.
Of course, the best way to avoid what people commonly call an STD, or STI, is to skip sex.
“Abstinence is the only 100 percent way to avoid an STI,” Victoria Fletcher, director of clinician services for Planned Parenthood, said. “Abstinence, or being in a long-term monogamous relationship, definitely has a place in preventing STIs.”
The sexually active can reduce the spread of a virus by using condoms, Overlake Medical Center Issaquah family medicine doctor Christy Gibson said. Receive free condoms this week, and any week, from Planned Parenthood in Issaquah, 75 N.W. Dogwood St., Suite B. The clinic is open on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Many times, people will visit their doctor and asked to be tested for everything, Planned Parenthood Health Center Manager Annelise Ring said. Instead of going that route, she suggested patients talk about their risks with their physician.
“We try to whittle it down to what they really need, so they’re not paying for a bunch of stuff they don’t really need,” Ring said.
October 12, 2010
Here he comes: the hulking middle linebacker. He cuts through the offensive line and jukes the blockers, heading toward the quarterback with explosive speed. The quarterback, now defenseless, has precious moments to brace himself before the defender pummels him.
The crowd flinches as the crack of the hit echoes through the stadium and the quarterback is whipped to the ground. For the linebacker, it’s a sack; for the quarterback, it’s a concussion.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies concussions as minor traumatic brain injuries that are the result of the bumps, blows or jolts to the head that cause the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. The motion alters the way the brain typically functions, according to the CDC. Read more
October 12, 2010
This year’s flu shot protects against three types of influenza: the H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and H1N1, also known as swine flu.
Flu shots combining vaccinations are not uncommon, said Virginia Mason Issaquah primary care doctor Ted Naiman, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Every year, it’s got multiple different ingredients,” he said. “Basically, what the CDC does is they look at the strains of influenzas the year before that made people the sickest and killed the most people, and they use those to make the next year’s vaccine.”
Influenza, a respiratory illness, can cause a multitude of symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue or vomiting.
Most people recover in two weeks, but sometimes the disease has complications leading to pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections.
Every year, between 5 percent and 20 percent of people get the flu, according to the CDC.
July 20, 2010
Go into any drugstore and you’re bound to run into a plethora of sunscreen options this summer. But do you really know what to look for?
Many people don’t, so you’re not alone.
“There are a lot of sunscreens out there,” Amy Cheng, a dermatologist with Virginia Mason Medical Center, said.
Even the federal Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have a consumer-friendly system of standards regulating the claims of companies who make sunscreen, despite the Sunburn Protection Factor label.
Since 2007, officials with the FDA have posted consumer updates on its website saying it’s in process of developing a set of standards, but those have yet to come to fruition. Read more
June 29, 2010
The Fourth of July is about enjoying the sun, if it decides to come out from behind the clouds, picnics and the exciting sounds and vast array of colors from lighting off fireworks.
In cities where fireworks are legal, stands opened this June 21. Although fireworks are illegal within the city limits of Issaquah, many people still ignite the dangerous explosives and quickly run away in order to watch the fiery display they put off.
“We want to remind residents of Washington to be safe,” said Karen Jones, deputy state fire marshal of the state fire marshal and data analysis. “Check the laws of your community as they change.”
According to the annual fireworks report put out by the Washington State Patrol, males ages 15-21 account for most fireworks-related injuries. In 2009, 200 firework related injuries were reported.
Hand and eye injuries are reported most, followed by head, face and ear injuries, according to the National Fire Protection Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites.
“Plan ahead for mishaps,” said Special Agent Phillip Whitley, of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
It’s also important to understand which fireworks are legal in your area, he said.
Fireworks should be left unaltered and only used as directed by the warning label that’s required by federal law. An improvised, altered firework can lead to burns, amputation of limbs and even death. Read more
June 15, 2010
Hands. They are often our first interactions with the world. They lift a mug of coffee to your lips. They greet new acquaintances with a firm grasp. They hold loved ones close in an embrace.
But when rheumatoid arthritis took away Issaquah resident Meredith Froemke’s ability to lift or greet or hold, her world got much smaller.
“The disease was so misunderstood by the outside world,” Froemke said,” that I didn’t have the courage to come forward, because I found I was really discriminated against.”
Froemke was diagnosed with RA in 1993. She was 28.
“‘This has got to be a mistake,’” she thought. “I had never even seen anybody my age with rheumatoid arthritis.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2007 RA affected more seniors, but about 12 percent of Washington state residents between the ages of 18 and 44 were reported to have the condition. The autoimmune disease causes the lining in the joints to swell and eventually digest cartilage and bone. As the tissue degenerates, it usually causes the affected joint to lose its shape, causing a loss of range of motion and pain.
“One day I woke up, and I was so sick,” Froemke remembered. “I couldn’t move my jaw, my arms, my fingers, my legs, my neck. I was in a complete state of paralysis.”
She said the weight of her bed sheet felt like a house was sitting on her. Froemke was quickly diagnosed with RA, and she had to drastically alter her lifestyle to adapt to the condition. Read more
February 16, 2010
High stepping, ball bouncing and throwing a few upper cuts may sound like child’s play, but this is Issaquah seniors getting fit.
With more information and resources than ever, seniors are taking charge of their health through a variety of education and fitness opportunities at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center.
“I like the ball squeezing with the legs,” said Stephen Saunders, who celebrated his 87th birthday Feb. 1. “It’s just good for you. I missed a week and I’m still making up for it.”
“It’s great. I have so many that have kept coming since we started more than two years ago,” said fitness instructor Barbara Scott. “They have a contagious spirit and that’s what makes things fun.”
The Centers for Disease Control recommends two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, every week and overall muscle strength training two or more days a week for adults 65 years or older who are generally fit. Read more
January 19, 2010
State residents can now compare and research infection rates at hospitals across Washington with a new tool from the state Department of Health. Read more
December 15, 2009
With sleigh bells jingling and merry spirits, it’s likely you’re ready for the holidays, but is your heart?
Each year, nearly 785,000 Americans suffer a heart attack and more than 631,636 have heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. High cholesterol and high blood pressure, causes that lead to heart attacks and heart disease, are factors people should be aware of, according to Issaquah’s newest cardiologist, Dr. Elizabeth Gold.
Heart health is “essential, it makes us all go,” she said. “If your heart stops, that’s the definition of dying.
“There are a lot of issues with heart health,” she said. “One of the main ones is if you have a heart attack, severe enough, it could kill you. But there are other things that damage your heart muscle and can severely impact your quality of life.”
Those include heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, she said.
Gold started a new rotation with Virginia Mason’s Issaquah clinic Dec. 7 and has been helping patients and residents prepare to be more heart healthy this coming year.
The rotation program was started with the hope that patients would have more local access to specialists. With two successful cardiologist rotations in Bellevue and Kirkland, Gold’s rotation to Issaquah was a natural next step, according to Alisha Mark, director of communications for the hospital. Read more