Tag Archives: primary care doctor

In Case of Emergency: FAST

Vantage Point: Act FAST

Due to its beauty, 4 distinct seasons, diverse recreation opportunities, and 300-plus days a year of sunshine, North Central Washington is a paradise to many. Living here helps to promote a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude.

For several years, North Central Washington has also been known for the inevitability of summer wildfires. And last year, with the towns of Carlton and Pateros burning, and this year, with the town of Wenatchee on fire, it’s put a whole new meaning on how devastating, scarring, and unpredictable wildfires can be and how important it is to act fast when one occurs. The same can be said for a stroke.

A stroke is an often unrecognized, true emergency, cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Strokes are the second-leading cause of death for people 60 years or older worldwide, the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, and a leading cause of serious long-term adult disability.

Strokes can happen to anyone, at any time, regardless of race, sex, or age. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, smoking, diabetes, poor circulation, inactivity, obesity, and family history. You can learn more by visiting the National Stroke Association’s Stroke Awareness website, but the best action you can take is to get regular checkups with your primary care doctor, so together you can formulate your own prevention plan.

There are two types of strokes, ischemic and hemorrhagic, and during a stroke, 2 million brain cells die every minute, increasing risk of permanent brain damage and disability. Therefore, recognizing symptoms and acting fast to get medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities. The sooner you call 911, the better chance there is of recovery. So remember, “FAST” stands for:

  • Face, look for an uneven smile.
  • Arms, check to see if one arm is weak or unable to move.
  • Speech, listen for slurred speech or inability to speak.
  • Time, call 911 at the first sign.

Like natural disasters, many times, health concerns such as strokes come with no warning or time to prepare, so it’s important to have adequate health insurance coverage. Our expert and local customer service representatives are always here to help our members understand all their health insurance benefits, especially in the case of an emergency, so they can worry less and focus on what is most important, enjoying the North Central Washington good life.

Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. She has four adult sons and two grandsons. During her time off, she performs as part of a rodeo drill team on her horse, Skeeter.

Preventing Colorectal Cancer

A Cancer You Can Help Prevent with Screening

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 93,090 new cases of colon cancer in 2015 and another 36,610 cases of rectal cancer.

Your risk of getting colorectal cancer is 1 in 20. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It will kill nearly 50,000 people this year alone.

But it doesn’t have to.

Colorectal cancer is also highly preventable. Screenings can find polyps, or small abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Over time, these polyps can become cancer. Removing them before that happens can save lives.

These screenings also can catch cancer at an early stage, and treatment at this point often leads to being cured. About 9 out of every 10 people with this type of cancer who get treatment early are still alive in 5 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies are screening exams for colorectal cancer, and they’re very similar procedures. In both, a doctor looks for polyps with small cameras.

People are usually given medicine to relax and sleep during a colonoscopy. Once you’re 50, you should start having this done once every 10 years depending on your risk for colorectal cancer.

People usually don’t need medicine before a sigmoidoscopy, and this test is usually done once every 5 years.

While the number of people getting these screenings has been slowly growing, many more lives could be saved.

In 2010, it was estimated that only 60% of those who should be getting these tests were getting them. About 1 in 3 Americans, or 23 million adults between 50 and 75 years old aren’t getting tested. Medicare-aged adults in particular aren’t getting this important test.

According to the American Cancer Society, the number of colon cancer deaths in the U.S. could be cut in half if Americans followed the recommended screening guidelines.

And it’s so easy to protect yourself! Just talk to your primary care doctor about your risk for colorectal cancer and when and how often you should get screened.