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Tips to avoid heat stroke


Summer has arrived accompanied by some nice, warm weather this week.  While you are enjoying the outdoors, staff at Penobscot Valley Hospital would like to remind you to stay hydrated and take precautions against heat stroke and other heat-related disorders.  


Hydration is key when the temperature is soaring. When temperatures are high, the American Red Cross advises people to drink fluids periodically regardless of thirst, wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothes and take frequent breaks by stepping inside every so often. Check in on people who are alone and use a buddy system when exercising or working outside to ensure the heat doesn't deal an unnoticed, fatal blow.


Be alert for these signs of heat stress:


·         Heat cramps - signaled by muscle pain or spasms, usually in the legs or abdomen, that indicate the body is struggling from loss of fluids and electrolytes


·         Heat exhaustion - signaled by cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness or extreme fatigue  


·         Heat stroke - signaled by hot, red skin that may be dry, a change in consciousness, vomiting and high body temperature

While the elderly population is a greater risk for heat stroke, infants and children are also at risk. Never leave children or pets in a closed, hot car.  Infants, children and pets who are unattended in cars may suffer heat-related illness quickly, since the indoor temperature can rise to dangerous levels even in moderate weather. Cars should always be kept locked when not in use so that children may not enter them and become trapped. It is also important to monitor your infant’s temperature while sleeping in his/her crib.  

"Heat stroke can be life-threatening. Call 911 immediately for emergency assistance.  Move the person to a cooler place and apply cloth-wrapped ice, cold packs or wet towels to the wrists, ankles, groin, neck and armpits," says Dr. Paul Turnquist, PVH Emergency Department Physician. "As with heat exhaustion, remove or loosen tight clothing, lightly fan the person and slowly offer small amounts of water."

This article provided courtesy of Penobscot Valley Hospital and Quorum Health Resources (QHR).

Complete Lifestyle Change Program Curriculum Now Available

The National Diabetes Prevention Program recently added Post-Core material for Lifestyle Coaches and participants to the Curriculum Web page. You can now find the complete lifestyle change program curriculum and additional resources on the program’s Curriculum Web page.

Is your organization interested in information about how to deliver this curriculum in your community? If so, contact the Diabetes Training and Technical Assistance Center.

Did you know? The National Registry of Recognized Diabetes Prevention Programs lists contact information for more than 90 organizations that will implement community-based type 2 diabetes prevention programs in 24 states; the registry is updated periodically to add new locations.

Tips to Prevent Lyme Disease


MAY 22 - Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in Maine. Record high numbers of Lyme disease were reported in Maine during 2011. With this year’s mild winter, ticks may be active earlier so it is never too soon to start doing tick checks. Penobscot Valley Hospital would like to remind the community that May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.


What’s important to remember about Lyme disease?

·         Lyme disease is caused by bacteria which are spread through the bite of an infected deer tick.

·         A frequent symptom of Lyme disease that sometimes appears early on is a rash. The most common appearance is a uniformly red expanding rash. 

·         Other symptoms often occur such as:

o        fatigue

o        fever

o        headache

o        joint pain

o        muscle pain or a mildly stiff neck

·         Last, but not least, Lyme disease is preventable. The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid contact with the ticks that carry it.

If you are working, playing, or relaxing in areas that may have ticks you should do the following:

  • Wear light colored clothing (which make it easier to spot ticks) with long sleeve shirts and pants
  • Create an extra "no tick" zone by tucking your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants
  • Use insect repellent (with DEET) on your skin and apply permethrin (kills ticks on contact) to your clothes.
  • Check your clothing and skin carefully after being outdoors and remove ticks promptly
  • Wash the area of any possible tick bites thoroughly with soap and water, apply an antiseptic to the area of the bite
  • Mark on a calendar the date that you were bitten, let your physician know, then watch yourself for signs of Lyme disease or any changes in your personal health every day for the next month
  • Keep your lawn mowed, cut overgrown brush, and clear away leaf litter from your home
  • Inspect pets daily and remove any ticks found

Local Lyme disease advocate Bea Szantyr, MD states, “The longer the tick is attached the greater the risk of transmission of infection. Although we often think of less than a 24-hour attachment as being safe, in fact, cases have been reported in attachments of four hours or less. Additionally, some other infectors that travel in the same ticks may be transmitted more rapidly. Prompt, proper removal is very important.”

If you have found a tick on your skin, don’t panic. Take caution to remove the tick properly.  Using fine- tipped tweezers, you should grab the tick at its mouthparts and using firm steady pressure you should pull the tick straight out. Using a tick scoop is another proven method of removal. Thoroughly cleanse the bite area and your hands with soap and water or rubbing alcohol after the tick is out. Save the tick for identification.

Do not yank or squish the tick because it may have harmful bodily fluids. Also, do not use petroleum jelly, hot matches, nail polish remover or any other substance to remove the tick. Using those items could increase the risk of an infection.

Szantyr adds, “If you have a tick bite, let your healthcare provider know, as sometimes treatment makes sense at this point. If you and your provider decide to watch and wait, pay attention to any early symptoms of tick-borne diseases which may include fever, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, or rash. See your provider if you develop one or more of these symptoms. If left untreated, infection may spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.”

According to the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Lyme disease can easily and effectively be treated with oral antibiotics if diagnosed in its early stages. For more information on Lyme disease or instructions on how to properly remove a tick, visit

These illustrations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrate proper tick removal using a set of fine-tipped tweezers. The mild winter in Maine may lead to an active tick season. Take care to prevent Lyme disease by conducting frequent tick checks and other suggestions included in this article.

Healthy Vision Month Resources from CDC


May is Healthy Vision Month. Many vision problems and eye diseases can be treated if caught early. The first step is getting a complete eye exam. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is offering information on how to keep your eyes healthy for both the general public and public health professionals.

Eye doctor with older woman patient - both smiling

You can learn more about eye exams and steps you can take to protect your eyesight through these CDC resources:

  • A feature article that includes tips for keeping eyes healthy, including having regular eye exams. It can be read online in English.
  • A podcast on why it is important to get regular eye exams. It will be available May 24 on CDC’s podcast page.
  • An announcement in MMWR, a weekly CDC report of useful public health information and recommendations.
  • A Web site from CDC’s Vision Health Initiative dedicated to providing information on eye diseases and on how to protect your eyesight. The Web site also offers data on vision and eye health in 20 states, and the economic impact of vision loss.

To learn more about controlling health complications from diabetes and preventing type 2 diabetes, visit the CDC’s Diabetes homepage at


Prediabetes risk test available from CDC

What is prediabetes?
Having prediabetes means that your blood sugar (glucose) level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. If you have prediabetes, you are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and to have a stroke.
How to take the prediabetes risk test
You can take the prediabetes risk test yourself. It asks seven questions about your age, weight, physical activity, and other conditions. The test then figures out your risk level based on your answers to these questions and gives you a score. You can take the test on the Internet in by clicking here.
What to do if the risk test says you may have prediabetes
Your test score will tell you if you are likely to have prediabetes. If you get this kind of score, you should talk to your doctor or other health care provider as soon as possible about prediabetes. Your doctor or other health care provider can tell you for certain if you have prediabetes. If you do, he or she can tell you what you need to do to lower your chances of getting type 2 diabetes. These actions may include losing weight, choosing healthier foods, and increasing your physical activity.
Classes to help you prevent type 2 diabetes
If you have prediabetes, you can also find out if there are classes to help prevent type 2 diabetes near where you live. The National Diabetes Prevention Program is one program that offers such classes. Click here to find out if there are National Diabetes Prevention Program classes being offered near you.

New data can help pave the way to reduce burden


CDC’s Division of Diabetes Translation is pleased to announce the upcoming release of 2009 county-level estimates of diagnosed diabetes, obesity, and leisure-time physical inactivity in the United States. These data will be available on the Diabetes Data and Trends Web site on April 3, 2012, and add to the 2004–2008 county-level estimates already available on the Web site.

Also, for the first time, estimates of diagnosed diabetes will be available for the Puerto Rico municipios (county equivalents).

  • These data are important to help address the burden of diabetes and selected risk factors. 
  • The county-level estimates help identify counties with high estimated numbers and percentages of people diagnosed with diabetes or at high-risk of diabetes. 
  • County-level estimates diabetes and selected risk factors can be used to maximize use of existing resources for diabetes management and prevention efforts, including health policy. 
  • Combined with other resources, these data can assist in the allocation of funds to help areas hardest hit with diabetes or at high-risk of diabetes. This focused attention may help reduce rates of complications caused by diabetes and obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, and some cancers, as well as specific complications of diabetes such as kidney disease, blindness, and lower-limb amputations.

For more information on diabetes prevention and control, please visit

PVH is Now Providing Digital Mammography


New digital mammography equipment is being installed at Penobscot Valley Hospital. The new Seleniaä machine will provide the best image quality available in the industry. 

February 21 -  Penobscot Valley Hospital has announced that it now provides the latest in mammography screening technology.  Seleniaä digital mammography incorporates revolutionary imaging technology that provides incredibly sharp images.  Mammography images appear on the technologist’s monitor in a matter of seconds, there is no waiting for film to develop, which means less time in the breast imaging suite for patients.

The new Seleniaä machine will provide clearer images and improved reviewing tools.  Because of this, patient exams will be shorter and there will be fewer call backs for further testing.  The machine includes a MammoPad® Breast Cushion which facilitates muscle relaxation by cushioning muscles and also radiates warmth.  Tilting paddles automatically conform to the natural contours of the body for a more comfortable procedure.

Digital mammography uses traditional X-ray generators and tubes to produce an X-ray beam.  This beam is then converted into digital information that displayed, stored electronically, analyzed and manipulated in a number of ways.  PVH is proud to provide digital mammography services to help improve early breast cancer detection. 

Seleniaä digital mammography offers a number of other practical advantages and patient conveniences.  Because there is no waiting for film to be developed it significantly reduces the need for repeat exams due to under or over exposure.  Digital images are easily stored and transferred electronically, eliminating the dependency on one set of original films, which can sometimes be misfiled or lost in transit.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, after lung cancer.  The National Cancer Institute estimates that one in eight women will develop breast cancer sometime in her life.  The stage at which breast cancer is detected influences a woman’s chance of survival.  If detected early, the five-year survival rate is 97%! 

According to the American Cancer Society, factors that increase a woman's risk of breast cancer include older age, genetic factors, family history of breast or ovarian cancer, long menstrual history, null parity (having no children), older than 30 years of age at first full-term pregnancy, daily alcohol consumption, use of combined postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT), postmenopausal obesity and ionizing radiation. Factors that decrease a woman's risk of breast cancer include breast-feeding and physical activity (exercise).

“Regardless of these risk factors, all women should receive annual mammograms starting at age 40,” states Heather Hines, PVH Imaging Department Director.  “The key to mammograms is not receiving just one.  Obtaining annual exams allows us to compare changes from year to year.”

Penobscot Valley Hospital is committed to the fight against breast cancer.  In offering digital mammography, PVH provides the latest in imaging quality.  “Our hospital now offers the same technology as larger facilities.  This is a huge advancement in care for women in the greater Lincoln area,” adds Hines.

If you would like to schedule a mammogram or have questions about this important breast health procedure, please contact your primary care physician or the PVH Imaging Department at (207) 794-7118.  If you need help paying for a breast exam, call the Maine Breast & Cervical Health Program toll free at (800) 350-5180.  For more information about digital mammography at PVH, visit


What You Need to Know About One of Our Nation's Top Three Killers


Myths About Colorectal Cancer
Courtesy: American Cancer Society
Myth #1: Colorectal cancer is a man's disease.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is just as common among women as men. Each year, about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and about 50,000 die from the disease.
Myth #2: It's better not to get tested for colorectal cancer, because it's deadly anyway.
Truth: Colorectal cancer is often highly treatable. If it is found and treated early (while it is small and before it has spread), the 5-year survival rate is about 90 percent. But because many people are not getting tested, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. The disease develops from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum, and occurs as a result of errors in the way cells grow and repair the lining of the colon. The risk of a man having colorectal cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 19; for a woman, it is about 1 in 20.
"Unfortunately, there are no early warning signs for colorectal cancer. When symptoms do occur, they may include blood in the stool, abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea), unexplained weight loss, or extreme fatigue," says David Dumont, MD at Penobscot Valley Hospital. 
"Getting screened for colorectal cancer routinely can significantly reduce your risk of developing the cancer," he says. "Because more than 90 percent of cases are diagnosed in those over the age of 50, it is smart to begin regular screenings when that milestone is reached. A healthy lifestyle can also go a long way toward preventing the disease."
As of 2007, U.S. annual incidence and mortality rates for colorectal cancer have both dropped substantially from 1975 rates. Beth Buckley, Clinical Operations practice leader at Quorum Health Resources (QHR) reported: "It has been estimated that half of this decline can be attributed to changes in risk factors, and half to increases in screening for colorectal cancer." In 1987, only about 35 percent of American adults in the recommended age range underwent screening; by 2008, this number had increased to 63 percent. Dr. Dumont recommends the following steps to help prevent colorectal cancer:
Get Screened. As of age 50, make a commitment to regular screenings for colorectal cancer. If you have a close relative who has suffered from colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, or if you have inflammatory bowel disease, talk to your doctor about getting screened today. There are several different types of screening tests that may be combined or used alone, including:
· Colonoscopy (every 10 years)
· High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (annual)
· Flexible sigmoidoscopy (every five years)
Eat Healthy. Medical experts agree that one of the best ways to reduce your chances of developing colorectal cancer is to maintain a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Get Moving. Studies show that those who are physically active are 24 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who are not. The American Cancer Society recommends exercising at least 30 minutes a day, several days per week.
Maintain a Healthy Weight. Studies show that your body type can influence your risk for developing colorectal cancer. Those with an "apple" shape and those carrying extra weight around the waist are at greatest risk.
Go Tobacco Free. Research shows a link between smoking and colorectal cancer (because inhaled or swallowed tobacco smoke transports carcinogens to the colon). Tobacco use has also been shown to increase polyp size.
Take Your Vitamin D. The American Cancer Society suggests that Vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer by helping the body get rid of its own highly toxic digestive acid. Oral calcium supplements can also aid in reducing the risk of developing the cancer.
To learn more about preventing and treating colorectal cancer, visit and click on Cancer Topics, then Colon and Rectal Cancer.
This article provided courtesy of Penobscot Valley Hospital and Quorum Health Resources.

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