Friday, January 29, 2016

Go Red for Women: Well-woman visit

February 5 is National Wear Red Day, a national public awareness day to bring attention to the leading killers of women - heart disease and stroke.  Heart disease is the second and stroke is the fourth leading cause of death for Maine women.
The American Heart Association states that 80 percent of all cardiovascular disease may be preventable.  The best way to prevent it or catch it before it becomes life threatening is by having a well-woman visit (also known as an annual physical).  These visits are tailored to your age, family history and past health history.  The visits often include preventive screenings such as cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and other assessments designed to evaluate your heart health.  This will help to identify any serious health risks, such as heart disease or stroke, before they become life threatening.    
Well-woman visits should be scheduled every year.  If you go several years between visits, you run the risk of a health problem going undetected and causing damage to your body.  Medicare and most private health insurance plans are now required to cover preventive services at no added cost to you. 
To learn more about the well-woman visit:

To learn more about risk factors for cardiovascular disease:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

HHS and USDA release new dietary guidelines

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans provide science-based recommendations on food and nutrition so people can make decisions that may help keep their weight under control and prevent chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. The newly released guidelines recognize the importance of not focusing on individual nutrients or foods in isolation but on healthy eating patterns as a whole to bring about lasting improvements in individual and population health.
There are five overarching guidelines:
  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density and amount.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.
People should be encouraged to:
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean protein and healthy oils
  • Consume less than 10% percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • Limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day or less for people over age 14 and less for those younger

To learn more about the new Dietary Guidelines and how to use them go to

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Routine Pap Tests Can Prevent Cervical Cancer

Maine CDC reminds women of the importance of regular screenings to prevent cervical cancer. January is designated National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and according to DHHS Chief Health Officer Dr. Christopher Pezzullo, as many as 93 percent of cervical cancers could be prevented by screening and HPV vaccination.
“If a woman has never had a Pap test or it has been more than three years since her last test, it may be time for her to speak with a healthcare provider and schedule a test” said Dr. Pezzullo.

Before the development of the Pap test, cervical cancer was one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. The Pap test is an available, accepted and cost-effective screening test that can detect cervical cell changes before they become cancerous.

Starting at age 21, routine Pap tests for women can find potentially cancerous cells growing in the cervix. As the Human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with most cervical cancers, current cervical cancer screening recommendations include the high-risk HPV DNA test along with the Pap test for women age 30-65. Women should talk with their doctors, as screening recommendations can vary for each individual.

The Maine CDC Breast and Cervical Health Program can provide information about screening tests, as well as resources for free cancer screening services and follow-up testing if screening results are abnormal for those who meet program guidelines. Those interested in learning more can call 1-800-350-5180 or 1-207-287-8068. TTY users can call Maine Relay at 711.

More details can also be found at:

Friday, January 8, 2016

New diagnostic tests available at HETL

The Clinical Microbiology section at Maine CDC's Health and Environmental Testing Lab (HETL) validated 10 molecular biology assays in three infectious disease categories in 2015. They include: vectorborne (anaplasma, ehrlichia, babesia, Powassan, deer tick), antibiotic resistance (VRE genotyping, MRSA genotyping) and respiratory (adenovirus, RSV, rhinovirus).  
These new tests complement HETL’s testing menu for such as infectious agents as West Nile virus and Chikungunya, carbapenemase genotyping, influenza and pertussis.  U.S. CDC, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have all stated in the past year that the fastest growing threat to public health is the globalization of antibiotic resistance and vectorborne disease. The addition of these tests to HETL’s menu highlights these statements.  

Laboratory Information Submission Sheets (LSIS) are available on HETL’s website:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

DHHS Employee of the Year

Nate Morse and Troy Fullmer
Nate Morse (left) being congratulated by his supervisor Troy Fullmer for being named DHHS Employee of the Year.

Nate Morse, a comprehensive health planner in Maine CDC’s Division of Population Health, was named the 2015 Employee of the Year for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
One example of how Nate’s work ethic, leadership and initiative is his work establishing the U.S. CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) in Maine. Adults in Maine with prediabetes are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The NDPP is an evidence-based lifestyle change program. Data show that individuals completing the program reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. The NDPP is currently being offered statewide through 21 agencies. In 2014, more than 815 adults in Maine completed the NDPP, significantly reducing their chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Monday, January 4, 2016

National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Birth defects are common, costly and critical.  In the United States, a baby is born with a birth defect every 4 ½ minutes. All women can make a PACT for birth defects prevention by Planning ahead, Avoiding harmful substances, Choosing a healthy lifestyle and Talking to your healthcare provider. Learn more: