Washington state health officials will soon start asking detailed questions about the health of some state residents - and even give them brief physical exams.

The door-to-door survey of 1,100 randomly selected households across the state will try to learn more about our health, and especially about our risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, to better target preventive educational programs.

"We want to get a snapshot of [residents'] health ... and if we can't prevent the diseases, have early detection of them," said Dr. Juliet VanEenwyk, state epidemiologist for noninfectious diseases.

The Washington Adult Health Survey is sponsored by the state Department of Health and is designed to gather a cross section of state residents. The survey will begin late this month and will take about a year, VanEenwyk said.

Cardiovascular disease - including heart disease and stroke - is of particular interest because it's the leading cause of death, killing about 15,000 state residents a year.

About 1,500 people a year die of diabetes complications, and the number is steadily increasing.

Evidence abounds that many already have the diseases or are at risk. A statewide telephone survey last year found that about a quarter of adults have high blood pressure and more than a third have high cholesterol. And state health authorities estimate about one-fifth of adults are obese.Information

In this latest survey, selected participants will be asked about their access to health care and whether they have dental problems, osteoporosis, emphysema or cancer. Other questions will center on diet, medications and other risks for disease such as tobacco and alcohol use.

A nurse on each survey team will measure blood pressure, pulse, height, weight and waist size.

A blood sample will be taken to measure cholesterol and blood sugar.

A hair sample, to measure mercury levels, will be taken from women of childbearing age and participants 60 and older.

"We'll ask about fish consumption to see if certain types cause higher levels of mercury," said VanEenwyk.

Surveyors will wear yellow vests and carry photo identification.

Participants will be given a $45 gift card for their help in the survey. Officials are not seeking volunteers; participants are being chosen to represent the diverse population of the state.

The survey is being financed by an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kansas and Arkansas also were awarded survey grants.