"If it doesn’t hurt, don’t worry about it." You do realize that could be the quote on countless headstones, right? "I don’t need health screenings, I take care of myself." I understand the sentiment but even if you feel fine, exercise on a regular basis, try to eat right and carve out some time to relax and recharge during your busy day, you could still be missing something important. Unless we look specifically for them, some serious health issues may not be recognized until damage to our health has already taken place. What you don’t know can hurt you.
Simple health screenings can detect disease conditions when they are most treatable, and can be helpful in monitoring health concerns you are currently treating.
On Aug. 24, UH Samaritan Medical Center is hosting a health and safety fair where we will offer several important free health screenings, as well as other very useful related information. The screenings will be offered from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the UH Administrative Services Building, 663 E. Main St. in Ashland. Most of these screening take only a few minutes, but some of them require a bit longer so space may be limited for some of these tests.
What will be available? A partial list includes:
Blood sugar check. Uncontrolled hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs — ALL vital organs. This can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems. Fasting blood sugar is usually suggested but even a random check can be helpful for tracking, as long as we realize it is random.
Blood pressure check. High blood pressure is associated with heart disease, diabetes and an increased potential for heart attack and stroke. Once again, any disease that damages blood vessels to any body part can damage every organ. Which organ will be damaged? It’s hard to say, but which one do you want to try to live without?
Total cholesterol. Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream and in all of your body’s cells. Cholesterol is an important part of a healthy body because it’s used for producing cell membranes, some hormones and serves other needed bodily functions. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in your arteries and can eventually increase your chances of developing heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends getting a baseline test at age 10, then repeating the test every four to six years for people at average risk of high cholesterol.
HDL Cholesterol is known as the "good" cholesterol because high levels of HDL can protect against heart disease. Medical experts believe HDL carries LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and removes excess cholesterol from arterial plaque, slowing its buildup. Higher HDL is desirable. Lower HDL may increase the risk of heart disease.
Balance screening. I recently read an interesting explanation about why we tend to fall more often when we get older. We may not necessarily stumble more as we age but we no longer recover our balance fast enough to prevent a fall. We do not respond quickly enough because we do not move as fluidly as we did when we were younger. Not rocket science, right? There are some simple and fun exercises to help us improve our balance, our flexibility, and our general overall health. But first, let us screen you to determine your current balance risk.
Along with these and other screenings, we will have experts available to answer your questions on topics like bariatric surgery and other bariatric services, accessing free calcium scoring, and upcoming Community Education classes. If you play your cards right, you may even get a 5 minute neck/back massage.
We cannot correct or seek treatment for medical conditions if we don’t know what to watch out for or how to proceed. When it comes to our health, information is vital. Generally, the sooner you and your doctor can identify and treat any medical condition, the better the outcome. That’s why knowing your risks, getting screened for higher risk areas and seeing your family medicine doctor regularly is so important.
It looks like Saturday morning, Aug. 24, is going to be a busy morning. Find out more details on the calendar of events page at uhhospitals.org.
— Steven Baldridge, RN, Staff Educator at University Hospitals Samaritan Medical Center