Health Fair Screening Background

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Your health fair visit may have included screenings for BMI, blood pressure, blood sugar, flu, and cancer. Here’s some information about each of these.

BMI is a number calculated from your height and weight. BMI is a reliable indicator of body fat and a good gauge of your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat. The higher your BMI, the greater your risk for some diseases. These include heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and some cancers. Find out more!
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the arteries when the heart beats and rests. High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is an important health issue. High blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
 
People with ≥ 120/80 mm Hg have elevated blood pressure. People can lower their risk for hypertension with lifestyle choices. Good choices are eating nutritious foods, limiting processed and high salt foods, and exercising. Maintaining a healthy weight also reduces hypertension. Find out more!
 

The amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood is an important health indicator. Blood sugar is measured as the amount of glucose in milligrams (mg) per the amount of blood in deciliters (dL). Since blood sugar varies by what you eat, it is best to take the test when you are fasting (haven’t eaten for at least 10 hours). A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL is considered prediabetes. People with prediabetes often have an underlying condition called insulin resistance which can lead to something worse: type 2 diabetes. Controlling insulin resistance by eating less of simple sugars (table sugar, honey, and corn syrup) and exercising more can help prevent you from ever getting diabetes.

A fasting blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL or higher indicates type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can lead to many serious health complications and earlier death. While a single blood glucose test is good for screening, the Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) test is the primary test used to diagnose prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and to monitor how well a person is managing their diabetes. The HbA1C test measures the average amount of glucose in the blood over 8–12-weeks.

The amounts of different fats in the blood are important health indicators. Blood fats are measured as the amount of fat in milligrams (mg) per the amount of blood in deciliters (dL). An HDL (good cholesterol) level greater than 40 mg/dL is considered good. An LDL (bad cholesterol) level less than 130 mg/dL is the goal for people to lower their risk for heart disease. A triglyceride level less than 150 mg/dl is considered good. A condition called insulin resistance can lead to unhealthy fat levels in the blood and higher total cholesterol levels. Controlling insulin resistance by eating less simple sugars (table sugar, honey, and corn syrup) and exercising more can help keep blood fats in a good range and is less expensive and comes without the side effects of taking blood lowering medications such as statins.

Insulin is a natural hormone produced in the pancreas. When you eat, your pancreas releases insulin to help your body make energy out of sugars (glucose). It also helps you store energy. Insulin resistance is when cells in your body don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from your blood for energy as well as they should. Doctors usually don’t directly test for insulin resistance, but high blood sugar levels and unhealthy levels of blood fats are signs of insulin resistance.  Eating less simple sugars (table sugar, honey, and corn syrup) found in soda, candy, and many processed foods and exercising more helps control insulin resistance. Blood  sugar and blood fat tests can help track  the positive steps you make with these lifestyle changes and decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Influenza (flu) is an infection of the respiratory system. Flu symptoms include muscle aches, fatigue, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, and headache. Flu complications include pneumonia, dehydration, and hospitalization. An annual flu vaccine is one way to prevent infection. Find out more!
 
Cancers are abnormal growth of cells. Cancer has many causes including genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Lifestyle factors include smoking/tobacco use, diet, and physical activity. Environmental factors include certain types of infections and exposures to chemicals and radiation.
 
More than 100 types of cancer exist. These include breast, skin, lung, colon, and prostate cancer. Symptoms vary depending on the type. Early screening allows for earlier treatment and improves the chance of survival.
 
HIV is a virus that attacks the human immune system. Unlike some other viruses, such as the common cold, HIV cannot be cleared from the body. The good news is that treatments exist to help lower the amount of virus in your blood. These treatments help your illness from advancing to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). That’s why it’s so important to know your HIV status early!
 
HIV is transmitted through contact with certain body fluids. These include semen, vaginal, or anal fluids, breast milk, and blood. Contact with these body fluids can occur during unprotected sex or when sharing needles or other items with body fluids on them. Mothers can pass the HIV virus to their babies during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. You CANNOT transmit HIV through contact with sweat, tears, saliva, bath or pool water. HIV is NOT transmitted by sharing dishes or drinking glasses, hugging or shaking hands.

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Meet Big Sam

Big Sam is a 40-something security guard at the high school Jazzy and Vito attend. Big Sam is worried about his health and recently found out his blood pressure is high. He covers up his worries with jokes. He lives in the apartment above Miss Georgia.

Meet Jazzy

Jazzy is a cheerful younger high school age girl. She is a cheerleader and does gymnastics. She enjoys spending time with older people and loves to bake with Miss Georgia. She has asthma and works hard to control it so she can enjoy her activities.

Meet Cardi

Cardi is a 30-something aerobics teacher at the community center who loves to help people get more fit and healthy but can be a bit too much “in your face” about it. She means well though!

Meet Vito

Vito is a plays-it-cool older high schooler who is sweet-natured at heart. He plays basketball at the community center and is friends with Jazzy. He loves pop and chips and can’t see why eating all he wants of them is a problem.

Meet Pops

Pops is a retired high school science teacher who loves to keep helping people learn about science and health. He likes to check out what everyone is doing or talking about and step in to give his opinion.

Meet Miss Georgia

Miss Georgia is a fun-loving lady in her 50’s who loves to sing, dance, and bake. She is always helping out at community events. She recently found out she has diabetes, and she is learning new ways to cook.