An ounce of prevention...
Though the Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club has been providing a September blood screening clinic to the public for 29 years now, there will be significant changes to the 2018 version, which takes place Sept. 10-14.
"We have a new location, and new hours," says event organizer Adrienne Buboltz.
Instead of inside the Essentia Health St. Mary's clinic in Detroit Lakes, this year's blood screening will take place in the St. Mary's EMS building, located across the parking lot from the clinic, toward the McKinley Avenue side. (The physical address is 225 Park St. for those using GPS location systems.)
"We'll also be opening and closing a half hour earlier this year," Buboltz added.
Hours for the blood screening will be 6:30-9:30 a.m. each day, with the doors to the EMS building opening up at 6:15 to accommodate early arrivals.
In addition to these format changes, the scope of the blood screening itself has changed a little this year, says Dr. Bill Henke, an Essentia Health physician who has been involved in the event for several years now.
"It's a slightly diminished battery of testing, with a greater focus on cardiovascular disease and diabetes," he added, noting that these two ailments are often intertwined, and are currently among the most prevalent health issues in the U.S.
Due to the decrease in the number of tests that are run as part of the screening panel, the cost has also been lowered slightly, from $35 to $25 per person, Buboltz said. No pre-registration is necessary, and if you do not have cash, checks can be made out to the Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club.
"We'll be testing for cholesterol (blood lipids), triglycerides (blood fats), high density lipoproteins (HDL) and low density lipoproteins (LDL) as well as glucose (blood sugar) levels," Henke said, adding that the first four tests, known as a "lipid panel," are related to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, while blood sugar testing is mainly related to early detection and prevention of diabetes.
However, "the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force also recommends texting for abnormal blood sugars as part of a cardiovascular risk assessment for adults between the ages of 40-70 who are overweight or obese," he said — because diabetes is one of the leading risk factors for cardiovascular diseases like stroke, arrhythmia, angina, etc.
"Cardiovascular diseases kill approximately 850,000 people in the U.S. each year — it's the number one cause of death," Henke said. "And the cost of dealing with these diseases is $330 billion a year.
"Diabetes itself kills in a number of ways as well," he added.
Stroke, or the loss of blood flow to the brain, accounts for 140,000 of those annual deaths, Henke said — and is the leading cause of long-term disability.
Though high blood sugar and/or cholesterol levels are not always an indicator that you have one of these diseases, he added, they are definitely a warning sign.
"An estimated 84 million Americans have prediabetes — a fasting blood sugar level between 100-125," Henke said. "If you are prediabetic, this testing does give you an opportunity to prevent the development of diabetes itself, or at least to slow its progress."
Changes in diet and exercise habits can also do a lot to prevent or mitigate heart disease and stroke, he added — which is why a screening like this is so valuable.
"I like to think of it as a motivator for people to take stock of their health, and what actions they might take to improve it," Henke said.
When people arrive at the blood screening, said Buboltz, they will be asked to complete a consent and release form, then choose to receive their results one of two ways — electronically, or by mail (or both).
"If you have, or sign up for, an Essentia My Health account, you can receive your results the next day," Buboltz said, adding that results received by mail can take up to three weeks to arrive in your mailbox.
Plus, "once you are in the system, you can register for future screenings by simply providing your name and date of birth," she added.
Once you have received your results, please follow up with your primary care provider if you have questions or would like to discuss what the results might mean, Henke said.
After completing the forms and sign-up for the health account, each person will pay the fee, have their blood drawn, and then relax and enjoy some light refreshments to help counteract the effects of the blood draw. Essentia and Sanford Health staff will also be available to answer questions about diabetes prevention and advance care planning.
One of the reasons that people can be affected more acutely than normal by the blood draw, Buboltz said, is that they are asked to restrict food and beverage intake for 10-12 hours before testing.
"But you can — and should — drink water and take your medications," she added.