Nov 142013
 

Sometimes, the simple stuff works best.

This is true when it comes to the valuable practice of churches, nonprofits and community groups hosting health screenings. The advice? Keep it simple. Stick to the straightforward medical tests that change behaviors, and avoid more complicated screenings that lead to additional invasive procedures.

It’s common practice for churches and other community groups to host health screenings. These events help raise awareness for common health issues and often provide basic screenings at little to no cost. This type of community action is built around the promotion of good health habits. But, as recent news stories have covered, some advanced screenings should be left to doctors.

In some cases, tests are offered by for-profit companies and come with an advertising pitch for additional services. Doctors warn patients and community groups to always consider the source with these sorts of tests. In fact, the American Academy of Family Physicians maintains a list of tests to avoid. One potential problem is test  results showing things that – though abnormal – are completely benign. When an incorrect diagnosis is delivered, patients are then subjected to more invasive tests that can be more harmful. It takes the eye of a trained physician to tell the difference.

Dr. Jason Foltz, clinic director of family medicine at ECU, says people at community events should seek tests that focus on improved outcomes – tests such as blood pressure, Body Mass Index, glucose and cholesterol screenings. Proponents of these community screening events say that while doctors can preach to patients about the need to exercise or quit smoking, it sometimes takes the reality check of a positive test result to motivate a person to make a change.

These tests can also serve as guideposts for patients working on managing an existing condition. Just last week, the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU hosted the 12th annual Winning with Diabetes conference. At this event, guests received blood pressure, vascular and kidney screenings.

In most cases, tests such as these are only the first steps in establishing a plan for better health, Foltz says. If anything alarming comes up during one of these simple screenings, you should visit your doctor so he or she can get you started on a program to correct the issue.

Follow ECU Health Sciences on Twitter to learn about future health screenings.

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