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Study Paints Grim Picture of Heart Health PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Local News
Monday, 07 February 2005 18:00
A recent survey conducted for the Genesis Heart Institute is providing the fuel for an outreach campaign for people to get their cholesterol and blood-sugar levels tested. The survey asked questions of 525 people in the Quad Cities area age 50 and older, discussing everything from demographics to health-care habits to risk factors for heart disease. The survey overall was as much about people’s awareness of their health as their health itself.

For example, the survey did ask, “In the past 12 months, have you ever experienced chest or arm discomfort when under physical or mental stress?” But it also queried: “Do you know your cholesterol level?” And: “Do you think you are at risk for heart disease?”

The results suggest that Quad Citians have a lot of work to do, both in terms of learning about their health and changing their lifestyles. While communities in the Quad Cities variedly wildly in smoking tendency and recognizing the warning signs of heart disease – earning letter grades from Genesis ranging from A to F in those categories – all communities rated a D or F in monitoring their own health and a C, D, or F in physical activity.

Overall, Galesburg earned the best grade, with a B-minus, and Silvis rated the lowest, with a D-minus.

Starting February 10 and running into March, Genesis will be conducting an outreach program, offering cholesterol and comprehensive-metabolic-panel screenings at various sites for $20. “The screenings can help detect or monitor certain medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, or high cholesterol that can lead to heart attack or stroke,” a press release noted. The tests would typically cost $129.

“The outreach would have been done regardless of the survey,” said Genesis spokesperson Craig Cooper. But the survey results provided urgency for the initiative, he said.

Among the survey respondents, Cooper said, 10 percent had not had a physical exam in the past two years. Seventeen percent had had chest or arm discomfort – a warning sign of heart trouble – in the past 12 months. And 30 percent said they didn’t consider themselves active, while 48 percent considered themselves overweight.

The numbers were even worse for racial minorities. For instance, only 30 percent of African-American respondents knew their cholesterol levels, compared to 52 percent overall. That has prompted Genesis to do an additional 100 surveys among racial minorities since the initial survey.

Mike Bawden, managing director of Ingenuity Partners (which conducted the survey), said the margin of error for the study is between 4.5 and 5 percent. He added that the survey’s results for individual communities have a higher margin of error but are still statistically valid. He noted that the number of responses for Galesburg (22), for instance, is higher than those collected for media-consumption surveys such as Arbitron and Neilsen.

He added that the survey should be looked at as a “benchmark study,” and that it needs to be revisited periodically to ensure that its results weren’t anomalous.

Nationwide, one in four people over the age of 50 has some form of heart disease.

In a partnership with MetroLINK transit, screenings will be conducted inside a 40-foot city bus, converted into a mobile testing lab. Look for the dark-blue vinyl-wrapped bus with a yellow “Gus the Bus” cartoon on the side, where reduced-cost screenings will be available: February 10 at Center for Active Seniors in Davenport; 6 to 9 a.m. February 12 at Genesis Heart Institute in Davenport; 6 to 9 a.m. February 15 at Genesis Medical Center, West Central Park, in Davenport; 6 to 9 a.m. February 17 at Genesis Heart Institute in Davenport and Genesis Medical Center in Silvis; 6 to 9 a.m. February 22 at West Family YMCA in Davenport; 6 to 9 a.m. February 24 at Genesis Wellness Center in Bettendorf and Genesis Medical Center in DeWitt; 6 to 9 a.m. March 1 at Genesis Heart Institute in Davenport; 6 to 9 a.m. March 3 at Davenport Family YMCA in downtown Davenport; and 6 to 9 a.m. March 8 at North Family YMCA in Davenport.

For more information, call (800)383-2575. Those taking the tests should fast for 12 hours prior to having their blood drawn.

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