In observance of National Heart Month, the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center hosted weekly events during February including a mini health fair for employees and the public Friday.
According to hospital administrators, the goal of the health fair was to promote healthy living and to monitor the cardiovascular disease risk factors of participants.
“We need to focus on prevention. We need to be able to keep people from experiencing catastrophic events,” said Dr. Kendall Griffith, JFL chief executive officer and cardiologist. “Prevention is a lot less expensive than the cure.”
Medical staff from the hospital and V.I. Cardiac Center administered cholesterol and glucose tests and measured blood pressure and body mass index in the lobby of the hospital in the afternoon.
Medical assistant Lorilei Plaskett took a drop of blood from Petra Fatal’s index finger to test for cholesterol and glucose levels. Plaskett and registered nurse Evet Rivera had given 18 blood tests during the first hour of the event, they said.
High cholesterol is a risk for heart disease and stroke, and high glucose levels can damage the pancreas and lead to arteriosclerosis – hardening of the blood vessels. High blood sugar also can lead to heart attacks, kidney disease and cause diabetes complications.
JFL Chief Nursing Officer Justa Encarnacion said some tests results have required immediate attention. If blood pressure is over 140, the patients will be sent to the emergency room, and those with high glucose will be referred to a physician to screen for diabetes, she said.
“It didn’t hurt,” Fatal said after the pinprick. “It was painless.” Then she completed other screenings and a counselor from the hospital interpreted her test results.
The body mass index test was given by physiologist Andrew Edwards, who said it can warn about cardiovascular disease and detect obesity and other conditions. A number is calculated using height and weight, Edwards said, noting that less than 30 is ideal but a rating of 19 may indicate anorexia.
Blood bank personnel also had a table and encouraged participants to donate.
Lead medical technician Leonore Cedano said the banks needed all types of blood. During the week, the blood bank at Luis Hospital is open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and no appointment is necessary.
Blood bank staff will also visit organizations who want to set up drives on site for their members or employees. “It’s a gift to the community,” Cedano said.
Other events during February included lectures for the staff by physicians and the dietician, and an activities day for fifth- and sixth-graders. The kids’ day included tours of the facility, arts and crafts, and a presentation on heart-healthy diets.
Encarnacion said a presentation popular with students and staff was a science project created by a student at the St. Croix Educational Complex about surgical procedures for heart disease.
To round out the observance, the annual walkathon is being planned for March 1.