Baptist St. Anthony Hospital held their biannual health fair early Saturday morning. Two hours into the event, more than 250 people of varying ages had been seen.

"The sooner that somebody knows they have a health issue and the sooner they start taking care of it, the better they are," said Paula Dobbins, BSA chest pain coordinator. "It's so much better to catch things in the early stages than in the late stages."

The free event covered the body practically from head to toe. Some of the screenings provided were for body mass index, blood pressure, triglyceride, cholesterol and blood glucose. 

Starting with a BMI analysis can be critically important. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer," which are all leading causes of preventable, premature death.

The CDC says regularly screening for high blood pressure, also called the silent killer, is crucial "because it often has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it."

Checking for blood glucose is an important step to checking for prediabetes and other forms of diabetes. The CDC defines prediabetes as having a higher than normal blood glucose (sugar) level, yet not so high as to be diagnosed as diabetes.

"Prediabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes (but) prediabetes can often be reversed," the CDC says.

BSA also offered patient education on subjects including heart attack, hands-only CPR, stroke, cardiac rehab, smoking cessation, bariatric, sleep apnea, COPD and asthma on Saturday. 

The CDC calls smoking "the leading cause of preventable death (that) leads to disease and disability and harms nearly every organ of the body."

Not getting enough sleep has also been linked to chronic diseases and conditions — such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.

Though the screenings and information provided at the health fair are free, Dobbins said from the surveys filled out by patients at the 2018 fall health fair, about 60 percent of them had health insurance. 

She said, "A lot of times people will go to their doctor for the major issues, but this way, they can keep track of their numbers a little more closely."

Dobbins said between allocated information and the testing, the health fair can save lives.

"When we start looking at the results, anything that's of critical value, the lab notifies me and then we get in touch with the person so they can go get checked out and get that taken care of," she said.

BSA will hold their next free health screening in the fall of 2019.