Free heart-health screenings on Wednesday

820 people screened at 11 annual 'Take it to Heart'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 800 people took advantage of Channel 4's annual Take it to Heart day, offering free, life-saving health screenings Wednesday at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds.

For 11 years people at the event learn whether they have dangerous levels of blood pressure, cholesterol or blood glucose and, like most years, one of the people screened Wednesday was immediately hospitalized due to blood pressure near the level that could induce a stroke.

"It's our opportunity to bring a sophisticated screening to the public, which we've been doing for several years," said cardiologist Scott Baker. "Unfortunately a lot of people out there have no idea the dangers that are boiling inside of them."

IMAGES: Take it to Heart day

Baker, from Baker-Gilmour Cardiovascular Institute, started the Take it to Heart public screenings in conjunction with Channel 4. This year's sponsors include Memorial Hospital and Walgreens.

Visitors leave with four pieces of information about their overall health: blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose levels and body mass index.  Baker says each of these numbers can tell a lot about the health of your heart.

"Doctors, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, nutritionist all here to help give you information so you can grasp and control your health and move forward," Baker said. "And if that's not enough, to have that in one house (and) it's all free."

While the screening is geared toward women, men attended the event as well. The event targets women aged 30 to 60 because doctors find they are usually so busy taking care of others they need to stop and take care of themselves for a few minutes.

Over the years, mothers and daughters, sisters and generations of women attend, making this a family affair. And this year there's even more for people offering advice to keeping women healthy.

"We have experts in nutrition, which is new to us this year, (a) pharmacist and health professionals who will be happy to talk with you and answer questions," Baker said.

Visitors without health insurance left with a plan to get heart-healthy. Everyone will be asked to know the symptoms and risk factors of heart disease, to stop smoking and begin moderate exercise.

For those unable to attend, there's heart-health information and a health quiz on our Take it to Heart page.

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