Over 1,000 get free health screenings at Take it to Heart event

Annual heart health screenings is a News4Jax Positively Jax event

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nearly 1,300 people were screened Wednesday at the annual Take it to Heart Day event at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds.

Memorial Hospital, Baker-Gilmour Cardiovascular Institute, Walgreens and Channel 4 sponsored the event, which offered free heart health screenings and the opportunity to speak with physicians, nutritionists and pharmacists.

Activities included screenings for blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and body mass index. There were also giveaways, including a free Take it to Heart T-shirt. One lucky person won a $50 Walgreens gift card.

This Positively Jax event opened at  7 a.m. and ran until 2 p.m. Everyone in line at 2 p.m. was able to go through the screenings.

By the end of the day, 1,275 people were screened, up from  1,050 last year.

Participants lined up before dawn, coming by themselves or with friends. Some even made it a family affair.
Many participants don't visit the doctor regularly and some learned Wednesday that they need to.  

Ellie Rhymers doesn't have a doctor, but she said she's going to get one now.

“(My numbers have) to come down, so, yes, that was pretty serious,” Rhymers said.

The founder of Take It To Heart, Dr. Scott Baker, added a new test this year that checks for diabetes.

“We made people aware who were diabetic that they can go to the nutritionist to get information, but we also pointed out some people who weren't feeling bad yet, (who) thought they were doing OK, but they weren't quite in that good of a position,” Baker said.

The A1C test was the reason some people came to this year's event. Some have never been tested for diabetes, and they had some concerns, and others who knew they had a problem got a wake-up call Wednesday.

“(It was my) first time seeing my numbers, and I had a panic attack,” Laverne Tisby said.

Tisby knew her glucose levels were high, but she didn't expect a number of nearly 500, three times higher than normal. She has diabetes, and numbers that high could lead to deadly complications. 

“I take my medication. I just know sometimes I eat kind of wrong,” Tisby said.

Tisby was advised to see her doctor to adjust her medication, and she took that advice to heart. 

“I'm going by today. If I have to make an appointment, if I have to sit up there, I'm going to do that or I'm going to admit myself to the hospital,” Tisby said.

Mairi Delmuth said she worries about having another heart attack. She's already had three and has four stents in her heart.

Both her parents had diabetes and died of heart attacks.

But Delmuth got good news Wednesday, as her numbers were in a normal range.

“In between visits with my cardiologist is a good time to come out and get checked,” Delmuth said. “I know that I still have some blockage in another artery.”

Health professionals were on hand to help interpret the numbers. There were also opportunities to improve health through exercise and a little entertainment while participants waited.

Linda Tinsdale, with the University of North Florida, brought in nursing students who volunteered to do some of the testing. She said even though people are just screened at the event, it's a push in the right direction to start living a healthier life.

“If we can get them into a system, we can take care of it and do some prevention with them and education,” Tinsdale said.

Many of the people who came out said they learned something new and to be able to talk with a doctor or nurse practitioner, a pharmacist and nutritionist all in one space with these important numbers for free was really beneficial.

One person was taken to a hospital because of chest pains and shortness of breath.

Two participants -- Beverly Brown and Vicki Miley -- won $50 Walgreens gift cards, and Geraldine Vollick won an Alhambra Dinner Theatre gift certificate.

Melanie Lawson and others Tweeted updates throughout the event. Follow their posts below.



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