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Health screenings help detect chronic disease

By Erin Long | HR News You Can Use | Feb. 13, 2013

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President Jim Wagner participates in the university-wide health screenings initiative.

Since Emory’s free onsite health screenings began in January, over 20 percent of university and healthcare employees have participated, learning their numbers and receiving a one-on-one consultation with a health professional.

Richard J. Kim, instructor of medicine with The Emory Clinic, explains that these personalized health screenings can empower individuals to take control of their health.

"Key health metrics in weight/BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose can illuminate silent conditions that may go on for years before significant symptoms start," says Kim.    

High blood glucose levels, for example, which are detected through a simple health screening, can alert someone to the fact that they may have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Kim recalls a patient who recently came to him after an abnormal screening in the workplace and was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. What was striking about this story was that this person had no family history, no symptoms of illness, and no major risk factors that could have alerted anyone that they would have a life altering condition. 

The danger is in not knowing an underlying problem exists. "The complications of uncontrolled diabetes are vast and significant, such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease or stroke," says Kim. Changes in lifestyle and diet can greatly reduce the likelihood of progression to diabetes.

Kim recommends seeking the advice of a physician if you have any abnormal values on a biometric screen. 

He adds: "Don’t be complacent with your health just because your biometric values are normal. Stay on top of living an active lifestyle, eating healthy foods, and getting as close to eight hours of sleep each night to maintain a balanced lifestyle."

Employees can learn their numbers by attending an onsite screening at Emory. These screenings continue through Feb. 27. The screening will measure blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and height/weight; fasting is not required. Employees can register for their free screening appointment, either online or by calling 1-877-686-6636 (press 6). An employee ID is needed to register.