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Conduct preventive wellness screenings

Why: 

Health screenings help identify risk of serious illness.  Preventive wellness screenings provide measurements or evaluations of certain “biomarkers” that indicate a person’s degree of risk for specific diseases.  Many preventable diseases and the “biomarkers” are interrelated.  For example, an individual with excess body fat is also at risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Inconvenience and cost are barriers that often prevent people from getting routine health screenings.
When offered at work, these screenings are very convenient and cost-effective.  Early identification of risk can often prevent the development of more serious health issues.  When serious risk is identified, early intervention will lead to better outcomes.

How:

  • Offer health screenings as part of a health fair.

  • Host periodic screening events as an alternative to full health fairs.

  • Host a Health Fair or encourage employees to attend a Health Fair in their community.

  • Offer different wellness screenings each month along with an educational program on that specific topic.  This allows people to focus on different topics and reinforces wellness and prevention throughout the year.  For example, during February, American Heart Month, offer cholesterol and blood pressure screenings.

  • Many companies pay for part or all of the screenings for their employees.  Other companies do not have this option, but can still offer convenient, lower-cost worksite screenings.  Screening/wellness companies should be able to offer reasonable rates for their services on a cash (no insurance) basis.

    Preventive Wellness Screenings

    A variety of health screenings are easy to offer in the workplace.  Listed below are some of the most common screens for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer.

  • A1c:  People who have been diagnosed with diabetes should ideally have this test four times a year.  A1c level is a good measure of a person’s average blood glucose level over the previous two to three months, which indicates his or her glucose control.  It is not used to diagnose diabetes.

  • Blood composition or body fat:  Measuring the percentage of body fat and lean muscle mass is a better indicator of health than weight alone.  Two people weighing exactly the same could have very different percentages of fat and muscle.  Several different methods can be used to measure body composition: underwater weighing (expensive and requires special equipment), and bioelectrical impedance (easy to use, requires handheld or standing equipment).

  • Body mass index (BMI):  Body mass index is the measurement of choice for many physicians and researchers studying obesity.  Body mass index uses a mathematical formula that takes into account both a person’s height and weight.  Body mass index equals a person’s weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (BMI=kg/m²).  Body mass index, rather than scale weight, is a more accurate assessment of an individual’s risk for obesity.

  • Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR):  WHR is the ratio of your waist circumference to your hip circumference by the hip circumference.  WHR is a measurement tool that looks at the proportion of fat stored on your waist, and hips and buttocks. 

  • Bone density:  Bone density screenings measure a person’s risk for osteoporosis.  Portable screening devices use sonogram technology to measure the bone density of the heel.  Measurements of the heel have about an 85 percent correlation with the hip.  The test is quick and painless.  More than 28 million Americans have osteoporosis.  One of every two women and one of every eight men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

  • Compressive chemistry screen:  This blood test usually includes 30 different tests that measure cholesterol levels, thyroid function, liver function, and various enzyme levels.

  • Glucose levels:  This test measures the amount of a simple sugar called glucose in the blood.  High levels of blood glucose indicate risk for diabetes.  An estimated 16 million people in the United States have diabetes; and about one-third of them have not been diagnosed.

  • Lipid profile (also called a cholesterol check):  This blood test measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol), triglycerides (a form of fat carried in the blood stream), and provides a coronary risk ratio that indicates a person’s risk of coronary heart disease.

  • PSA screening for prostate disease:  This blood test measures a protein made by the prostate gland.  Elevated PSA levels may indicate prostate cancer cells or other non-cancerous prostate conditions.  The American Cancer Society recommends PSA testing every year for men over age 50, or age 40, if they have prostate cancer in the family.

  • Push-up test: This test measures an individual’s level of muscular endurance.

  • Rockport one-mile walk test:  This test measures an individual’s level of aerobic fitness.

  • Sit-and-reach test:  This test measures an individual’s range of motion or flexibility.

  • Stoke screening:  This screening identifies problems with vascular circulation. Using Doppler ultrasound technology, problems such as blockages of the carotid arteries, aneurysm of the aorta, and circulation problems of the legs, can be identified before symptoms occur.

    Resources:

  • American College of Sports Medicine:  www.acsm.org

  • HEALTHBREAK, Inc.:  www.healthbreakinc.com

  • Life-Span Wellness:  www.lindyspharmacy.com/wellness.htm

  • Med-Well, Inc.:  www.medwellinc.com

    Other organizations to consider for screenings:

  • Health departments/agencies

  • Hospitals

  • Insurance providers

  • Recreation Centers/YMCAs

  • Screening/wellness companies