Hospital Offers Free Health Screenings during Chronic Disease Management Week

Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) will offer free health screenings in the lobby at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital on Friday, 15 November between 10:00am and 2:00pm as part of this month’s Chronic Disease Management campaign. Staff members will be offering free lung screening for people over 40 years of age. In addition, blood sugar, blood pressure and waist measurement screening will be available. A lobby display and information table has been set up for the week and highlights prevention and treatment options for a range of chronic diseases.

Debbie Barboza, BHB Asthma and Chronic Lung Disease Nurse Educator said: “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common lung disease that blocks the airways, making breathing difficult. It is a major cause of disability as well as a leading cause of death. COPD greatly impacts quality of life for patients and their family members and kills three million people worldwide every year. Many people have lung disease and don’t know it. Some think their symptoms are just a natural part of the aging process. However, COPD is a life-threatening disease that will get worse if not treated. While there is no cure, treatments and lifestyle changes can help you feel better, stay more active, and slow the progress of the disease. Symptoms include coughing, bringing up phlegm or mucus and getting short of breath. If you are over 40, with a history of smoking and have these symptoms, come to the hospital lobby for a free lung function test that can determine your risk.”

Debbie Jones, BHB Diabetes Nurse Educator said: “Bermuda is facing the same health challenges as other jurisdictions. Globally, there are increasing rates of obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Our campaign aims to educate the public about the prevention and treatment of these chronic diseases. Type 2 diabetes is a common and serious global health problem, which has developed as a result of cultural, social and dietary changes, ageing populations, reduced physical activity and other unhealthy life style choices. There is conclusive evidence that type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases can be prevented through nutrition counselling, increased physical activity and modest weight reduction. The importance of prevention, care and treatment options cannot be over-emphasized. Lifestyle interventions and socially responsible policies can promote healthy living and help prevent many chronic diseases. We urge members of the public to take advantage of free health screenings offered at the hospital on Friday that will assess their risk of hypertension, diabetes, stroke and heart disease.”

The Asthma and Chronic Lung Disease Centre and the Diabetes Education Centre are both located at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. To make an appointment for COPD education, call 239-1652 or email asthma.centre@bhb.bm. To enrol in Diabetes Education Centre classes, contact 239-2027 or email diabetes.centre@bhb.bm.

Symptoms of COPD:
• A cough that won’t go away.
• Bringing up phlegm or mucus when you cough.
• Getting out of breath when you do physical activity, such as walking up a flight of stairs, walking the dog, shopping or getting washed and dressed.

Suggestions for people diagnosed with COPD:
• Stop smoking. Ask for help to quit.
• Talk to a doctor or nurse about pills, special gum, or patches for your skin to help you stop smoking.
• Tell friends and family you are trying to quit and ask them to keep cigarettes out of the house.
• Take each medicine the way the doctor says to take it. Go to the doctor at least two times a year for checkups.
• Talk about your medicines at each visit and make sure you understand how to take each one.
• Ask if you can get a flu shot.
• Go to the hospital or doctor right away if your breathing gets bad.
• Plan ahead with phone numbers, directions to the doctor, and other information in one place so you can act fast.
• Keep the air clean at home.
• Stay away from things like smoke and fumes that make it hard to breathe.
• Open doors and windows when you are cooking and when the air inside is smoky or has strong smells.
• Keep your body strong. Walk, exercise regularly, and eat healthy foods.
• If your COPD is severe, get the most out of your breath. Make life as easy as possible at home.
• In the kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area, put things you need within easy reach.
• Find simple ways to cook, clean, and do other chores.
• Ask your friends and family for help.

Chronic Disease Fact File:
• A large majority of older adults in Bermuda have at least one chronic condition, and many have at least two.
• Four chronic conditions—heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes—cause almost two thirds of all deaths each year.
• Diabetes affects almost 20% of Bermuda’s population.
• Many Bermudians have pre-diabetes, which increases their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
• A majority of Bermudians over the age of 55 are at risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure.
• Control of blood glucose through diet, exercise and medication is essential for people with diabetes. Over time, high blood glucose levels can cause nerve and blood vessel damage leading to vision problems, lack of sensation in the hands and feet (neuropathy), kidney damage and poor wound healing.
• Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, foot amputation and kidney dialysis and transplants. Two-thirds of people with diabetes die from heart disease and strokes.
• The treatment of diabetes involves blood glucose testing, proper use of medications, planning healthy meals and regular exercise. Medications must be coordinated with meals, exercise and other activities.
• Exercise is important for blood glucose control because exercise causes an increase in the uptake of glucose into cells and can improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Exercise has the added benefits of promoting weight loss and improving strength and fitness.
• People with diabetes should be careful to wear comfortable, supportive shoes and avoid exercise that raises blood pressure significantly.
• Meal planning involves selecting healthy foods to help maintain consistent blood glucose levels while meeting energy needs for exercise and other activities. The dietary recommendations for preventing and treating diabetes are almost identical to the general recommendations for good health: Emphasize whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat meat and dairy and reduce saturated fat, cholesterol, added sugars and salt. The diet should also promote weight loss and weight maintenance, especially for overweight patients.
• Proper diet, blood glucose testing, medication use and regular exercise can improve blood glucose control, reduce the risk of other health problems and improve quality of life in people with diabetes.
• In those with pre-diabetes, these efforts can delay the progression to diabetes and may even result in a return to normal blood glucose. Diet and exercise have also been shown to be more effective than medications in preventing diabetes.

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