Benefits of Community Health Screenings

USA TODAY, February 2008 | Go to article overview

Benefits of Community Health Screenings


Consumers who queue up for health screenings at the mall, a senior center, a drug store, or other retail business could benefit from the information they learn. However, screenings in community settings have limitations. Proponents of community-based screenings say they can be lifesavers, detecting illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes before symptoms are evident, but critics caution that at least some tests are not specific or sensitive enough to aid the general public, indicate medical personnel at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

Following are various benefits and limitations of these health tests commonly offered in community settings:

Blood and blood pressure screenings. Tests to measure cholesterol, blood glucose (to screen for diabetes), and blood pressure are fairly straightforward, pose little risk, and can help patients track these important aspects of overall health.

Body fat measurement or simple tests to measure fitness. These can help determine overall fitness and provide information indicating where more exercise (and fewer calories) are needed.

Osteoporosis screening. It typically measures bone density in the heel or wrist. It may be useful in assessing the future risk of fractures. An abnormal result indicates the need for additional testing, typically a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan, for more accurate risk predictions.

Vascular ultrasound. Ultrasound technology is used to evaluate blood flow through major arteries and veins. …

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