Hundreds screened for World Heart Day
Karrie Williams, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU: HUNDREDS OF persons turned up at the Montego Bay Civic Centre in St James on Monday for free heart screening, which was provided courtesy of consultant cardiovascular specialist Dr Claudine Lewis in collaboration with Microlabs and Fairview Optical Centre.
The inaugural event was put on in recognition of World Heart Day, which is celebrated yearly on September 29.
With heart-related illnesses being ranked among the leading causes of death in Jamaica, Lewis, who is a former head of the Cardiovascular Unit at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, stressed that early detection is key to the successful treatment of heart disease.
"We are trying to get persons who do not know much about their health, like their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, to have screening tests done so that they can pick up on things that might be abnormal," said Lewis. "High cholesterol for example, often does not give any signs, and so we try to get persons to pick up early whether they have these conditions so that we can start treatment and be advised about heart healthy lifestyles."
The screening consisted of two primary tests, a blood test to reveal the full cholesterol profile, and an electrocardiogram test to record the heart's electrical activity. Having completed both tests, participants then took their results to Lewis, who analysed and explain the results to them.
Sixty-six-year-old Matilda Wainwhight-Bowen, who travelled from Hanover to access the screening, was happy with her results and used the occasion to urge Jamaicans to become more conscious of their health status and take advantage of free health screenings throughout the island.
"I have high cholesterol and I've been getting treatment for it, so when I read about this screening day in the newspaper, I decided to come so that I can do additional checks and know the status of my heart," said Wainwhight-Bowen.
"It's very important to know the condition of the heart, and this is a very great privilege for everyone, especially since it's also free. With the rough economic times that we are facing, it would be very foolish not to come out and benefit from this important screening," she added.
While expressing pleasure with the day's turnout, Lewis, who now operates the Heart Smart Centre at Montego Freeport, said she plans to take the screening to other western parishes, namely Hanover and Westmoreland, in the coming months.
"Persons need to get regular check-ups with their doctors because a lot of heart issues can be picked up early by doing these screenings that we are doing today, because oftentimes, when patients come to the hospital, it's late and by this time, they have already developed heart disease," said Lewis.