WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Novant Health Inc. is preparing to launch a screening campaign within its four-state territory that will assess individuals’ risk factors for pre-diabetes and hypertension.
The initial local screenings will take place in inpatient, outpatient and community settings on Jan. 20 and Jan. 24.
Those determined to be at risk for the two conditions will be offered an A1C blood test to evaluate their potential for developing diabetes and heart disease and/or having a stroke.
Overall, Novant is aiming to examine about 500,000 people during the campaign, including providing more than 25,000 A1C blood tests, in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
The screening cost is expected to exceed $3 million this year, Novant officials said.
Diabetics are those individuals whose blood glucose and hemoglobin A1C levels are at or above 6.5 percent. Having a level between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent is considered as being pre-diabetic. The test measures the average blood glucose level for the past two to three months.
“Too often, pre-diabetes is dismissed or not taken seriously,” said Dr. Jim Lederer, Novant’s vice president of clinical improvement. “Early diagnosis and intervention are critical to reduce the chances of developing diabetes and the inevitable complications that come with the disease.
Since late 2010, Novant officials have tested more than 150,000 hospital patients for elevated hemoglobin A1C levels. The testing found about 6,000 people who had diabetes and had not been aware of it.
That determination played a motivating role in the new pre-diabetes educational and outreach initiative.
The initiative is a part of an overall preventive-care effort launched in April that coincided with new Novant branding and establishing purple as its predominant corporate color.
According to Novant, one-third of Americans age 20 and older have pre-diabetes. About one in three has hypertension, and more than one-third of adults are considered obese.
Serious health implications associated with those conditions can include organ and nerve damage, loss of limbs and blindness. These three health conditions combined account for $266 billion in annual U.S. medical costs and contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths annually.
“A large percentage of consumers seek education and prevention options related to cancer, high cholesterol or even back and joint pain,” said Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, a senior vice president with Novant.
“Yet, how many ask their doctor to rule out pre-diabetes, regularly check their blood pressure or take real action when their weight creeps up to obese levels?
“The answer is very few. Our message is simple but powerful: Small changes can really make a big difference because pre-diabetic is not only manageable, but it can be reversible.”