IAMA IL “Fit at Fifty” Community Health Awareness Seminar

Chicago IL: The Indian American Medical Association of Illinois (IAMA IL) is a non-for-profit professional organization comprised of Illinois physicians of Indian origin. It’s vision amongst other things is to organize community seminars related to public health issues. On November 12th, 2011, in collaboration with the Chinmaya Mission Chicago (Badri), Willowbrook, IL, conducted a well organized and attended “Fit at “Fifty” seminar and free health screening.

The Fit at Fifty program was aimed at helping lay people understand several health-related issues pertaining to diabetes, cholesterol, colon cancer, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension. Free blood tests which included complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, and lipid profile were performed on people over the age of 35. All attendees were screened for hypertension and Body Mass Indices were performed.

Opening the Forum, Dr. Annita John, President IAMA (IL), thanked the attendees and explained the importance of staying fit, more importantly, after the age of 50. As 75% of the health care costs in America is related to preventable conditions, she emphasized the importance of lifestyle modification for the health and also the quality of life for everyone in the community.

The moderator of the event, Dr. Alka Kale, Chairperson IAMA (IL) Health Awareness Committee introduced the speakers Dr. Samir Shah, cardiologist, Dr. Monica Borkar, gasatroenterologist, and Dr. Nittor Jayaram, endocrinologist.

Speaking on heart-related problems including hypertension, heart attack, coronary artery disease, Dr. Samir Shah stated that coronary artery disease is the number one cause of death in America. The South Asian community in the United States has a three to five-fold increase in CAD. Obesity, lack of exercise, high cholesterol, and hypertension can quietly damage the body for years before symptoms develop.

Dr. Monica Borkar emphasized screening test to help identify cancers of the colon and rectum. All adults should undergo colon cancer screening beginning age 50 or earlier depending on their risk of developing colon cancer. The screening of choice is a colonoscopy, which can help identify precancerous growths such as polyps that can be removed before they become malignant.

Speaking on metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity, Dr. Nittor Jayaram said “metabolic syndrome is a group of health problems that raises your risk for heart problems and diabetes. He emphasized the importance of exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes. The take home message was to maintain a BMI of less than 23% for people of Indian origin. Metabolic syndrome is becoming more common due to rising obesity rates, even amongst children and young adults, and in the future may overtake smoking as the leading risk factor for heart disease. A weight loss of 5-10%, attained from diet and moderate exercise can significantly improve one’s diabetes

Handouts pertaining to screening tests for men and women for preventative diseases, monitoring blood pressure and calorie charts pertaining to Indian cuisine were distributed.

The program concluded with a vote of thanks by Mr. Shanker Pillai, President Chinmaya Mission, Chicago. He thanked the IAMA and Dr. Annita John for their vision, all the volunteers including phlebotomists, lab technicians, medical students, residents, and physicians, members of the Chinmaya Mission and Mrs. Bela Shah for organizing nutritious snacks for all the attendees. He hoped to make this an annual event. The IAMA thanks ACL Laboratories for the supplies and for performing the tests.

Photographs by: Asian MediaUSA
Press release by: Annita John, MD (President, IAMA IL)

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
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