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Fair warns of health problems

March 14, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Heart disease, not breast cancer, is the No. 1 killer of American women, and the symptoms of a heart attack in a woman can be different from those men experience.

Everyone should have a colonoscopy at age 50, or earlier if certain risk factors are present.

Those were a few of the lifesaving health facts that the 2,000 people in attendance Saturday at the Waynesboro Health Fair could learn.

The 21st annual event was held at Waynesboro Area Senior High School with many favorite displays and demonstrations from the past, along with some new ones.

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Several children giggled while adults tried to walk a straight line while wearing goggles that simulate intoxication at a demonstration by Pennsylvania State Police. Visitors could have their blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure checked, and be screened for vision problems.

The Franklin-Fulton County Drug and Alcohol Program displayed legal and illegal drugs and drug equipment at its booth.

"A lot of the parents say they didn't know what the drugs look like," said George Reitz, prevention specialist trainee. "The kids unfortunately already know. It's in the schools."

Reitz told visitors to the booth about new forms of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse called robotripping and farming.

Robotripping involves drinking three or four bottles of cough syrup such as Robitussin to experience a high, Reitz said.

"They may throw up, get dizzy, have seizures or muscle spasms," symptoms similar to those caused by heroin or cocaine, Reitz said.

Farming involves children who raid their parents' medicine chests or steal pills from a pharmacy and have a party, Reitz said.

"They put the pills together in a mixing bowl and challenge each other to take them to see what effect they have," Reitz said. "They think the pills are safe because Mom and Dad take them. Parents need to be educated, and to talk to their kids."

Nickie Hockenberry, community health coordinator for Summit Health, said many people visiting the Heart Health Advantage booth did not know the symptoms of a heart attack in women.

While women may experience the classic symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating and a sharp pain in the left arm, they may also have indigestion, nausea, dizziness, pain in the shoulder blade area and lower back pain, Hockenberry said..

An osteoporosis screening booth had a long line of people "all day," said Barbara Renn, chief technologist in the radiology department at Summit Health. An ultrasound machine called the Achilles Express scans a patient's heel to determine bone density.

"We found quite a few at high risk and who needed further assessment" by a physician, Renn said.

A diagnostic tool called the dexascan measures bone density in the lumbar spine and hip. People with low bone density may need calcium supplements or prescription drugs, she said.

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