The Group Health and Life Insurance Trust's Wellness Center will provide AVMA members, veterinary students, and their spouses with access to free blood chemistry, lipid, hemoglobin, and prostate-specific antigen tests from July 31-Aug. 2 during the Annual Convention in Atlanta. A rabies titer test is also available for a nominal fee.
Heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, and other chronic diseases and conditions continue to rank among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to data from 2006, the CDC also states more than half of all U.S. deaths each year are linked to stroke, cancer, and heart disease alone. Diabetes remains the leading cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower extremity amputations, and blindness among adults aged 20 to 74.The CDC reports it is also the sixth leading cause of death.
"The good news is that most chronic disease can be controlled when diagnosed early through preventive screenings. That is why the AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust will once again sponsor its Wellness Center during the AVMA Annual Convention," said Dr. James Peddie, a GHLIT trustee. "It's a convenient way for members to undergo these important health screenings, which may also help contain medical costs through the early identification of potential health problems and by monitoring and controlling chronic conditions."
Screening results are mailed to participants, along with a personalized letter recommending any appropriate medical follow-up. Participants are encouraged to share the information with their personal physician during their annual wellness visit, especially if any results are outside reference ranges.
Of the 1,187 blood chemistry profiles and lipid tests conducted during the 2009 convention in Seattle, 527 revealed high cholesterol concentrations, and 127 revealed high triglyceride concentrations, both of which can indicate a risk for cardiac disease. Further, of the 426 PSA tests performed, 16 were in the high range (> 4 ng/mL), indicating possible prostate cancer.
Other participants who were referred to their private physician on the basis of screening results included:
- 36 with high glucose concentrations (> 70 to 125 mg/dL), an indicator of diabetes.
- 62 whose hemoglobin concentration was in the high range (> 12 to 18 g/dL), indicating the potential for such conditions as dehydration, excess red blood cell production in bone marrow, and lung disease.
- 139 whose tests revealed a high concentration of C-reactive proteins, which may double the risk of stroke and is also an indicator of inflammation in the blood.
- 19 with high BUN (> 10 to 20 mg/dL) and creatinine concentrations, indicating possible renal malfunction or failure.
- 128 with high AST, ALT, GGT, or alkaline phosphate activities, indicating possible liver disorders.
AVMA members can also undergo rabies titer testing at the Wellness Center for a fee of $35. Recommendations are to undergo testing at least every two years to ensure continuity of an immune response. These screenings are a convenient and affordable way to do so. Rabies titers less than 1:5 suggest that booster pre-exposure vaccination should be considered.
"These health screenings are an important and convenient extension of the valuable preventive care benefits already included in the medical plans available through the GHLIT," Dr. Peddie said. "We also encourage all GHLIT plan participants to come by the Wellness Center and complete our customer satisfaction survey, which will provide us with important information on how well we are meeting their needs and what they would like to see us add to plan offerings in the future."
More information on GHLIT benefits can be found at www.avmaghlit.org. New York Life Insurance Company underwrites the GHLIT insurance program. Veterinarians and veterinary students can obtain more information including plan details, rates, exclusions, limitations, eligibility, and renewal provisions or find a GHLIT agent by calling the Trust office at (800) 621-6360.