By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- I have high blood pressure, I don't have glaucoma, and I'm too old to get a free mouthpiece.
That's what I learned during my recent visit to the Canfield Fair's health and medical building, where some local doctors and organizations are offering free screenings for health problems.
My first stop was at the Ohio Nurses' Association District 3 booth, where registered nurses and Youngstown State University students are testing local residents for high blood pressure.
The nurses association is a professional organization of nurses in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. The nurses have been offering free blood pressure tests at the fair for about 30 years.
Diana Edwards, a nurse at Forum Health Northside Medical Center, said some local residents come back to the booth each year for a test. Those who are tested receive a yellow card listing the date of the test and their blood pressure.
"Some people keep them year to year and compare," Edwards said.
Why this matters: High blood pressure can cause heart problems and strokes.
The test consists of placing your arm in a sleeve, which is then pressurized by a computer. A registered nurse reads the pressure from the computer screen and writes it on the card.
A normal blood pressure reading is less than 150 over 90. Edwards found my blood pressure to be 179 over 94. I take medication to treat the condition.
Blood pressure is measured at two points: the high point at which the heart contracts to empty its blood into the circulation, and the low point at which the heart relaxes to fill with blood returned by the circulation.
Joann Repaskey, an RN at Northside, said some people may have elevated blood pressure simply from walking around the fair.
"Sometimes, if it's really high, we ask them to sit down," she said. "We then test them again. If it's still up, we ask them to see a physician."
Eye exam: Next I visited a booth sponsored by the Lions Club, where Boardman Optometrist Dr. Brad Bloomberg was testing local residents for glaucoma. The test calls for a person to stare at a blue dot shown on the screen of a viewing machine.
Every time a person sees a blur on another part of the screen, he or she must push a button.
Bloomberg then puts drops in the person's eyes and tests the pressure inside the eyes. Glaucoma causes the pressure in an eye to rise so high that it cuts off the blood supply to the optic nerve. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
"It's a somewhat rare disease, but it is nevertheless blinding and not curable," Bloomberg said. The disease typically occurs in people age 35 or older. I'm 24.
Bloomberg's tests showed that my eyes had a pressure reading of 15. Readings of 21 or more are cause for concern, he said.
The disease is treated with eye drops. Bloomberg said the earlier glaucoma is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
Mouthguards: My final stop was at a booth where local children and teens were receiving free mouthguards from Dr. Bob Johnson, a dentist who works in Boardman. Johnson is a member of the Corydon Palmer Dental Society, a professional organization of dentists in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. The society has been offering the mouthguards in the booth since the early 1990s.
Athletes wear the mouthguards to protect their teeth while they're competing. Johnson said that giving children mouthguards is, "one of the best things we can do to prevent injury in children and to make them aware of protection."
"Our biggest goal is to protect children, not treat them," he said.
The mouthguards are given to children between ages 6 and 18.
Each of the mouthguards is molded to the shape of a child's teeth using hot water. The plastic mouthguards become pliable in the water.
Johnson places the warm mouthguard in each child's mouth and asks him to bite down. As the mouthguard cools, it conforms and hardens to the shape of the child's teeth.
Johnson said the society gives away about 1,100 mouthguards in the booth each year.