Monday Medical: Do you know your blood count number?

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The 9Health Fair has been serving our community for close to 25 years. Denver's 9News is the founder and exclusive title sponsor of 9Health Fair. Yampa Valley Medical Center is the local sponsor and organizer of the popular event, which will be held Saturday.

The mission of the 9Health Fair is to promote health awareness and encourage individuals to assume responsibility for their own health.

Most years, there is a new screening offered at the health fair, and this year will be no different. Steamboat Springs is one of only 40 9Health Fair sites, out of more than 160 in the state, offering an additional low-cost blood test: the $15 blood count screening.

A blood count test is one of the most commonly ordered blood screenings and can provide additional information about your overall health. This test counts and differentiates cells in the blood.

"A blood count is important because it can check for anemia and other serious underlying blood diseases," Dave Williams, M.D., from Steam--boat Medical Group, said.

The four components of this year's blood count screening include:

n A white blood cell count, which can detect infection.

n Hemoglobin concentration, which discloses your body's ability to carry oxygen to every cell in your body. People with low hemoglobin may have anemia.

n Hematocrit value, which describes how much of your blood is composed of red blood cells. Hematocrit measurement is also useful in identifying anemia as well as the presence of liver disease and bleeding disorders.

n Platelet count, which shows how much of your blood is composed of platelets that help your body stop bleeding after an injury. The platelet count may change with bleeding disorders, heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory disorders and anemia.

"The blood chemistry test offered at the 9Health Fair provides 32 screening components. However, the blood count is missing. To offer a more complete picture of a patient's health, when a patient comes in to our clinic after the health fair for follow-up, we often have to draw a blood count test to have more information," Steamboat Medical Group Nurse Sup--ervisor Mary Deirdorff, R.N., said. A typical office charge for a blood count test is more than $30, so 9Health Fair's $15 is a good price.

Another new health-fair feature offers community members who attended the early blood draws the opportunity to pick up their blood test results at the 9Health Fair. Yampa Valley Medical Center will have medical volunteers there to review blood test results with people who would like feedback. A photo identification is required to pick up early blood draw results.

Explanation of blood tests will be offered, but no diagnoses will be made. If you have any results outside the reference ranges, your primary care provider may want to see you to discuss the findings. Following up with your personal health-care provider is strongly encouraged.

Lisa A. Bankard, M.S., coordinates YVMC's wellness and community education programs.

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