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GARNER | The Hancock County Health & Wellness Expo, held February 16 at the Garner Veteran's Memorial Recreation Center, offered a much needed break from cold temps and the threat of snow.

The event drew a full house with the free health screenings from Hancock County Health System and CPR demonstrations by the Hancock County Ambulance crew. Other vendors offered services such as dental, chiropractic and acupuncture, nutritional care, physical rehabilitation, mental health, retirement home and Alzheimer care, drug and alcohol awareness, essential oils, and children's nutritional and wellness services.

Hancock County Health System (HCHS) volunteers completed blood pressure checks and blood glucose screening to check for high blood pressure and the onset of diabetes. They also promoted Project Life Wellness Screenings to help people know their risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The Highway Safety Commission estimates 40,000 Americans die and another 250,000 are injured after falling asleep when driving due to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is estimated to affect nine percent of all males and four percent of all women, yet most people aren't even aware they may be at risk.

HCHS volunteers asked visitors to fill out questionnaires to determine if they would benefit from a sleep study – either conducted overnight at the Hancock County Memorial Hospital in Britt or through a do-it-yourself take home kit.

The Dental Center of North Iowa, with offices in Britt, Belmond and Mason City, also takes sleep apnea very seriously. “Dentists are sometimes the first to see signs of sleep problems because they see specific patterns of wear on the teeth,” Dr. Eric Barnes said. If a person tests positive for sleep apnea, Barnes said the Dental Center can make a small, flexible mouth piece to wear at night as an alternative to a C-Pap machine.

Cara Hall, a consultant with Young Living, had her essential oils on display for sampling and sale. Hall has been teaching people why and how to use essential oils for several years. She offers free classes around the area and encourages free in-home consultations. “I think education is very important. You can get hurt with essential oils just like anything,” Hall said.

At another booth, Katie Terhark, Director of Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention (A.S.A.P.) spoke with people about the dangers of “vaping,” the inhaling and exhaling of water vapor from an electronic vaping device or electronic cigarette. This vapor contains varying amounts of nicotine, other solvents and flavorful juices. “Lungs were made for air only – even water vapor is dangerous,” Terhark said.

Members of the Garner Volunteer Ambulance Service, Alexis Gilbertson and Glen Juhl, demonstrated cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on one of the new resuscitation dummies, which was hooked up to a computer feedback device. Gilbertson said the device measures the compression rate and depth so people training in CPR would know if they were doing it correctly. Expo visitors were encouraged to give CPR a try.

Health Expo visitors went home with plenty of information, healthy snacks, clips, cold packs, exercise bands and other promotional items.

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