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Gwinnett Medical heart event draws hundreds

Teresa Irons, left center, and Joyce Barry, right center, practice yoga during the Heart Fair at the Gwinnett Center Saturday in Duluth.  The Heart Fair was sponsored by Gwinnett Medical Center as a celebration to the new heart center.

Teresa Irons, left center, and Joyce Barry, right center, practice yoga during the Heart Fair at the Gwinnett Center Saturday in Duluth. The Heart Fair was sponsored by Gwinnett Medical Center as a celebration to the new heart center.

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Anglice Wills and her son Aiden Wills get their blood pressure checked by registered nurse, Angel Boulware, right, during the Heart Fair at the Gwinnett Center Saturday in Duluth. The Heart Fair was sponsored by Gwinnett Medical Center as a celebration to the new heart center.

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People waite in the lobby of the Gwinnett Center as hundreds of people attended the Heart Fair Saturday in Duluth. The Heart Fair was sponsored by Gwinnett Medical Center as a celebration to the new heart center.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Orlando Montalvo doesn't really trust doctors.

He always feels like they are trying to up-sell him.

But on Saturday, he got an outside opinion -- for free -- as part of Gwinnett Medical Center's Take the Pledge for a Healthy Heart event at the Gwinnett Center.

He learned a bone-density scan found a problem that may need some attention, so he'll go see his doctor with the second opinion already in hand.

"It's a good thing you can get people at something like this ... get people to try something like this," Montalvo said, happy to see his wife try a yoga class. "I wanted to make sure we didn't have any issues."

The event, which offered free screenings in several areas, cooking demonstrations and even massages, was held to celebrate the Lawrenceville hospital's recent opening of the Strickland Heart Center, which now provides open-heart surgery.

Hospital spokeswoman Beth Okun said more than 750 registered for the event -- 50 percent more than the first projections.

"I think people are more and more sensitive to their health these days," Okun said. "There's also a great need."

Katrina Mayers laughed with her 6-year-old daughter Shuvonne as they tried a cardio dance class.

"We don't have no insurance, so we wanted to get a screening," Mayers said, but added that she didn't have a chance because of long lines.

In fact, people were waiting outside the Gwinnett Center at 6 a.m. to get the blood tests, which were no longer available an hour and a half into the event.

Sharon Hurst has a family history of heart disease, so she brought her whole family -- three generations -- to find out how they could be more healthy.

"I wanted them to get more information on the different health services and just become more informed," Hurst said, adding that she tried Zumba and is considering signing up for a class.

"It was like, 'I can do this,'" she said of starting a healthier lifestyle.