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May is American Stroke Month and National High Blood Pressure Education Month and this year, the CHQ 250 under the Million Hearts® campaign will focus on increasing public awareness of stroke risks and warning signs and educating the public about blood pressure control. The WCA Hospital Wellness, Cardiology, and Chautauqua County Health Action teams will join this effort by offering the general public FREE BLOOD PRESSURE checks during the month of May. No appointment is necessary and walk-ins are welcomed Monday – Friday, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.
To get your blood pressure checked, stop by the WCA Hospital Cardiology Department located at the main campus, 207 Foote Avenue, Jamestown, and check-in with the receptionist. The Cardiology Department is located on the 2nd Floor of the hospital, adjacent from the Auditorium. Blood pressures will be checked by a registered nurse. The screening only takes a few minutes. Anyone with a high blood pressure result will be referred to the Emergency Department or his/her primary care physician.
Blood pressure is commonly associated with narrowing of the arteries, which causes the heart and blood vessels to overwork. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers: the systolic pressure (as the heart beats) over the diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats).
“Most people cannot tell if their blood pressure is high because there are typically no symptoms,” said Toni DeAngelo, RN, WCA Community Health and Wellness Director. “High blood pressure is a common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels (arteries) at higher than normal pressures and can increase the risk of heart failure, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. The good news is that we have the ability to lower our blood pressure through lifestyle modifications and medication.”
Brenda Fitzgerald, RN, cardiac rehab specialist at WCA, tells us that high blood pressure can be prevented—and lowered—if people take the following preventative steps:
• Follow a healthy eating plan and reduce your salt intake.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Be moderately physically active for at least 30 minutes per day.
• Reduce your stress.
• Drink alcohol in moderation and don’t smoke.
• Take your medications and follow-up with your doctor.
“Approximately 1 in every 4 American adults has high blood pressure,” Brenda said. “Fortunately, you can find out if you have high blood pressure by having your blood pressure checked regularly. If it is high, you can take protective steps to lower it. Just as important, if your blood pressure is normal, take healthy steps to keep it from rising.”
In conjunction with the free blood pressure screening program at WCA, the Chautauqua County Action team will be on hand at the WCA Cardiology Department to offer participants education on the NEW Hands-Only Community CPR program. Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller, CHQ 250 coordinator, will be available on Friday, May 13, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and Monday, May 16, from Noon to 3 p.m. to educate the public on the new initiative.
Educational resources to prevent and/or control blood pressure will be made available during the screening. Printable patient information sheets are also available by visiting the American Heart Association at www.heart.org or contacting WCA Hospital Wellness at (716) 664-8677.