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Nearly Half of Adults May Have High Blood Pressure: The Big Squeeze is Underway

Apr 02, 2018

Nearly Half of Adults May Have High Blood Pressure: The Big Squeeze is Underway

With the release of new blood pressure guidelines by the American Heart Association last fall, nearly half of all adults may now fall into the high blood pressure category.

Live Well Sioux Falls and The Big Squeeze community team kicked off their eighth annual blood pressure awareness effort today to remind residents of all ages to know their numbers and take action. The new blood pressure guidelines lowered the measure for high blood pressure from 140/90 to 130/80. A normal reading would be lower than 120/80.

“It is fitting to kick off The Big Squeeze today,” says Sioux Falls Public Health Director Jill Franken, “because it is also the start of National Public Health Week, which is a week set aside each year to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation’s health. Everyone deserves to live a long and healthy life in a safe environment. To make this happen, we must tackle the causes of poor health and disease risk among individuals and within our communities. We know that preventive services, such as a routine blood pressure check, are at the forefront of improving health.”

Over the past seven years, Big Squeeze screenings have revealed that only about one-third of Sioux Falls adults have normal blood pressure readings. In addition, many people who had high readings at a Big Squeeze screening had never before been told by a health care professional that they have high blood pressure.

A group of public and private partners join Live Well Sioux Falls each year for this successful effort, including the American Heart Association, Augustana University, Avera Health, Lewis Drug, National American University, National Kidney Foundation, Sanford Health, South Dakota Department of Health, South Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota, the University of Sioux Falls, and Walgreens.

In addition to the project partners, The Big Squeeze engages other businesses and organizations in the community to host on-site blood pressure screenings. One organization that supports the effort is Sanford Health, which hosted today’s kick-off event at the Sanford Imagenetics facility.

“We are proud to partner with The Big Squeeze,” said Paul Hanson, executive vice president, Sanford Sioux Falls. “At Sanford Health, we are dedicated to the work of health and healing. Our entire Sanford team recognizes the value of healthy people, healthy families, and healthy communities. Investing in prevention efforts like The Big Squeeze helps our friends and neighbors reduce their risk for high blood pressure and other serious health conditions. We want to help spread the message that it is important to know your numbers and to take action.”

High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking. It is known as the “silent killer” because often there are no symptoms before a more serious health issue occurs.

The Big Squeeze has discovered a growing number of young adults in Sioux Falls with elevated blood pressure. Within the 18 to 24 age category, screenings over the past two years showed that only 32 percent of young men and 58 percent of young women had a healthy blood pressure reading.

There is good news when it comes to blood pressure, however.

“Although high blood pressure is a serious health issue, it can be managed,” said Franken. “But to manage blood pressure, you have to know your numbers—and that’s what The Big Squeeze is all about. A simple blood pressure screening might just save a life.”

You can find free screening locations happening this month on our online calendar of events.

For more information on how to become involved in The Big Squeeze, please contact Live Well Sioux Falls at