You or someone you love could have high blood pressure and not even know it. It affects one in three adults. That's why local health officials are pushing for at least 10,000 blood pressure checks this month.
Once every three years, Matt Covey gets his blood pressure checked. He admits he should take time for screenings more often.
"Anytime you are a busy professional and you have a family and other responsibilities sometimes our health is the last thing we think about, but it should be one of the first things," Covey said.
As the principal of Sioux Falls Christian Elementary, Covey did get his blood pressure checked this week as part of the Big Squeeze. All the staff at the school also got the chance to get their blood pressure checked for free.
"Our performance is tied to our health, and knowing if we are at risk and if we need to make some changes would be important," Covey said.
During the Big Squeeze, the city of Sioux Falls is teaming up with health organizations to offer free blood pressure screenings to dozens of local organizations and businesses.
"We developed the Big Squeeze in the last four years because cardiovascular disease is the number one killer," Sanford Community Nurse Karla Lubben said.
High blood pressure is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
One of the benefits of the Big Squeeze is that if you find out you have high blood pressure, you can take steps to lower it.
"It's no good to know that you have it, if you don't control it," Lubben said.
Covey did find out his blood pressure is slightly higher than the recommended level. He hopes to lower it by managing his stress level and improving his diet.
"It is important to know where you are at and where you stand," Covey said.
You can lower your blood pressure by cutting the amount of sodium in your diet, eating an overall healthier diet, and exercising. Medications can also help if they're recommended by a doctor.