SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Chances are you or someone you know has high blood pressure and doesn't even know it. One in three adults has high blood pressure.
It's often called "the silent killer" because it has no symptoms. As part of a campaign called "The Big Squeeze," several organizations in Sioux Falls received new blood pressure cuffs.
89-year-old Harlan Meyer gets his blood pressure checked by parish nurses every two months. It's an issue that hits close to his heart.
"I had open heart surgery in 1976, and the doctor told me to walk, so I've been walking ever since," Meyer said.
Meyer says before his surgery 35 years ago, he didn't even know he had heart problems. That is not unusual.
"We can reduce heart failure by 50 percent if we control blood pressure. We can reduce heart attacks by up to 25 percent, and about 40 percent of strokes could be reduced," Sanford Parish Nurse Coordinator Kara Lubben said.
Now parish nurses, Lubben, are able to help out more. At this Stepping Into Good Health clinic in Sioux Falls, nurses and volunteers have received a new manual blood pressure cuff. Before they just had an electronic cuff.
"But if there is an irregular heartbeat or something like that, it's difficult to actually get an accurate blood pressure. Really the gold standard is a manual blood pressure cuff, and then using a stethoscope with a trained ear," Lubben said.
If nurses or volunteers find that someone does have a high blood pressure reading here, then he or she is either referred to a doctor or has to come back next week for another reading.
"I think it's really important with things like this that we start getting younger people to check it. They don't think it's a bad thing. If we can get those controlled earlier, we can prevent even more," Lubben said.
Prevention is what Meyer says is key because he's noticed a difference in his health since he started taking steps to lower his blood pressure.
"I think everyone when they get older should have their blood pressure checked," Mayer said.
The around two dozen blood pressure cuffs that were distributed throughout the Sioux Falls community were paid for through a grant by the 7th District Medical Society.
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