February is American Heart Month, and with recently published research indicating blood pressure control has worsened in both men an woman since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA urges our community members to make their health a priority by getting a blood pressure screening. Blood pressure guidelines from American Heart Association indicate that nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is often referred to as “The Silent Killer” because there are typically no warning signs or symptoms.
While high blood pressure and heart disease are serious conditions, the good news is a healthy heart is an achievable goal through lifestyle changes such as lowering sodium intake, eating healthier, and getting more physical activity. Getting help can be as easy as contacting the Y and taking part in the YMCA’s Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program or Cardiac Rehab programs.
The YMCA’s Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program helps adults with hypertension lower and better manage their blood pressure. The program focuses on regular monitoring of one’s blood pressure at home using proper measuring techniques, individualized support and nutrition education to potentially reduce blood pressure and improve their quality of life.
Research shows that the simple process of checking and recording your blood pressure at least twice a month over a four-month period, along with regular physical activity, proper nutrition and reducing sodium intake, may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
In addition to monitoring your blood pressure, reducing sodium intake is a great way to keep your heart healthy. Per the American Heart Association (AHA), too much sodium in your system puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure. Everyone, including kids, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure.
The YMCA’s Cardiac Rehab program is a maintenance program designed for individuals with heart, stroke and hypertension issues as well as those who suffer from diabetes or fibromyalgia. One on one attention is given in a group setting. Everyone begins with a warm up routine, prescribed cardio and strength exercises in the fitness center followed by a cool down and stretching exercises. Program director Lori Egan-Scollan has 32 years of nursing experience and has been a member of the Meriden YMCA since 1997. She works closely with several cardiologists and a team of trained cardiac rehab instructors to bring the best possible care and attention to all of our participants.
“While there are many ways to keep your heart healthy, making a conscious effort to tackle your blood pressure and decrease sodium intake are two quick, effective ways to prevent heart disease,” said Carrie Marquardt, Health and Wellness Director, Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA. “No matter what your heart health goal is this year, the Y has a variety of resources to help you get started and achieve them.”
The Meriden-New Britain-Berlin YMCA offers a community of diverse individuals who can support all people in meeting their health and well-being goals. Learn more by visiting meridenymca.org or calling Carrie at 203.440.1925.