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The Hastings Family YMCA is hoping to tackle the high blood pressure epidemic locally with a new program.

On June 21, the YMCA kicked off its blood pressure self-monitoring program with an open house, giving people the chance to check their blood pressure and sign up for the four-month program.

According to the American Heart Association, one out of three American adults has high blood pressure.

With that in mind, the YMCA decided to bring the self-monitoring program to Adams County.

Through the program, a person can visit the 16th Street YMCA or Keith’s Drive In Drug, 500 N. Hastings Ave., two times a month to have their blood pressure taken. They also would take it twice a month at home along with attending nutrition classes at the YMCA.

The four-month long program is free and doesn’t require a person to be a member of the Hastings Family YMCA.

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Dr. David Schram gives a presentation on hypertension during the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program launch Tuesday at the Hastings Family YMCA.

Dr. David Schram of Family Medical Center attended Tuesday’s kickoff and said he’s excited to see a program like this in Hastings.

“Anytime we can get community support to tackle health problems, it’s awesome,” he said.

Schram said many people don’t realize they have high blood pressure and if they don’t, they might not be taking care of themselves the way they should.

“For those who do, it’s important to take ownership of their disease and take steps to monitor their blood pressure regularly than hoping the pills are doing the work,” Schram said.

Every time a person visits the YMCA to have their blood pressure taken, that person meets with a Healthy Heart Ambassador who will check their blood pressure and talk with them.

“When they come in, we talk about how things are going, what they are doing different, about their diet and exercise,” said Caleb Hahne, a Healthy Heart Ambassador and YMCA employee.

To quality for the program, a person must be at least 18 years old, be diagnosed with high blood pressure, not have had a recent cardiac event, not have atrial fibrillation or other arrhythmias and not be at risk for lymphedema.

Andrew McCarty, registered nurse with the Mary Lanning Healthcare Stroke Program, had a booth at Tuesday’s kickoff and said he was excited to see a program like this available in the community.  

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Healthy Heart Spanish Ambassador Melody Bailey adjusts the blood pressure cuff on Liliana Rosales' arm during the Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program launch Tuesday at the Hastings Family YMCA.

“I am here because the No. 1 risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure,” McCarty said. “You need to keep your blood pressure in check. In terms of statistics, there is a high percentage of people who when they have their first stroke also have high blood pressure.”

McCarty said there are a variety of reasons to keep blood pressure in check. The possibility of a stroke is just one of those reasons.

“Check your blood pressure so you know what it is and have a frame of reference,” McCarty said. “I can guarantee there are people who will come in here today that didn’t know they had high blood pressure and are hypertensive.”

People interested in participating in the free program can sign up at either YMCA location, Keith’s Drive In Drugs, or by calling the YMCA at 402-463-3139.