New service focuses on blood pressure education, monitoring

The Health District is offering a new, free service to help clients take control of their health and improve their blood pressure.

High blood pressure (HBP), also known as hypertension, is a common, dangerous, and controllable condition. Nearly five out of ten American adults have HBP, and of those five with the condition, only about half have it under control, according to the American Heart Association.

Left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, and even dementia—but these are often preventable when safe blood pressure levels are achieved and maintained.

“You can’t feel your blood pressure, you have to check it to know what it is and then understand what to do if it’s high,” explains Cheri Nichols, RN and clinical nurse manager for the Health District’s Heart Health Promotion program. Getting your blood pressure checked only during doctor’s office visits isn’t enough. Many things affect your blood pressure, and it is normal for it to change throughout the day. It is valuable to get a sampling of blood pressure readings that shows what it is over time and under various circumstances and then share those readings with your provider.

The new blood pressure program gives clients a chance to work one-on-one with a registered nurse to learn the basics of blood pressure and how to correctly use a blood pressure cuff to measure and record blood pressure at home. Discussions include how HBP can be improved by medications, diet, exercise, stress reduction, and other lifestyle factors, as well as how to prepare for an effective discussion with your health-care provider about your concerns and treatment options.

Nurses will lend clients a cuff for 2-3 weeks to practice self-monitoring or help them choose the best one to purchase. If you already monitor your blood pressure at home, they will compare results manually to ensure you’re getting accurate readings.

“Getting hypertension under control has a wide-spread positive impact on your health because high blood pressure affects your entire body,” Nichols says.

If you’re interested in participating in the program or have questions, call 970-224-5209.

The Health District also offers a free monthly walk-in blood pressure reading and consultation with a registered nurse on the second Monday of the month from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. at the Fort Collins Senior Center, 1200 Raintree. No appointment is necessary and you are encouraged to bring your blood pressure record.