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'Check It! Challenge' could lead to lower risk of heart disease and stroke

Thu, Dec 16th 2021 09:15 pm

American Heart Association program provides a way for people to improve their blood pressure

Guest Editorial by the American Heart Association

A program giving Western New Yorkers a chance to help control a silent killer is back in a big way. 

The American Heart Association is now recruiting participants for the “Check It! Challenge.” The challenge is a communitywide program encouraging people to check, change, and control their blood pressure. This year, the program is expanding to be statewide.

The “Check It! Challenge” is based on the American Heart Association’s “Check. Change. Control.” program, which is an evidence-based hypertension management program empowering participants to take ownership of their health using blood-pressure self-monitoring. The program incorporates the concepts of remote monitoring and tracking as key features to hypertension management.

Last year, the program focused on the Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse communities, and impacted more than 134,000 individuals. In self-reported surveys, 32% of participants saw improved blood pressure readings.

“Blood pressure control is more important now than ever,” said Jason Stulb, executive director of the American Heart Association Buffalo-Niagara Region. “At the start of the pandemic, most people were not taking good care of themselves. Increases in blood pressure were likely related to changes in eating habits, increased alcohol consumption, less physical activity, decreased medication adherence, more emotional stress and poor sleep. We know that even small rises in blood pressure increase one’s risk of stroke and other adverse cardiovascular disease events.”

The program is open to employers and community organizations, as well as individuals. The program runs from February (American Heart Month) through May (American Stroke Month). Each month features educational topics including controlling your blood pressure, eating smart and reducing sodium, moving more, and mental health and well-being.

Participants are asked to take their blood pressure at least twice a month during the program. Blood pressure checks can be performed with at-home monitors or at a doctor’s office.

Employers and organizations interested in joining should register at heart.org/CheckItChallenge or contact [email protected].

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as a silent killer. It typically has no symptoms, but can lead to deadly health consequences such as heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. About half of all Americans have high blood pressure, but many are unaware.

Additional resources:

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

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