The importance of checking your blood pressure regularly

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DENVER (KDVR) -- February is American Heart Month, which is a good reminder to get your blood pressure checked—even if you feel healthy.

According to the American Heart Association, nearly half of adults the U.S. have high blood pressure—which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

The YMCA if offering a blood pressure self-monitoring program across metro Denver, telling Fox31 diet and exercise are only part of a heart healthy lifestyle.

That’s something 77-year-old Don Nimtz discovered last year.

He has a steady gym routine at the YMCA, in Arvada.

“In the winter, I’m here 4 or 5 times a week,” he told Fox31, shortly before starting his workout.

Which is why a high blood pressure reading, that he got at the YMCA in Arvada, caught him off guard.

“I think it was in the 170 range,” he recalled. “I feel like my diet is pretty good and I regularly exercise, so it was a big surprise to me.”

This is one of several YMCA locations in metro Denver that offers the testing on site, as part of their blood pressure self-monitoring program.

“High blood pressure doesn’t usually come with symptoms. It’s usually silent,” said Libertad Mendivil, Community Health Recruiter for YMCA of Metro Denver.

“So you wouldn’t know if you had high blood pressure unless you took your blood pressure consistently,” she added.

The program pairs people, like Nimtz, with what’s called a healthy heart ambassador—which essentially is an accountability coach for your heart.

“The main focus is to make sure they’re taking their blood pressure at home at least twice a month, and coming in to check with a healthy heart ambassador at the Y at least twice a month with consultation and help them with their goals,” said Mendivil.

“The more they check it at home and the more they have that support from the healthy heart ambassador, then they are more conscious of the numbers changing,” she added.

The YMCA also offers a nutrition education seminar, focusing on healthy eating habits and lower sodium intake.

Nimtz says it was stress that caused a spike in his blood pressure, which, has since stabilized.

“I went through their whole program. Naturally, I went to see my doctor. I’m on some meds now and I believe it’s under control,” he told Fox31.

For more information on the program, click here.

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