A program giving New Yorkers a chance to help control a silent killer is back.
The American Heart Association is now recruiting participants for the Check It! Challenge. The challenge is a community-wide program encouraging people to check, change, and control their blood pressure. The program began in Central New York and the Southern Tier and has expanded across the state.
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 reached more than 315,000 individuals at almost 100 organizations statewide. In self-reported surveys, 63% of participants saw improved blood pressure readings.
“Blood pressure control is more important now than ever,” said Franklin Fry, executive director of the American Heart Association in the Greater Syracuse region. “We know blood pressure levels rose among U.S. adults after the pandemic-related shutdowns. Even small rises in blood pressure increase one’s risk of stroke and other adverse cardiovascular disease events. The Check it! Challenge can help move the needle and improve blood pressure numbers in our community.”
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 “how to” topics including managing your blood pressure, eating better, getting more active, and improving whole body health.
Participants are encouraged to take their blood pressure at least twice a month during the program. Blood pressure checks may be performed with at-home monitors or at a doctor’s office. If your blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, be sure to get it checked at least once every two years, starting at age 20. If your blood pressure is higher, your doctor may want to check it more often. High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes and/or medication.
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.