Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure and many do not know they have it. Now, the American Heart Association, with the support of WellSpan Health, is making it easier for York, Lebanon and Lancaster county residents to get their blood pressure tested and get the tools they need to manage it. Beginning this February, select libraries will become a one-stop shop to check your blood pressure and check out a home blood pressure monitor.
Guthrie Memorial Library in Hanover, York County launched the program on Feb. 14, 2023. The library now offers all York County Library System card holders the opportunity to check-out a home blood pressure monitor, just like they would check out a book. Members wishing to check-out a blood pressure monitor may inquire about them at the main desk any time during regular business hours. There will also be one blood pressure monitor available to use while visiting the library. All cuffs will come with instructions in English and Spanish.
In addition to the blood pressure monitor loaner program, blood pressure screenings will be provided at Guthrie Memorial Library by WellSpan Health from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. every second Tuesday of the month, starting Feb. 14. Family First Health will provide screenings on the third Tuesday of the month from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The American Heart Association, with the support of WellSpan Health, is working to expand the blood pressure monitor loaner program to more libraries. The program will launch at Lebanon Community Library on March 21, with blood pressure screenings provided on the third Tuesday of every month from 9-11 a.m. Ephrata Public Library will introduce the program starting April 3, with blood pressure screenings provided by WellSpan Health on the first Monday of the month from 1-3 p.m.
The only way to know if you have high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke, is to have your blood pressure tested. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend monitoring your blood pressure numbers at home in addition to your regular health care visits.
Follow these tips to accurately measure your blood pressure at home:
- Be still. Don’t smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Empty your bladder and ensure at least 5 minutes of quiet rest before measurements.
- Sit correctly. Sit with your back straight and supported (on a dining chair, rather than a sofa). Your feet should be flat on the floor and your legs should not be crossed. Your arm should be supported on a flat surface (such as a table) with the upper arm at heart level. Make sure the bottom of the cuff is placed directly above the bend of the elbow. Check your monitor’s instructions for an illustration or have your health care professional show you how.
- Measure at the same time every day. It’s important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening. It is best to take the readings daily however ideally beginning 2 weeks after a change in treatment and during the week before your next appointment.
- Take multiple readings and record the results. Each time you measure, take two or three readings one minute apart and record the results using a printable (PDF) tracker. If your monitor has built-in memory to store your readings, take it with you to your appointments. Some monitors may also allow you to upload your readings to a secure website after you register your profile.
- Don’t take the measurement over clothes.
Learn more about high blood pressure at heart.org.