BALTIMORE — Health kiosks that provide biometric information including blood pressure readings, sponsored through a collaboration of the American Heart Association and LifeBridge Health, have been placed at two locations in the Baltimore area in the past month.
The placement of the Higi Smart Health Stations is the latest effort in the multi-year Stronger Hearts initiative between LifeBridge Health and the American Heart Association of Baltimore & Greater Maryland.
“Taking care of your heart should not only happen when you visit your doctor. We know that we need to meet people where they are – making it convenient and simple,” said Neil Meltzer, the CEO and President of LifeBridge Health.
On Sunday, March 20, a dedication ceremony was held at the Weinberg Park Heights Jewish Community Center for the third Higi smart health and blood pressure kiosk put in place under the Stronger Hearts initiative.
“We talk about the JCC standing for ‘Just Connect & Collaborate’ and this collaboration that we have with the American Heart Association and LifeBridge Health is truly a representation of the benefits that can come to a community from working together,” said Paul Lurie, the Chief Operating Office of The JCC of Greater Baltimore. ”
The first Higi station was opened at The JCC in Owings Mills in 2019, and officials from both organizations recently cut the ribbon on a second Higi kiosk, placed at the LifeBridge Health & Wellness Center in Pikesville on Feb. 28.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke and can be linked to more than half a million deaths in the United States each year.
“You can’t see high blood pressure,” said Dr. William Ashley, a neurosurgeon at LifeBridge Health and President of the American Heart Association Board of Directors for Baltimore & Greater Maryland. “About half of adults over 20 in the U.S. have high blood pressure, but many don’t know because it has no obvious symptoms, which is why it is often called the silent killer. These Higi stations can help people know their numbers and save lives.”
During its first month online, the more than 600 people had already used the Higi station at the LifeBridge Health & Fitness and nearly 1,000 sessions were logged in the last three months of 2021 at the Higi station at The J in Owings Mills, making it one of the most frequently used American Heart Association-sponsored kiosks in the country.
Jackie Simon, who credits the Higi station in Owings Mills with saving her life, spoke at both ribbon-cutting events.
“I had no reason to think I had high blood pressure. I work out, I eat properly, I’m far from overweight,” said Simon. “One day I used the machine and the lights went on, it went bright red, and my blood pressure was 200/100.”
Simon saw her doctor afterward and through the use of medication now has her hypertension regulated.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, it was in my genetics, but it just goes to show you don’t have to be overweight or out-of-shape to have high blood pressure,” she said. “But if I didn’t use the Higi machine that day, I would’ve never known. I’m here today because I used the machine.”
The Stronger Hearts initiative, which began in 2018, is a collaborative effort to create meaningful change in Maryland in the fight against cardiovascular disease and stroke.
“We are so grateful for LifeBridge Health and the Stronger Hearts collaboration, which has allowed us to bring together the resources of LifeBridge and the American Heart Association in our efforts to address our shared goals of the treatment and prevention of heart disease, which remains the leading cause of death in the U.S.,” said Tracy Brazelton, Executive Director of the AHA’s Baltimore & Greater Maryland division.
Wayne, a lifelong Marylander, is the communications director for the American Heart Association serving Baltimore and Greater Maryland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.