One in Three Has High Blood Pressure—Is it You? Annual Big Squeeze Blood Pressure Awareness Effort Kicks Off Today!

The Big Squeeze 2017 is under way. Live Well Sioux Falls and The Big Squeeze community team kicked off their seventh annual blood pressure awareness effort today.

“We know that preventive services, such as a routine blood pressure check, are at the forefront of improving health,” said Mary Michaels, Public Health Prevention Coordinator for the Sioux Falls Health Department. “What we have learned through The Big Squeeze is that only about one-third of adults screened through the program had normal blood pressure readings. And, of those who had high readings, many had never been told by a health care professional that they have high blood pressure.”

During the 2016 Big Squeeze, 34 percent of adults screened had a normal blood pressure (below 120/80), 45 percent were in the “at risk” category, and 21 percent had high blood pressure readings. Of those screened with the high readings, 39 percent were not aware they could have high blood pressure.

A group of public and private partners from the Sioux Falls community drive this successful effort, including the American Heart Association, Augustana University, Avera Health, City of Sioux Falls, DAKOTACARE, Lewis Drug, Sanford Health, South Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota, the University of Sioux Falls, and Walgreens.

In addition to the project partners, The Big Squeeze engages other businesses and organizations in the community to host on-site blood pressure screenings. One organization that supports the effort is Augustana University, which hosted today’s kick-off event.

“We are proud to partner with The Big Squeeze,” said Rob Oliver, President of Augustana University. “Many of our students serve as volunteer blood pressure screeners throughout the month. The Big Squeeze provides them with valuable experience in serving others, and an understanding of the health and well-being of the community. The well-being of our students and staff here at Augustana University is a priority, and that is why we are also offering blood pressure screenings here today. We know that young people are also at risk for high blood pressure, and we want to help spread the message that it is important to know your numbers and to take action.”

Nicole Grinager is a nursing student at Augustana University, and she understands the importance of healthy lifestyle habits, such as blood pressure screenings: “As nursing students, we learn that high blood pressure can affect any one at any age. However, younger adults may not stop and think about the fact that they are indeed at risk. And, because it is that ‘silent killer’ without any direct symptoms of its own, the best thing you can do is check your blood pressure regularly and take action if it is high,” said Grinager.

The Big Squeeze has discovered a growing number of young adults in Sioux Falls with elevated blood pressure. Within the 18-to-24 age category, the 2016 screening project found only 24 percent of young men and 58 percent of young women had a healthy blood pressure reading.

There is good news when it comes to blood pressure, however.

“Although high blood pressure is a serious health issue, it can be managed,” said Sioux Falls Health Department’s Michaels. “But to manage blood pressure, you have to know your numbers—and that’s what The Big Squeeze is all about. A simple blood pressure screening might just save a life.”

Have your blood pressure checked today! Free screening locations for the April project can be found at www.thebigsqueezesf.org.

For more information on how to become involved in The Big Squeeze, please contact Live Well Sioux Falls at livewell@siouxfalls.org or call 605-367-8286.