February is American Heart Month, and with recently published research indicating blood pressure control has worsened in both men and woman since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the YMCA of Greater Nashua urges community members to make their health a priority by getting a blood pressure screening. Blood pressure guidelines from American Heart Association indicate that nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is often referred to as “The Silent Killer” because there are typically no warning signs or symptoms.
In conjunction with St. Joseph Hospital and the Rivier University nursing program, the Y is offering a free Blood Pressure Clinic on Monday, Feb. 28, from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Nashua YMCA, 24 Stadium Drive. This event is open to the public. Research shows that the simple process of checking and recording your blood pressure at least twice a month over a four-month period, along with regular physical activity, proper nutrition and reducing sodium intake, may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
“St. Joseph Hospital’s Mobile Health Clinic recognizes partnerships are essential for community-based solutions to advance health equity. By collaborating on health and wellness initiatives, our partnership with the YMCA is an opportunity to connect with community members and provide screenings along with education to increase awareness and improve outcomes,” said Rosemary Ford, Director of St. Joseph Hospital’s Mobile Health Clinic.
The Y encourages heart health through its Diabetes Prevention Program, which is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps adults at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles to help reduce their chances of developing the disease. Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and people with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or suffer a stroke as those who do not have it. This program has been offered at the YMCA of Greater Nashua since 2015.
According to Kim Adie, director of healthy living at the YMCA, “This program motivates participants through lively class discussion and activities. We’ve seen a natural support net form between participants and they become each other’s biggest cheerleaders, helping each other navigate bumps and hurdles to find success.” The program provides a supportive environment where participants work together in a small group to learn about eating healthier, increasing their physical activity and making other behavioral changes with the goal of reducing body weight by 7% in order to reduce their risk for developing diabetes. A trained Lifestyle Coach leads the program over a 12-month period. Increased physical activity and moderate weight loss not only reduce diabetes risk, but also have an impact on lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
The next Diabetes Prevention Program session starts on March 17. That class will run Thursdays from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Westwood Park. Contact Adie at [email protected] for more information.
“While there are many ways to keep your heart healthy, making a conscious effort to tackle your blood pressure and decrease sodium intake are two quick, effective ways to prevent heart disease,” Adie said. “No matter what your heart health goal is this year, the Y has a variety of resources to help you get started and achieve them.”
The YMCA of Greater Nashua offers a community of diverse individuals who can support all people in meeting their health and well-being goals. Learn more by visiting www.nmymca.org or stopping into your local Y.
Elizabeth Covino is chief community relations officer for the YMCA of Greater Nashua.