NYC Delivers Free Blood Pressure Machines To Pharmacies

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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High blood pressure is a time bomb that can trigger a deadly heart attack or stroke without warning. And because the condition often has no symptoms, getting checked is the only way to know whether you have it and if it is under control. To make checking your blood pressure easier and more accessible, the Health Department is teaming up with pharmacies in East and Central Harlem, the South Bronx, and North and Central Brooklyn to provide blood pressure monitoring machines at no cost. Harlem residents are already taking advantage of the pilot program – having clocked over 17,000 read-outs on the new machines since they were installed this summer. In coming weeks, the program will reach pharmacies in the Bronx and Brooklyn as well.

High blood pressure is rampant in New York City. One in four adults is affected, and 20% of them don’t know it. Worse yet, fewer than half of affected New Yorkers have the condition under control – a lapse that results in thousands of heart attacks, strokes, and preventable deaths each year.

The situation is worse in the South Bronx, Harlem and parts of Brooklyn. In those neighborhoods, one in three adults has high blood pressure.

The new campaign urges residents of these neighborhoods to visit pharmacies to get a free blood pressure reading. In addition to testing services, the kiosks provide information on healthy and unhealthy blood pressure levels, tips on how to control your blood pressure, and advice on when to seek a doctor’s care. These pharmacies also offer a free card to help you track your measurements and take with you to the doctor.

“If you have high blood pressure, Eight dollars a pack checking your numbers regularly and making sure they are in control can save your life,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York City Health Commissioner. “Taking your medicine as prescribed, exercising, and cutting your salt intake will all help bring your blood pressure down. If you smoke, quitting will help you avoid a heart attack.”

For more information, people in the targeted neighborhoods can visit nyc.gov/health or look for “Check Your Blood Pressure Here!” decals in the windows of participating pharmacies. The Health Department is also promoting the program through public housing facilities, local clinics and faith-based organizations, and on billboards.

* Take all the medication your doctor prescribes - even if you feel fine. When diet and exercise aren't enough, blood pressure-lowering medicines are safe and effective.

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* Take all the medication your doctor prescribes – even if you feel fine. When diet and exercise aren’t enough, blood pressure-lowering medicines are safe and effective.

* Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (such as a brisk walk) at least five times a week.

* If you’re overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure.

* If you smoke, quit now. If you have high blood pressure, smoking more than doubles your risk of a heart attack. For free help quitting, call 311.

* Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat dairy products and lean meat and fish.

* Limit salt (sodium) in your diet.

* Limit your alcohol intake.

* Ask your doctor if taking low-dose aspirin can help reduce your chance of heart attack or stroke.

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