HCN News & Notes

Blood-pressure Screenings Offered by Emergency Department Staff

WARE, PALMER —  Close to 60 million Americans have high blood pressure, but only about half of them know it. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the leading cause of strokes in the U.S. Yet, it’s also one of the common risk factors that can be prevented. High blood pressure can damage or weaken arteries in the brain, raising a person’s risk of having a stroke, according to the American Heart Assoc. (AHA).

The community is invited to come to the Emergency Department at Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital daily between the hours of 7 and 8 a.m., seven days a week, to have their blood pressure checked at no cost. No appointment is necessary.

“Our staff providing emergency care are committed to encouraging our community members to take steps to better health, beginning with knowing what their blood pressure is,” said Kimberly Davis, nurse manager of Emergency Services.

“Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, oftentimes has no symptoms at all, and it is a common misconception that high blood pressure is something that affects only those who are older or obese,” she added. “The reality is that, while our blood pressure does increase a little with age, high blood pressure can happen to anyone regardless of their age, gender, or weight, and high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, stroke, or kidney failure. Checking blood pressures is our way of letting the community know that we care about them every day and not just when they have a health emergency.”

In addition to conducting blood-pressure checks, the team is prepared to share education on blood-pressure screening follow-up, free blood-pressure monitoring cards, and information about access to primary-care providers and other relevant healthcare services upon request.

“Although our Emergency Department staff focuses their efforts on emergency stroke treatments, this effort will help us to improve stroke prevention,” said Dr. Robert Spence, chair of Emergency Medicine for Baystate Health’s Eastern Region, which includes Baystate Mary Lane and Baystate Wing Hospital. “Over 40{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of strokes could be prevented if high blood pressure was controlled. Unfortunately, when left untreated, high blood pressure and related health problems bring patients to our Emergency Department with serious medical concerns. Hypertension is called the silent killer, because people often don’t know they have it. You can’t feel it. It doesn’t cause pain. We hope to identify those in our community who are at risk and connect them with primary-care providers that can help them to make lifestyle changes that will promote a long and healthy life.”