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WA library program lets people check out blood pressure kits

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Monday, February 26, 2024   

A new program in a Washington public library system is helping people monitor their blood pressure at home.

The American Heart Association has collaborated with Timberland Regional Library for the "Libraries with Heart" program, which allows people to check out at-home blood pressure monitoring kits.

Andrea Heisel, content and access director for Timberland Regional Library, said in the communities they serve, people sometimes have to travel long distances to get to the nearest doctor, or even a store offering a blood pressure monitoring machine.

"Getting these into people's hands so they can take them home and use them at their own convenience is another amazing resource that libraries can offer to people," Heisel explained. "We're just really happy to be able to offer that to our rural communities, especially."

Monitoring blood pressure is important for ensuring people have healthy hearts and preventing serious threats like heart failure and stroke. Timberland Regional Library has 29 libraries across five counties in southwest Washington.

Karissa LaClair, director of stroke program quality for Washington state-based Multicare Health System, which supports the program, said having a way to test blood pressure at home is important.

"Patients may have a 'white coat syndrome,' where they're really nervous and they experience stress when they're in the doctor's office," LaClair pointed out. "They have a chance to take the kit home and monitor their blood pressure there. Or maybe they have a family history of high blood pressure and they want to watch and see what their blood pressure is."

LaClair noted nearly half of Washingtonians have high blood pressure, but it is controllable through such means as medications, lifestyle changes and a healthy diet. She encourages people to follow up with their medical provider for a proper diagnosis after checking their blood pressure.

Disclosure: American Heart Association Western States Region contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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