JACKSONVILLE, Fla - High blood pressure affects 75 million Americans. Many patients are aware of the problem but they don't control it through monitoring, medication, or lifestyle changes. The YMCA is committed to helping educate people on how to lead a healthier life.
The self-monitoring program empowers participants to monitor their own levels through education and teamwork.
Elizabeth Allen was in a large number of Americans at risk of heart disease and stroke.
Her doctor said she needed to do something or risk death.
"My primary care doctor told me to get a life and so I joined the Y," says Allen.
It gave her life in more ways than she ever imagined.
She lost weight and learned habits that will allow her to keep losing, and she's managing her blood pressure for the first time in a long time.
"I was heavy, I was much heavier than I am now. My sugar has dropped, my blood pressure has dropped, and I don't take any more blood pressure medicine and I was on three.
I've lost about 25 pounds so I'm doing great," says Allen.
She's doing it all through the Blood Pressure Self Monitoring Program at the YMCA.
Participants are encouraged to monitor their blood pressure at least twice a month for four months,
take nutrition education seminars and work with a healthy heart ambassador.
That job belongs to Norris Davis, whose passion for health is personal.
"I was diagnosed with blood pressure and keeping my blood pressure low makes me want to help others," says Davis.
Davis takes no excuses, sets the bar high, and puts in the same work he requires from his team.
"What Mr. Norris had me doing is taking my pressure every day and send him a screenshot.
I couldn't just write it down, he wasn't going to take that, I had to screenshot it and let him see what it was," says Allen.
Lisa Peacock is the YMCA director of Healthy Living Innovations.
She says this program is so effective because of that accountability.
"They're also working with each other and learning from each other. We've seen a lot of people adjust their medications, changed their nutrition or how they are eating, and then most importantly lowering their blood pressure which has been significant, " says Peacock.
Learning how to eat is a big part of the program.
There's a healthy potluck where everyone brings a dish that's low in sodium, fat, and calories.
They break bread and break chains that have held them hostage to a silent killer .
"We are sisterhood here, we embrace everybody, because everyone here has a story," says Allen.
The program is only $80 dollars for 16 weeks.
Participants can also receive a blood pressure monitor for free if needed.
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