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Partnership aims to boost blood pressure checks in North Minneapolis

Initiative in North Minneapolis aims to increase awareness of blood pressure risks
Initiative in North Minneapolis aims to increase awareness of blood pressure risks 02:07

MINNEAPOLIS — Inside North Market in the Camden Neighborhood of North Minneapolis, a device sits waiting for anyone to come by and take a few minutes to check their blood pressure.

Roughly 40% of all adults over the age of 18 have high blood pressure, and those figures increase if you are African American. The risks have forged an alliance between Pillsbury United Communities and Hennepin County to bring awareness to the issue.

"It's just as easy as putting your arm in a cuff and having it pump your arm a few times," said Jacara Warfield with Community Health Coordinator.

Warfield knows first hand how important it is to understand what the numbers means. She's been living with high blood pressure for 36 years.

High blood pressure can lead to lots of things that can shorten your life.

"We think of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. We think of these as something that impacts older people. We think it's something that will happen way in the future," said Krishnan Subrahmanian chief medical officer at Hennepin Health Care. 

RELATED: St. Paul hospital is home to a machine that improves heart attack survival rates

 Dr. Subrahmanian says younger people are having issues with high blood pressure. One of the contributing factor is stress.

"When you feel that stress at work or at home, everything tightens up and you can think about that with your blood vessels — those blood vessels are going to tighten up a little bit and makes it harder for blood to flow through and that's exactly what we call high blood pressure," Subrahmanian explained. 

He believes this little machine can mean big changes for health care in communities where there are disparities.

"The number one killer is heart disease, the number five killer in America is stroke and I just said the number one contributor to both of those is high blood pressure," he said.

About half of all African Americans suffer from hypertension and many are undiagnosed. The experts say understanding your risk factors are important too.   

"If you know high blood pressure runs in your family," said Warfield,  "get tested."

Higher rates of obesity and diabetes increase the risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. When not controlled, high blood pressure can lead to other conditions including death.

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