NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The American Heart Association (AHA) donated 30 blood pressure kits to the Nashville Public Library for Davidson County residents free for check-out for up to 84 days at a time.
"You don't have to worry about, 'Oh, can I afford one from my local pharmacy? Would my insurance help cover it?' No, as long as you have a Nashville Public Library card which is free for Nashville and Davidson County residents, these are open and available to you," explained Ed Brown, with the Nashville Public Library.
The kits include a blood pressure cuff, digital monitor and a booklet patrons can keep that helps explain the readings, healthier choices and provides a daily log. Click here to watch a video of how to properly measure blood pressure.
"High blood pressure is a silent killer," stated Mozetta Jackson, American Heart Association Nashville Health Strategies vice president. "Nearly 50% of people in the United States have high blood pressure, and they don't know that they have it and so you want to make sure you get your blood pressure checked regularly. And if your numbers are high, definitely monitor it and do everything you can to get it lowered."
"We've made it so convenient... that you can go to 21, you know, different library locations, and check out a cuff for free and just to see what your numbers are," explained Jackson. "The booklet that's included... outlines what high numbers are and the booklet also includes different locations of the hospital partner that we're working with, Neighborhood Health."
Those who wish to check out a blood pressure kit from the library should request it online with their library card.
"When you're in the catalog search bar, all you need to type is 'blood pressure kit.' It will bring it up and from there you place a hold," explained Brown. "You just select which location you prefer to pick it up about two or three days later, we'll have it shipped to that location you'll get an email notification saying your item is ready for pick up and then you've got seven days to come get it."
Checking out a blood pressure kit does not require a health reason but rather an interest in a healthy body.
"A few of the things that affect high blood pressure are stress, you know, not eating properly, not exercising, and all of those things have increased in America since COVID," explained Jackson. "Now people are more stressed out. Less people have access to insurance because when people have been laid off. People have not been eating as healthy as they were before; people have been drinking more. So all of those — and the added stress and those changes in lifestyle have led to higher and increased blood pressure numbers."
According to the American Heart Association, in Davidson County, 34.4% of adults have known high blood pressure which is higher than the national average of 32.9%. This fact propelled the AHA to donate thousands of dollars for the kits.
The AHA also reported heart disease continues to lead deaths in the United States. High blood pressure is the leading cause of the disease that often causes strokes.
Brown explained when the AHA approached the library about the partnership, it was an easy decision, "Our motto is 'books are only half the story.' And so with this partnership with the American Heart Association, we have an opportunity to provide something that a lot of people need that a lot of people will find valuable, and it's just a new way that we continue to serve the people of Nashville."
For library patrons who want to take their heart-health knowledge a step further than their own blood pressure reading, books about heart health are also available for check out with blood pressure kits at the Nashville Public Library.