Health Happening to focus on hypertension Oct. 24

About one-third of adults in the United States has high blood pressure, but because there are no outward symptoms, many people don’t know they have it. High blood pressure can lead to serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.

The School of Medicine is hosting free blood pressure screenings and offering information about stroke risk at Health Happening ’08 Oct. 24 from 7 a.m.-5 p.m.

The event, sponsored by the School of Medicine’s Wellness Council, will be held in the first-floor atrium of the McDonnell Pediatrics Research Building on Children’s Place and is free to all School of Medicine employees. The fair’s focus on hypertension will include free blood-pressure screenings by students in the medical degree program, the Program in Physical Therapy, the Program in Occupational Therapy, the Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences and the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Each participant will receive his or her results from the screener. All of the results will be kept confidential.

“We decided to focus on hypertension after the feedback we received from the first Health Happening ’08 held in the spring,” said Legail Chandler, director of human resources at the School of Medicine. “From the anonymous data we collected from the screenings offered that day, we realized that hypertension is a concern for many of our employees.”

In addition, Washington University faculty physicians specializing in stroke and cardiovascular diseases will be on hand to answer questions and offer information about stroke risks, the effects of hypertension and how to lower blood pressure.

Hypertension risk factors include obesity, excessive drinking and family history. Smoking increases the risk of complications from hypertension. Participants can learn more about the effects of smoking and hypertension, get information on smoking cessation and sign up for the free Freedom From Smoking classes offered by the University.

“Hypertension and smoking are a risky combination,” said Walton Sumner II, M.D., associate professor of medicine and a member of the Wellness Council. “Smoking makes the complications of high blood pressure happen faster. The good news is that we now have several safe, helpful and affordable treatments for both problems.”

Also on hand will be representatives from Siteman Cancer Center, who will work with employees to evaluate their risk for five major diseases using its Web site, an easy-to-use tool that offers information about risk factors and prevention strategies for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis.

Participants will be entered into a drawing for one of three $300 MasterCard money cards. The health results form used to record screening results will have a number on it. Winning numbers will be announced by e-mail Oct. 27. Winners must contact Human Resources to claim prizes.