Healthy hearts: SBMC celebrates Go Red day with free BP checks

ALABASTER – An initiative aimed at teaching residents about the importance of staying well-informed when it comes to their heart health took place at Shelby Baptist Medical Center on Friday, Feb. 7, which was also Go Red for Women day.

During the event, which was held inside the hospital near the entrance of the cafeteria, firefighters with the Alabaster Fire Department offered free blood pressure checks to the public while SBMC marketing manager Brian Pavlick offered goodie bags and informative handouts related to heart health.

Since there are no real signs or symptoms of high blood pressure, so most people don’t know that they have high blood pressure. Pavlick said a person’s blood pressure can be an outward sign that indicates what’s happening on the inside.

For those diagnosed with high blood pressure, Pavlick noted that it is important for them to know what their normal blood pressure range is so they can better recognize when their blood pressure has gotten too high. Even those without high blood pressure should check their blood pressure at least once or twice a year, Pavlick said.

It’s normal for people’s blood pressures to increase when they’re stressed or upset, but a concern arises when someone’s blood pressure is high or low for an extended period of time.

For 18 months now, SMBC has offered structural heart services for those who have strokes or have been diagnosed with a structural heart and valve disease. The hospital performs three minimally invasive procedures that are unique because of their quick recovery time. With these procedures, open heart surgery is no longer the only option for some patients.

Shelby Baptist Medical Center announced on Jan. 9 that it earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Primary Stroke Center Accreditation. To receive the Gold Seal, health care organizations must demonstrate continuous compliance with performance standards set by The Joint Commission. Shelby Baptist underwent a rigorous onsite review during which a team of Joint Commission reviewers evaluated compliance with stroke-related standards and requirements, including program management, the delivery of clinical care and performance improvement.

But even with cutting-edge technology, residents still need to be educated about strokes in order to help themselves. The BE FAST acronym is the best way for residents to assess if they may be having a stroke. B – balance, loss of balance; Eyes – trouble seeing out of one or both eyes; F – face, facial droop/weakness; A – arm, weakness in arm, or leg; S – speech, slurred or loss of speech; T – time, get to the hospital as soon as possible.

How quickly a person gets to the hospital determines the level of care they receive. Waiting to see if symptoms persist or go away is a common mistake that patients make because certain medications given to patients having a stroke can’t be administered more than three-to-four hours after the onset of stroke symptoms.

According to the American Stroke Association, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Intervening quickly is the key to preventing long-term disability.

It is advised that people know their stroke risk factors, like having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and obesity. Strokes can affect people of all ages, but those with these risk factors are more susceptible.