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Almost two-thirds of Sioux Falls adults could be at risk for high blood pressure


SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO-AM) According to the 2014 Big Squeeze initiative, nearly two-thirds of Sioux Falls residents may be at risk for high blood pressure.

Live Well Sioux Falls and The Big Squeeze community team have released results from its April initiative, which focused on performing blood pressure screenings and delivering education about high blood pressure to Sioux Falls residents.

This community-wide blood pressure initiative has been very successful over the last four years. The project started in 2011 with 2,500 residents receiving a blood pressure check. This year, nearly 9,000 residents were screened at community sites such as drug stores, dental offices, employers, and churches. In addition, local primary clinics obtained blood pressure readings on 50,000 Sioux Falls residents during the month of April.

Results of the community screenings showed that:

  • 35 percent had a normal blood pressure reading (less than 120/80).
  • 45 percent were in the at-risk category (121–139/81–89).
  • 19 percent had a high reading (140–179/90–109).
  • 1 percent had a critically high reading (greater than 180/110).


Of those with high readings, more than one-third had never been told by a health care professional that they had high blood pressure.

A group of public and private partners from the Sioux Falls community lead The Big Squeeze effort each year, including the American Heart Association, Avera Health, City of Sioux Falls, DAKOTACARE, Lewis Drug, Novartis, Sanford Health, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue, and Walgreens.

As part of a pilot project this year at some locations, The Big Squeeze also offered waist circumference screenings because of the well-established relationship between where people carry their weight and blood pressure. A normal waist circumference for women is less than 35 inches, and the normal measurement for men is less than 40 inches.

Of the 1,158 residents who participated in this additional screening, 527 were women and 631 were men. In the women’s group, 34 percent had an above-normal waist circumference, and of those above normal, 61 percent also had an elevated blood pressure reading. Even more astonishing results came from the men’s group, where 32 percent had an above-normal waist circumference and 93 percent of that group also had an elevated blood pressure reading. While developed only as a pilot study, the results seem to demonstrate that individuals with above-normal waist circumference are at greatly increased risk for elevated blood pressure.

“The Big Squeeze directly correlates with the Live Well Sioux Falls initiative,” says Jill Franken, Public Health Director. “Through Live Well, we are educating the residents of Sioux Falls on how to live a healthier lifestyle through improved nutrition, increased physical activity, and reduced tobacco use, which can reduce their risk factors for heart disease as well as other chronic diseases.”

“The Big Squeeze is a valuable tool in talking with the community about knowing their numbers and managing high blood pressure once they know they have it,” says Dr. Paul Amundson, Chief Medical Officer for DAKOTACARE and chair of the Sioux Falls Board of Health. “Preventive services, such as routine disease screenings, are at the forefront to reducing death and disability and improving the nation’s health by detecting medical conditions at earlier, more treatable stages.”

An executive summary of this year’s results is available at www.thebigsqueezesf.org. If you would like to be a part of The Big Squeeze in 2015, please contact livewell@siouxfalls.org or call 605-367-8031.