Make a Vow to Lower Blood Pressure and Reduce Sodium Intake During American Heart Month

Volusia County – February is American Heart Month and as a leading community-based organization committed to improving the community’s health, the Volusia Flagler Family YMCA urges everyone in Volusia and Flagler County to help prevent heart disease by lowering your blood pressure. Two ways to keep the pressure off your heart are by monitoring your blood pressure and reducing sodium intake.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the nation’s number one killer, responsible for 1 in 3 deaths each year in the United States. Additionally, 32.6 percent—about 80 million adults—have high blood pressure with less than half having it under control. High blood pressure is most prevalent in minority communities, and is often referred to as “The Silent Killer” because there are typically no warning signs or symptoms.

To address the prevalence of heart disease, the Y has made a national commitment to the Million Hearts campaign, an initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes.

As part of this commitment, the Volusia Flagler Family YMCA offers the YMCA’s Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program that helps adults with hypertension lower and better manage their blood pressure. The program focuses on regular monitoring of one’s blood pressure at home using proper measuring techniques, individualized support and nutrition education in an effort to reduce blood pressure and improve their quality of life.

Research shows that the simple process of checking and recording your blood pressure at least twice a month over a four-month period, along with regular physical activity, proper nutrition and reducing sodium intake, may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

To date, 260 participants in Volusia County have participated in the program. Nationally, Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring is available at 160 sites in 27 states and will expand to more in 2017. To date, participants lowered their systolic blood pressure by an average of 4.9 mmhg between initial and final readings.

Besides monitoring your blood pressure, reducing sodium intake is a great way to keep your heart healthy. Per the American Heart Association (AHA), too much sodium in your system puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure. Everyone, including kids, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure.

“There are many factors in keeping your heart healthy and having a handle on your blood pressure and sodium intake are effective tools in the preventing heart disease,” said Bev Johnson, Executive Vice President of Healthy Strategy “Whether you have high blood pressure, are at risk for heart disease or want to keep your heart healthy the Y has resources that can help achieve better health.”

In addition to programs and services offered in Volusia County the Y offers the following tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help reduce sodium in your diet.

  1. Think fresh: Most of the sodium Americans eat is found in processed foods. Eat highly processed foods less often and in smaller portions—especially cheesy foods, such as pizza; cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli/luncheon meats; and ready-to-eat foods, like canned chili, ravioli and soups. Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium.
  2. Enjoy home-prepared foods: Cook more often at home—where you are in control of what’s in your food. Preparing your own foods allows you to limit the amount of salt in them.Fill up on veggies and fruits—they are naturally low in sodium: Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits—fresh or frozen. Eat a vegetable or fruit at every meal.
  3. Adjust your taste buds:  Cut back on salt little by little—and pay attention to the natural tastes of various foods. Your taste for salt will lessen over time. Additionally, keep salt off the kitchen counter and the dinner table and substitute spices, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice to season foods.
  4. Boost your potassium intake: Choose foods with potassium, which may help to lower your blood pressure. Potassium is found in vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, beet greens, tomato juice and sauce, sweet potatoes, beans (white, lima, kidney), and bananas. Other sources of potassium include yogurt, clams, halibut, orange juice and milk.

The programs the Port Orange Family YMCA will be hosting the following events this February:

  • The Port Orange Family  YMCA Healthy Ling Center will host the Halifax Health Heart Mural beginning Sunday, February 19th through Wednesday, February 22nd.
  • Heart Health Member Appreciation Day on Monday, February 20th, where you can join the Y and save the $50 joiner fee is waived.
  • The Port Orange YMCA Healthy Living Center will host Mark Spivey, MA, LCSW, a licensed clinical therapist on Tuesday, February 21st at 6:30 pm. will speak; “Don’t Worry About It: How to cope with Stress and Anxiety” How worrying increases unhealthy stress while decreasing healthy sleep.
  • BP screenings will be offered Monday, February 20th through Thursday February, 24 from 8:00am- 10:00am in the Port Orange Family YMCA lobby.
  • DASH diet lecture schedule for Feb. 22 at 12:00pm. This lecture will be taught by JoAnn Maurice, Heart Healthy Ambassador, speaking on what the DASH diet is, how it can help manage blood pressure and protect your heart.

The Volusia Flagler Family YMCA offers a community of diverse individuals who can support all people in meeting their health and well-being goals. Learn more by visiting, contact Randolyn Haley at; call 386.425.5210 or visit your local Family YMCA.



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