‘Know Your Numbers’ campaign aims to boost blood pressure screenings

  • Courtesy photo Community First includes, from left to right: Mike Sayama, executive director; Toby Taniguchi, president and chairperson; Kim Kobayashi, program manager; and Randy Kurohara, project director of the KYN campaign.

  • Courtesy photo A woman gets her blood pressure checked at a KTA SuperStores location.

Community First wants the community to know its numbers.

The nonprofit’s inaugural “Know Your Numbers” blood pressure awareness campaign will take place throughout February.

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The goal is to have people as familiar with their blood pressure as they are with their height and weight.

Community First is a nonprofit organization founded by the late KTA CEO and Chairman Barry Taniguchi in 2014 that aims to improve health and lower medical costs on Hawaii Island.

Its mission is a sustainable medical and social service system that provides quality care for all people of Hawaii Island.

Know Your Numbers project lead Randy Kurohara said educating the community about the risk associated with high blood pressure was something the organization could do as a community project.

“Numbers show about a third of all adults have high blood pressure,” he said. “Fifty percent don’t even know they have it. That’s why it’s also referred to as a silent killer.”

According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure, or hypertension, is when the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels is consistently too high.

High blood pressure primarily causes harm by increasing the workload of the heart and blood vessels, making them work harder and less efficiently.

Over time, it damages delicate tissues inside of arteries and in turn, bad cholesterol forms plaque along small tears in the artery walls.

The more plaque and damage increase, the narrower the insides of the arteries become, “raising blood pressure and starting a vicious circle that further harms your arteries, heart and the rest of your body,” the Heart Association said. “This can ultimately lead to other conditions ranging from arrhythmia to heart attack and stroke.”

High blood pressure, however, can be managed or reversed through diet and exercise, Kurohara explained.

By bringing awareness to high blood pressure, “this was a way we could help the health of our community pretty quickly.”

The campaign will include public outreach efforts, with informational booths at a variety of public venues throughout February, he said. They’ll share information about high blood pressure, how to manage it and will offer free blood pressure screenings.

There will also be work site outreach efforts throughout the month. Community First will offer free work site presentations and outreach to employees.

The goal, Kurohara said, “is to have an informed, healthy community that understands the risk of high blood pressure.”

This is the first year for the campaign. There will be drawings for prizes and incentives for participating.

Kurohara said organization is mainly targeting its efforts in East Hawaii, from Waimea to Volcano, but next year, they’ll go islandwide with the campaign.

For more information, or to sign up for a work site visit, ownyourhealthhi.org.

The campaign kicks off with a lunch sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaii, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday at the ARC of Hilo, 1099 Waianuenue Ave.

Dr. Jamison Wyatt, a cardiologist with Hilo Medical Center, will discuss new cardiologist services being provided locally and the benefits those services provide to the community, while Dr. Kathleen Kozak, medical director for UHA Health Insurance, will talk about high blood pressure and the importance of “knowing your numbers.”

There will be free drawings for blood pressure monitors and complementary blood pressure screenings.

To register for the lunch or for more information, contact at jccih@jccih.org or 934-0177

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Cost is $30 in advance and $35 at the door.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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