Know Your Numbers

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“I was at work one day with a terrible headache that wouldn’t go away … that was my wake-up call.”

Wanda King was used to battling headaches. As Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Vice President of Federal Employee Programs & Medicare Advantage Operations, she has days that are stressful, but they aren’t anything some pain relievers couldn’t handle. Not this day. “I was at work one day with a terrible headache that wouldn’t go away,” Wanda remembers. “I kept taking Tylenol and thinking it would get better. Finally, I went to my doctor and he wanted to put me on blood pressure medicine. I didn’t want to do that, but he told me if I didn’t, the chances of me having a heart attack or stroke were great. That was my wake-up call.” Wanda accepted the medication and has been vigilant about monitoring her blood pressure ever since.

 

Wanda’s passion for knowing her numbers and helping others avoid cardiac-related disease led her to the Arkansas Chapter of the American Heart Association. As Heart Walk Chairman, she will welcome families and hopes others can learn from her experience. “Now, I keep a journal of my blood pressure morning, mid-day and evening,” she explains. “I do this just to make sure I know what the numbers are and know what they should be. I determined that it’s not a bad thing to take blood pressure medication, and I advocate for others and let them know it’s not a bad thing.”

The Heart Walk is a gathering to recognize wellness and come together for healthier lifestyle choices. “It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate survivors of heart disease as well as those who raise awareness and funds for heart disease research.” According to the Arkansas Chapter of the American Heart Association, hypertension (high blood pressure) is a leading risk factor for poor cardiovascular health. Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure, yet less than half have been diagnosed. In Central Arkansas, 32.1 percent have been advised by a doctor regarding high blood pressure. By eliminating hypertension, the mortality from cardiovascular disease in Central Arkansas could be reduced by 38 percent.

“The American Heart Association is funding more research on how we can reduce and eliminate cardiovascular disease, but what I want people to know is they can help themselves and others now by understanding their numbers,” King said. “We all know someone who has heart disease, whether it be a friend, a family member, neighbor, church member. Heart disease is a silent killer, but it can be properly managed if we know our numbers and do the things we need to keep them within a healthy range.”

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