To Your Good Health: Library Offers Blood Pressure Check Stations

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Do you know your numbers? The numbers of your blood pressure reading, that is. If you don’t, you’ll soon be able to take your blood pressure at your favorite Kansas City Public Library location.

Jeni Starr, the Library’s community specialists manager, says that high blood pressure is known as the silent killer. People can be in the danger zone for stroke or a heart attack and not realize it until it’s an emergency.

To help keep Kansas Citians safe and well, the Library is partnering with HCA Health Midwest and the American Heart Association to install blood pressure check stations in every branch, excluding Sugar Creek – those patrons will be referred to the Trails West Branch.  

The initiative is part of a nationwide program called Libraries with Heart.

“Providing these machines gives access for people to check their blood pressure. Blood pressure cuffs can cost some money, and that creates a barrier to access, so we want to break down those barriers,” Starr says.

Man standing at a podium speaking to a small group

She says this is another component of the Library’s wellness program, which includes, among other activities, Relax in the Stacks meditation sessions at the Central Library on the first and third Thursdays of every month, weekly yoga at the Ruiz Branch, and NickiFit classes throughout the system. Check the Library's events calendar for times and locations.

Erin Gabert, senior community impact director at the American Heart Association’s Kansas City location, says, “Anytime you can center yourself and calm yourself and try to let the stresses of the world go a little, I think that can certainly help your blood pressure. And regular exercise and a balanced diet are certainly going to be a big factor in blood pressure.”

But, echoing Starr, she says everyone needs to know their blood pressure reading, something that many struggle with due to lack of resources, including time.

And that’s where libraries come in.

“Libraries are perfect for this kind of initiative,” Gabert says, “because they really are a hub in the community for more than just reading. And so many people visit the library every day that it's just a great way to reach people with the messaging of the importance of knowing your numbers and checking your blood pressure regularly.”