Starting today, some fire stations in Minneapolis and St. Paul will host free blood pressure screenings.
The tests are part of the "Stop, Drop and Control" campaign sponsored by the Minnesota Professional Firefighters association in conjunction with the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.
Mark Paller of the University of Minnesota Medical School said high blood pressure or hypertension is a major cause of heart attacks, kidney disease and stroke.
He said hypertension is particularly dangerous because it doesn't have any symptoms.
"About a third of Americans have high blood pressure, or hypertension. And probably of that number, at least a third of them are unaware that they have high blood pressure."
Paller said people can lower their risk for hypertension by losing weight if they are overweight, excercising and watching their salt or sodium intake.
"Anything that basically comes from a chain restaurant or processed foods, canned, frozen...has way too much sodium in it," he said.