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HEART-CHECK DEVICES POP UP IN LOCAL MALLS.

Byline: SUE DOYLE Staff Writer

VALENCIA -- Sipping a cold coffee drink, Parish Saroya stepped away from the heart-check center at the Valencia mall Friday as his blood-pressure reading flashed on a screen behind him.

``Mine was sky-high,'' the surprised 21-year-old said. ``Oh, my God. It's stage-one hypertension.''

Saroya was shopping at Valencia Town Center with 26-year-old brother Puneet when they came across the heart-check center, a self-automated machine that takes blood pressures and pulse rates for free.

It's one of three centers standing in local malls that encourages shoppers to put down their bags and test their blood pressure.

Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center of Burbank and Providence Holy Cross Medical Center of Mission Hills also have installed the machines at Sherman Oaks Fashion Square Mall and Burbank Town Center.

These centers cut down on wait time to see a doctor and provide accessibility to everyone, said Linda Gaul, manager of senior care services for Providence Health System San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valley.

``People need to stay in control of their health and what's happening to them,'' she said. ``Although a real-life physician is always best.''

Underneath the fluorescent lights at Valencia Town Center, the two bright red heart-check machines have become an attraction to teens, seniors and moms pushing strollers. Sitting down and slipping an arm inside the cuff, many are excited at first to learn what their blood-pressure reading is at that very second.

A reference chart lists the ranges of normal and stage-two hypertension for systolic and diastolic readings. When done, some slink away from the machine, looking over their shoulders to see whether anyone else saw the results.

After taking her blood pressure at the mall for a second time Friday, 53- year-old Barbara Madel took a seat in a nearby chair she loves to read in. She often comes to the mall to walk when temperatures outside sizzle and enjoys the air-conditioning.

``When I first got here, my pulse rate was high,'' she said. ``It has gone down, which makes me feel better.''

But Madel was puzzled about what her pulse rate meant actually, as there isn't a interpretation chart posted at the center.

Twenty-three-year-old Jonah Stacey frequently takes his blood pressure inside local drug stores. Although the Valencia man doesn't suffer any health problems related to blood pressure, he finds many using the machines who do. He thought it was a good idea that there are two blood-pressure machines inside the mall now, as more people will have access to them.

``It helps people who have medical problems. They can check it here,'' he said. ``Plus, if you go to the doctor's office, it costs money. Here it's free.''

sue.doyle(at)dailynews.com

(661) 257-5254
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 29, 2006
Words:453
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