OWINGS MILLS, MD. (WJZ) — One woman is thanking a machine at the JCC in Owings Mills for saving her life.

About six weeks ago, Jackie Simon was on her way to the gym when she stopped to get her pressure checked and got the shock of her life.

“I was a walking time bomb for either a heart attack or a stroke,” said Jackie Simon, an Owings Mills resident.

It was a shock to Simon because she said she exercises seven days a week and is in great shape.

“I had no signs, I didn’t feel any different, I felt the same that day than any other day when I came here,” Simon said.

It is one of the reasons they call high blood pressure “the silent killer,” and why doctors are taking aim at the disease during May.

May is considered National Stroke Month and one of the leading causes of strokes is high blood pressure.

“I think one of the biggest problems is that we just don’t know that we have high blood pressure. We feel fine, it seems like our heart is working fine, we’re thinking fine but as it turns out, our numbers are too high,” said Dr. William Ashley, a neurosurgeon at LifeBridge Health.

Simon tested herself at a kiosk inside the gym at the JCC in Owings Mills, the machine, known as the HIGI, is a bit hit with gym goers. It was installed last February.

The JCC is proud to have a partnership with LifeBridge Health going on for many years now, about six months ago, JCC partnered with LifeBridge and the Heart Association on installing the HIGI machine. We’ve had eight to 900 uses each month, members are getting checked out to make sure their blood pressure is where it should be,” said Paul Lurie, Chief Operating Officer at the JCC.

The American Heart Association has a number of these machines across the country.

“This machine is the number two in use of all the machines in the country right now,” said Tracy Brazelton, executive director of the American Heart Association Baltimore.

The scare resulted in Simon seeing her doctor.

“When they did bloodwork on me they also found out I had high cholesterol, now I’m on blood pressure medication and cholesterol medication, and my pressure and everything is fine right now,” Simon said.

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