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County among worst in state for hypertension

Staff writer

Hillsboro police chief Dan Kinning has been living with high blood pressure for 20 years. Much of it stems from personal stress, he said.

“That’s part of what’s causing it,” he said. “Being in a high-stress field, it’s hard to maintain that.”

He is not alone.

Nearly 42% of adults in Marion County who were checked had high blood pressure, the sixth-highest county rate in Kansas, according to 2017 statistics from kansashealthmatters.org.

Kinning said his blood pressure problem is partly genetic, but admits lifestyle is a contributing factor.

“It’s genetic, and some of it is lifestyle for sure,” he said. “It’s what you eat, how much you exercise, and stress.”

As police chief, Kinning said more hours behind a desk has boosted his stress and left him with less time to exercise.

“I was told I should do that, but you can’t just change your life,” he said. “It just doesn’t work.”

Blood pressure across Marion County has also risen. In 2011, 30.6% had high blood pressure, which rose to 33.4% in 2013, and 37.7% in 2015. When looking at counties of comparable size, Marion County outpaces the 36.8% of Allen County, and 32.3% in Bourbon County.

High cholesterol is also a common health problem within the county. Nearly 39% were reported to have high cholesterol in 2017, the 20th highest rate in the state.

Only 32% reported high numbers in 2013, an improvement over the 51.2% who had high cholesterol in 2011.

Marion’s statistics are lower than Bourbon County at 40.6%, but higher than Allen County at 35.9%.

Jana Nordquist, said she has been able to exercise more since her children graduated high school.

“I’ve been more active lately because I was always going to activities of theirs,” she said. “We’ve been getting out and fishing now.”

Promoting an active lifestyle may help young people from developing health problems, said Nordquist, Marion school district’s nurse.

“The fitness center has been a big boost,” she said. “There are a lot of people there. I see a lot of kids at the aquatics center and people being more active.”

However, a majority of adults in Marion County were overweight as of 2017, with 35.7% overweight and 43.3% obese, or severely overweight.

The obesity rate is tied for fourth highest in Kansas, and significantly higher than Allen County’s 37%, or Bourbon County’s 33%.

However, the percentage of people overweight dropped from 41.9% in 2015 to 35.7% in 2017. Marion County is 18th-highest in Kansas, but the percentage of people overweight rate is lower than Allen County at 36.2% or Bourbon County at 36.6%.

Last modified Sept. 11, 2019

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