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Life-saving blood pressure kits delivered to those at risk, paving a path to a heart-healthy future

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‘Building Healthier, Safer Communities Together’ program is sponsored by the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation

Blood Pressure Check

The American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, distributed more than 300 self-monitoring blood pressure kits in partnership with HealthLinc and Shalom Health Care Center in Indianapolis. This effort is part of the Association’s “Building Healthier, Safer Communities Together” program, a collaboration with community-based organizations and Federally Qualified Health Centers in 16 historically under-resourced communities across the country, funded by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation.

In the U.S., high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a leading cause and controllable risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Since January 2023, HealthLinc and Shalom Health Care Center have offered community members at risk for high blood pressure a kit with the tools they need to assess and self-monitor blood pressure regularly. The kits included patient education materials and items such as pill organizers, digital scales, a blood pressure monitor and more, as well as instructions on how to use the items and log individuals’ numbers.  

According to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association, accurate blood pressure numbers are critical to the diagnosis of hypertension and monitoring the effect of its treatment. Also, blood pressure is a key component of cardiovascular disease risk prediction.

High blood pressure affects almost half of all adults in the U.S. Yet, many don’t know they have it or receive treatment. Black Americans, especially Black women, are at highest risk of stroke and even death. Unmanaged risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol are among the biggest contributors for stroke.

“Health inequities heavily contribute to chronic health conditions such as uncontrolled blood pressure in historically under-resourced communities at disproportionate rates. If left unmonitored and untreated, these conditions could result in heart and blood vessel damage that can lead to an increase in heart disease, heart attacks and strokes,” said Ryan Venis, M.D., Medical Director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana. “It’s good to know we can make a difference through the ‘Building Healthier, Safer Communities’ program by collaborating with local Federally Qualified Health Centers and provide the tools they need to break the cycle of unmonitored health in underserved communities.”

A lack of resources can create major health barriers for individuals within their community, according to the most recent American Heart Association Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Management of High Blood Pressure. However, working with community organizations dedicated to addressing these barriers, such as high blood pressure management, could be effective in helping individuals gain control.

“Creating awareness of cardiovascular risk factors such high blood pressure is essential in communities. An astounding 87% of stroke risk can be attributed to modifiable risk factors,” said Dr. Jerry Smartt, a neurologist on the American Heart Association’s board of directors in Indianapolis. “By supporting programs like these with HealthLinc and Shalom Health Care Center, we are showing community members why proactive blood pressure management is integral to heart health.”

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