Community Alliance & American Heart Association Partner
Written by: Ryan Lally, American Heart Association, Community Impact Director – Nebraska
Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure and many don’t even know they have it. Black Americans have among the highest blood pressure rates in the world. Over 30% of adults in Nebraska have been told by a health professional that they have high blood pressure. In Douglas County, black adults who have been told they have high blood pressure had increased from 39.9% in 2011 to 52.5% in 2017, compared to white adults that had increased from 27.3% to 30.2% over the same time. To address this issue and improve blood pressure control rates throughout the community and meet those most at risk, the American Heart Association is collaborating with Community Alliance where, in 2020, 94% of the persons served had income levels below the federal poverty line at the time of admission. People of color, who comprised 1 of 3 persons served by Community Alliance during the past year, have been among the most vulnerable and hardest hit by the pandemic.
Improving Blood Pressure and Hypertension Management
The American Heart Association began working with Community Alliance in October 2021, and have been diligently working together to improve patient blood pressure control and focus on hypertension management. Community Alliance is using Target: BP to help improve BP control rates through evidence-based quality improvement tools and resources. As part of this joint effort, Community Alliance has posted the In-Office BP Measurement Infographic next to every place where blood pressures are taken and included into their operating procedures routine blood pressure trainings every 6-12 months for all staff who measure BP in their clinic.
Through Target: BP and a self-monitoring blood pressure (SMBP) program that started in December, 2021, and in association with the American Heart Association, Community Alliance is improving blood pressure management practices and now patients with uncontrolled blood pressure are taking ownership of their health and monitoring their blood pressure at home while partnering with their primary health care provider to change behaviors that promote better blood pressure. With grant funding from the CDC and the American Heart Association, Community Alliance is providing validated blood pressure management devices to patients who participate in the program. Providers and staff are trained on implementing the SMBP program and are teaching patients how to monitor their blood pressure at home. Patients are provided a manual log to keep track of blood pressure readings that are shared with their provider during follow up appointments/check-ins. Providers and clinicians assess patients’ blood pressure results and are providing an evidence-based plan of care to improve the patients’ blood pressure and hypertension.
About Community Alliance
Community Alliance is an integrated health care organization that offers a whole-person approach, including psychiatric services, mental health and substance use counseling, primary medical care and a range of rehabilitation, employment, community support, and family and peer support. In 2020, 3,222 men and women participated in Community Alliance services. People living with a major mental illness faced increased challenges throughout the year because of the pandemic, making the hard work of recovery even harder. Already struggling with one chronic illness, those served by Community Alliance are working to overcome numerous other risk factors – physical, mental, and social – in their continued pursuit of recovery.
Community Alliance’s dedication to our community’s most vulnerable population and the collaboration with the American Heart Association to improve blood pressure outcomes will have a tremendous impact and save lives.