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MN Program Helps Underserved Patients Keep 'Silent Killer' at Bay

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Thursday, March 31, 2022   

Minnesota is often credited for having an overall healthy population, but disparities exist for certain racial groups. A prevention effort now taking shape gives patients the tools to keep tabs on a crucial part of their health: blood pressure.

Through the American Heart Association (AHA), the Native American Community Clinic in Minneapolis recently secured 220 self-monitoring blood pressure cuffs to give to at-risk patients.

Moriah Johnson, community health manager for the Clinic, said the rollout of the program, along with an emphasis on telehealth, coincides with recent improvements in patients' hypertension management levels, including those who are diabetic.

"Coupling both of those together could be a factor in why we actually did see some pretty marked improvement in hypertension control," Johnson explained.

She noted challenges include general lack of engagement with the public because blood pressure is not considered a visible health threat. Johnson added following up with some patients, especially if they lose track of their devices, can be a barrier.

Minnesota is below the national average for adults with high blood pressure, but Indigenous populations in the state are well above U.S. levels.

Johnson hopes the emergence of another component of the program, which is a web-based Bluetooth platform, will bolster the effectiveness of the effort. It allows the clinic to get a closer look at levels being taken from a patient outside the facility.

"From a care perspective, it's concrete data, which is really nice," Johnson acknowledged. "We can log onto that those patients that do engage in it, see where their readings are at home. "

The AHA hopes to ramp up the monitoring program, so it can reach other populations. It recently partnered with two other community sites, the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center and the Cultural Wellness Center in Minneapolis, to help with educating patients.

Nearly half of U.S. adults have hypertension. Medical experts said left untreated, it can lead to poor health outcomes and is a key risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Disclosure: The American Heart Association of Minnesota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, and Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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