YMCA, AHA team up to fight high blood pressure

The YMCA and American Heart Association (AHA) are launching a collaborative effort this spring to help control blood pressure.

Forty-six percent of U.S. adults have hypertension based on new guidelines announced in November but managing blood pressure levels can reduce a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke.

Through the new collaboration, clinics participating in the AHA and American Medical Association’s national Target: BP initiative can refer patients to the YMCA for free support in learning how to self-monitor their blood pressure. The partnership will be piloted in eight cities: Atlanta; St. Louis; Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Florida; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Health care providers are treating patients with high blood pressure. Their efforts can be complemented by out-of-clinic activities and resources that help with self-management of high blood pressure, and that’s where community-based organizations like the ‘Y’ can be very effective,” said Eduardo Sanchez, MD, PhD, chief medical officer for prevention for the AHA. “A trusted touchpoint outside of the doctor’s office is a valuable tool in helping people make and maintain the lifestyle habits necessary to prevent new or worsening cardiovascular disease.”

The YMCA already has a blood pressure self-monitoring program in which it encourages participants to record blood pressure at least twice a month, attend monthly nutrition education seminars and meet with trained “healthy heart ambassadors,” who facilitate the seminars and teach individuals how to use blood pressure monitors.

“Community integrated health solutions are the future of chronic disease prevention, and the Y’s partnership with the AHA is a great example of putting access in action,” Heather Hodge, the YMCA senior director of evidence-based health interventions, said in a press release. “Not only can we help patients who know they have high blood pressure get the help they need, but this effort will also increase access in communities where the risks for high blood pressure are even higher than the national average.”